Monday, November 14, 2016

The dog kicker

Yesterday I saw an obituary for a former fellow school district employee, Brent, who died at age 67. Brent was two years younger than me, and he died from a heart attack. Brent was a devout Mormon, so he didn't smoke, drink (liquor or coffee). He was tall and fairly slim. Huh. I thought he'd live longer than he did. Longer than me, anyway. I remember Brent bugged me a lot because when I'd see him he'd get in my face and try to make small talk. He was not a natural small-talker, and as Greg, another coworker opined, "Brent tries too hard to make friends and it drives people away." I could see that. After I saw his obit I thought maybe I should have lightened up my opinion of him. Then I remembered a day maybe 20 years ago when Sally and I were walking into a high school for a meeting, and Brent was on the sidewalk talking to a man. A little dog ran up to Brent, which annoyed him. He hauled off and kicked the little dog and sent it yiping in pain into the bushes. The proverbial red mist floated before my eyes. I stopped and unloaded on Brent, chewing him up one side and down the other. Something a supervisor once told me was, "You have a tongue that cuts like a scalpel." I don't remember exactly what I said, but Brent went red in the face, said nothing, yet after Sally and I walked off he resumed his conversation with the man as if nothing had happened.

The next day I told Greg, Brent's office mate, who said, "Yeah, Brent's old man was like that. He didn't just kick dogs. They'd come in his yard, he'd shoot 'em." After the incident for the rest of the time I knew him Brent never mentioned my loud, angry comments on his act of animal abuse.

Maybe Brent cleaned up his act as he got older. Maybe he mellowed out. But I am sensitive to such cruelty. I am not religious, but it is my opinion that no matter how religious you are or observant of the rules of your faith, if you kick little dogs you should have a long wait to get into heaven.

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