Jackie bolted out of the house like a racehorse breaking through the starting gate. She was racing to the most important meeting of her career.
She was prepared in her crisp, navy blue power suit. Her head ablaze with long fiery tendrils flying in every direction, contrasting her cool porcelain skin sprinkled with sunbursts of freckles. Not an inch over 5 feet tall, she was dynamite packed with the power and passion typical of a carrot top.
This morning she was focused, rehearsing her presentation, as she slid into her sporty red Mercedes 450 SL convertible. She tossed her laptop briefcase onto the smooth tan leather seat beside her and skidded out of the driveway.
She raced down her usual route to the freeway. She flew past fellow commuters. “Okay, we’re on our way,” she consoled herself out loud. She was nervous this time. Usually she was excited about the challenge of winning over a new client. But this time was different. A lot more was at stake, becoming partner possibly.
Jackie was as determined and focused as an athlete training for the Olympics. She had to win at everything. She had even mastered the traffic flow patterns enough to shave off an extra 10 minutes from her commute each morning. She proudly thought to herself, Why hasn’t anyone else figured this out? You go down lane 4 until you get to the Broadway Blvd exit. Then you switch over to lane 2 for a mile, to avoid the backup and so on. The pattern was so clear to her.
She was halfway to work now. Everything was going as planned. “Breathe, Jackie. Just breathe. You’ve got this,” she heard herself saying.
But, wait! She gulped. “Something is wrong. The traffic isn’t flowing the way it should.” It reminded her of cockroaches scattering when you turn on the lights. Cars were swerving uncontrollably in every direction. Oh no, there’s an accident! Shit, she thought, as her heart raced.
“OMG! There’s a dog on the freeway! It’s going to get hit,” she screamed out loud. She witnessed in horror, as the tiny, tan, terrier mix frantically bounced around from one lane to the next like a pinball searching for an escape. It was trapped and confused. The poor little thing is terrified, she thought to herself.
Her over-active mind shifted into overdrive as she analyzed the scenario. She was relieved that drivers were at least trying to avoid it and slowing down. But, it was just a matter of time before it got hit. Jackie realized that, Someone’s gotta do something and it’s gonna be me.
Jackie was on a mission. The only thing that mattered now was to save the dog. She had to act fast. So she yanked her car over to block the far right lane completely. Then she jumped out of her car and started directing traffic like a police officer.
Jackie was surprised at how cooperative drivers were during rush hour traffic. Someone even stopped to help. She barked at him to get back in his car and block the next lane over. He quickly complied.
“Okay, good. Thanks for stopping to help.” Jackie was relieved.
“No problem. It looks like the little guy needs us. What’s the plan? I’m Rick.” said her friendly volunteer.
Jackie was in control. Rick was ready for her instructions.
“Ok, thanks, I’m Jackie. Here’s what we need to do. Let’s see if we can get others to block the remaining lanes, so no more traffic can pass through until we rescue the little fella. You up for playing traffic cop, Rick?” She forced a brief smile.
“You bet. You focus on the dog and I’ll take care of the traffic.” Rick cautiously eased out from behind the parked cars to wave down another volunteer.
Drivers were squeezing past. Some were curious and others were furious. Some yelled at them to, “Get the hell out of the way you assholes.” Others cheered them on with a friendly honk and thumbs up.
Rick got another driver to join their rescue team. Like beavers building a dam before a flood, they now had three of the four lanes blocked off.
Meanwhile, Jackie pulled some rope out of the trunk of her car and created a lasso. She hoped to catch the dog, if she could just get close enough to it. She was safely behind the barricade now as she coaxed and consoled it, trying to earn its trust.
“Here pup, (kiss, kiss, kiss), good boy, (kiss, kiss, kiss), you can do it. Come here little fella, (kiss, kiss, kiss). I’m here to help.”
The dog was beside itself with fear that she couldn’t get close enough to throw the lasso over it. Plan B – She’ll chase it over to the shoulder of the road. Then at least it will be out of harm’s way.
But suddenly, an agitated driver charged right through the gap in their barricade and headed right forJackie and the dog.
Jackie screamed at the top of her lungs, waving her arms wildly, “Wait! Stop! Don’t!”
The driver pounded on his horn, as he swerved at the last minute, barely missing Jackie and the dog.
Once she caught her breath, she focused on saving her freeway friend again. If she could just get close enough. She was almost there and about to throw the lasso over its head when she was startled by an ominous squawk. Then she saw the flashing lights of the highway patrol car as pulled up beside her. That was the last straw for the pathetic creature. Jackie had steered it close enough to the shoulder of the road for it to find its escape as it bolted into the safety of the canyon nearby. “I hope you make it home safe and sound little fella,” Jackie yelled after it, as she turned to face the Highway Patrol Officer.
She quickly glanced at her watch as her heart sank into her stomach. She realized that she was late, very, very late.
Deborah Brightstar ©2014