Updated: Aug 2, 2021
“ “Um,” the agent said to me, hinting at something I wasn’t getting. “Um,” he said again, gesturing down toward the floor. "
I was at the busy United Airlines counter at JFK with my dog, Rudy, getting a boarding pass for our flight to move to San Francisco. The agent was tracing my reservation, because I had ordered a crate for Rudy that hadn’t arrived. Rudy was nervous, not knowing where he was. He had never flown, or been anywhere near a crate. I waited, worried that the crate wouldn’t come in time, anxious about the biggest change I had ever made in my life, and suddenly feeling very vulnerable, knowing that from that moment at JFK on into my new life, I would recognize no one. “Um,” the agent said to me, hinting at something I wasn’t getting. “Um,” he said again, gesturing down toward the floor. I looked down to see that Rudy had squatted and left a huge, brown stinking pile right in front of the United counter. Rudy looked up at me, wagging his tail proudly, and I looked at the agent, trying to pretend there wasn’t a line of thirty people behind us. “Sir!” a woman’s voice called out, from behind the counter. “Sir!” the agent yelled out again, this time leaning over the counter to get my full attention. I looked up at her, fearful. She smiled broadly. “Shit happens!” she yelled, and winked at me.