Sousa Bueller has a productive day off

One of the surest signs I’m too busy is I start resenting those who aren’t. When I’m at my most overwhelmed, I’m most at risk for popping someone in the mouth following their declaration of “I’m bored” or “I have nothing to do.”

When I worked at The Daily Reporter, we got calls from people complaining their newspaper was five minutes late. Ten minutes late would elevate it to a capital crime in their minds. I thought the real criminal unfairness was that they had the kind of time on their hands to notice a slight delay.

I’ve no idea when my newspaper and mail arrive, except that it’s sometime while I’m away at work. But in anticipation of retirement, I’ve already positioned my porch swing in the direction of my newspaper and mail boxes, craving the day when, armed with a stopwatch, I’ll be able to monitor and report on the activities of the busy.

One of my former bosses regularly became exasperated when “loafers of leisure” (his term for anyone who wasn’t working) managed to muck up the works of the working. He was venomous regarding retirees. “They’ve got all day to lunch, but they always eat between noon and 1 PM, just so they can get in the way of the working stiffs. Senior coffee, my butt!”

I am more of an equal opportunity curmudgeon, indiscriminately begrudging anyone who doesn’t have to work: Independently wealthies, pre-schoolers, people with injuries or disabilities, lottery winners, stay-at-home moms, and even my pets.

I looked at my dog and cat on my way out the door one particularly busy day and felt a wave of envy. Having just eaten, Shirley the cat was curled up for the duration on the soft cushion of a rocking chair near a warm air register.

Sousa the dog, who at least had the ambition to see the kids off on the school bus, had hunkered down on a plush rug. My level of resentment rose. Like the sign says, “When I die, I want to come back as my pet.” Heck, I want to be one of my pets right now! They’ve got it good.

I’d like to think if she had the ability, Sousa would gladly help me with things around the house. But alas, her paws put her at a dexterous disadvantage. Other than using her tongue to clean up kitchen spills and her nose to herd the cat, she’s not much practical use. Sure, she barks a little, but usually just at people she knows. Not exactly a stellar watchdog credential.

An English shepherd (similar to a border collie), Sousa was born with a “can-do” willingness and is up for any trip or adventure no matter what time of day or night. Keenly intelligent, her limits in life were imposed only by my limited knowledge and ability to train her for things more advanced than napping.

So just what would Sousa do if given the opportunity? Well, I found out the day I accidentally left the front door open. When I returned from work that night, she greeted me at the end of the driveway. Uh oh. My children had just watched the movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” so I was well-versed on the perils of being home alone, unsupervised.

I walked in through the open front door and stopped short of tripping over a dead squirrel. I recognized it as the one that incessantly chattered at Sousa from a large maple outside the parlor window. Mistakenly thinking she couldn’t get at him, he’d made the fatal error of taking his taunts to a lower level.

Also in the dining room was a dead woodchuck, or rather what was left of one. I had no knowledge of his transgressions other than he’d been in the wrong place at the wrong time on Sousa Bueller’s day off.

To quench her huntress’s thirst, Sousa had dragged a case of the kids’ juice boxes off the pantry shelf to the parlor, where she had ravaged them. As I buried her victims, I decided Sousa Bueller could return tomorrow to her (now) unenviable life of leisure loafing. It suddenly was okay with me.

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