In yesterday’s foggy dawn, as I drove Samuel’s carpool to school, we noticed traffic beginning to back up at an unusual spot on the road. We’re accustomed to backups, for the formerly rural area in which we live is now peppered with subdivisions and shopping centers. Leave five minutes late, and you can add an additional 10 minutes to the ride.
As I noted, however, traffic backed up at place that’s normally clear, and we crept along behind a string of tail lights for some time before the holdup became apparent: a dog was sitting in the road.
The dog was rather large and nondescript, with a dark coat of mottled black and brown. He sat on his haunches dead in the middle of the eastbound lane, erect but unmoving, with a mournful expression. Parents who drive their children to a bus stop nearby were standing by the road, patting their thighs and pleading with the dog to move out of the traffic. No one, however, was venturing into the road to lead him off.
I surmised that the dog had probably wandered into the road and been hit by a car (that was later confirmed by a witness). The car had kept going; the dog remained. Though it had no outward signs of physical damage, the canine must have had a blow to the head that left it temporarily traumatized: it just sat down and refused to move.
Like most of the traffic, we were going westbound, so we were able to proceed slowly by (sorry, eastbounders). I don’t know how they finally got the dog out of the road or whether a pet ambulance was necessary.
After depositing my glum passengers at school, I drove through the fog toward my own teaching assignments and pondered how that dog in the road reminded me of folks I’ve known who react to change as if it’s a blindsiding blow to the head. Unable to accept the notion that the world is moving on around them, they choose to become obstructionists, planting themselves firmly in the path and daring anyone to try and move them. I’ve met some of those folks in churches. The U.S. Congress is loaded with them (especially when it comes to judicial appointments). We’ve all met human roadblocks.
I appreciate others’ pain and try to be understanding — sometimes changes come that I don’t like, either. Sometimes a bit of obstruction is necessary to slow things down and ensure that we make good decisions. At other times, it’s an unnecessary obstacle designed mainly to clog the process and feed someone’s need for attention or influence.
In either case, few people want to risk getting bitten, granting the dog in the road surprising power. It’s worth pondering, when our obituaries are written, if we’ll be known for something other than blocking traffic.