Monday, March 22, 2010

Work Like a Dog

WORK LIKE A DOG (See endnote 1)

Every morning, I walk down the same highway to the service bus that will take me to the zoo where I work. (Zoo, school, whatever. They both have a double o, like two open mouths forever crying out in horror). In the afternoons, the road is so chock full of cars that they run up on the sidewalk in a desperate race to get around each other--everyone honking horns, and screaming, and revving their engines hysterically. (See endnote 2)
At 6:30 in the morning, there is hardly a car in sight. One will race by once every two minutes or so, but on the whole it is blessedly quiet. Every morning, on the median, a scruffy gray dog lies on the grass with his paws crossed delicately in front of him. He is by no means cute. He's missing several teeth, has ratty ears and a tail broken so many times it makes a perfect zig zag. I think he also has the mange. He waits just down from the traffic light. He may dig himself a little hole or gnaw on the blossoms, but for the most part he simply relaxes, regarding the highway with the look of a rich widow watching her servants doing something inexplicable out on the lawn. "How strange the amusements of peasants are!" A car will come up the hill and stop at the light. The dog might yawn or shift his paws.
Then the light turns green.
The transformation is sudden and profound. The little dog leaps to his feet, a snarling, hysterical ball of rage that tears off after the car as if he were a starving wolf and the car a plump, crippled buffalo. Halfway down the bridge, the car will be forced to the curb and the driver will crack the window and shout "shut up! shut up!" while of course honking his or her horn. But the dog is satisfied with having treed his prey, and trots back to his spot on the median--his long dog nails tap tap tapping over the pavement. He resumes his spot on the median and awaits the next hapless car or truck at which point the whole process starts all over again.
He comes at sunrise and stays until the number of cars become unmanageable, and is so dilligent and single minded that I find myself wishing I could trade him for one or all of my students. I could put twenty of my ninth graders in the middle of the road where they might chase cars and scratch fleas. Being a sports school full of athletes, I should think they'd be quite successful at it. Of course, they would probably be too lazy to do any of these things, and that's fine. They could simply relax and chew some flowers and lick their crotches clean, occasionally trotting across the road to poop on the sidewalk. And the dog! He could sit in my class, paws crossed, and yawn or regard me arrogantly like he does the cars, and probably end up learning a lot more than any of my students could. I could teach him to sit, stand on his hind legs, speak, and even shake hands (Most of the tenth graders have mastered shaking hands). I am not suggesting that a half-rabid street dog is smarter than the human beings I teach. Its more like I am saying it directly. But in any case, that little dog's antics are one thing that brightens my workdays before I descend into the darkness of a private Turkish high school.

1 Apparently the Turks say "work like a donkey" and don't get why we think dogs work so hard. I think the Japanese say "work like a horse". Nobody is saying "Work like a Turkish high school student

2 By the way, the solution to every Istanbulite's problem, no matter what it is, is a good horn honk. Someone stop in front of you and turn their flashers on? Don't go around them, honk your horn! Did you have a bad day at work? Honk your horn! Are you concerned about global warming? Honk your horn. Get cancer? Honk. Find out your five year old daughter started smoking, honk honk honk honk honk. Honk till your deaf. Honk till your hand breaks off from the strain--then honk in a rage about that. If you think I'm crazy, honk. If you know what I'm talking about, honk again

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