They were out again this morning. Striding out. Heads held high. Smiles on faces. The dog walkers.
Oh, the dogs stride, hold heads high, and smile too, but it's their walkers you notice first. It seems I see them every time I leave the house in my white Pontiac, filled with kids. I couldn't avoid them if I wanted to.
If I take this road, they're there walking.
If I take that road, they're there walking.
Whichever route I take, they're there...walking the dogs.
In the morning, they're walking.
In the evening, they're walking.
Whatever time of day, they're there...walking the dogs.
They seem completely carefree, completely happy as I fly past with my foot to the gas pedal.
Who are these people? Don't they ever get inside a car? Don't they ever have to go to work? It's really rather irritating.
It reminds me of that scene in Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid. Whenever Butch and Sundance think they've left the posse far behind, they raise their eyes and the posse's there. My children mimic Butch and Sundance's words every time we pass the dog walkers. "Who are those guys?"
Who are those guys, indeed. They've become part of our lives and we don't even know their names. We don't know where they live. And we don't know their social standing. For all we know they're angels come down from above for the sole purpose of our passing them each morning, afternoon, and evening, then quizzically looking at one another and asking, "Who are those guys?
In truth, we've become quite fond of the dog walkers. Usually, they're the first to wave as we pass by, leaving our cloud of dust. But if not and we wave first, they always return the gesture and those smiles grow even wider.
If a couple of days went by without seeing the dog walkers, spiriting along with their spirited pair of dogs, I'd miss them. Their names do not matter, nor where they live, and least of all their social standing. They belong on the road in this space and time with us.
Recently, we stopped asking each other "Who are those guys?" as we motored by. Now we simply smile as we pass them and say matter-of-factly, "The Dog Walkers".
Some days I think I should stop the car, get out, shake their hands, and pet their dogs. I'd introduce myself and the kids, then tell the dog walkers what a special place they hold in our day.
But I've never stopped. I'd worry if I did.
What if I discovered they really were only angels, angels of my mind, come to remind me that sometimes there is nothing more wonderful in life than "walking the dogs."