It’s Sunday, the sun has recently set just a tad to the south of Moorea’s spectacular profile on the horizon.
I’m sitting at the nav station, getting some respite from a full day of “boat projects”. The mind is wandering and eventually lands on a memory fragment of Sunday Evenings long past, back from the time I was still a corporate executive. I see myself laying on bed at a hotel room, just arrived from a long international flight, and awaiting for a full day of meetings starting on Monday. The TV is on, I flick the remote control and the image that comes to mind is of a program called “Anatomy of a Disaster” – it was either on NatGeo or Discovery, I believe.
And all that digression brings me – finally – to today’s post.
The TV program mentioned above had a tagline more or less like this: “accidents don’t just happen, being the outcome of a sequence of interconnected events”. Catchy, isn’t it? At least to me it was, so much so that I still remember.
Anyway, back to my post.
Almost a week ago, last Tuesday, a minor accident almost happened to me. Inspired by said TV program, let me experiment presenting its anatomy – the sequence of events that led me to it, in chronological order:
- Potential for Hazard: This story begins many years ago, at the district of Faa’a, located midway between our current location in Marina Taina and the main town of Papeete, in Tahiti. A young lady, whose name I don’t know, acquires a small pet – whose name I don’t know either. For reasons that escape my understanding, she choses to keep the little dog chained almost all of the time, and it grows unhappy as a result.
- The Plot: fast forward to the recent past, an unforeseen bureaucratic situation in Brazil creates the need for me to send documents that we carry onboard to Adriana, who is currently in Sao Paulo.
- Connection: it’s last Monday now, I just found the required documents and identify the courier’s office in Papeete. In order to expedite my morning on the next day, I call a local taxi driver we knew from last year and ask her to come pick me up. As I would soon find out, she is door-to-door neighbor to the young lady of Faa’a and her eternally chained dog.
- The Shield: in preparation for the next day, I place the documents inside a plastic folder, not knowing yet that it will play a quite unexpected role for me within a few hours.
- The Catalyst: Tuesday morning, Liana picks me up at the marina and we drive off to DHL. Along the way, her car starts emitting a strong noise from the transmission, forcing us to divert to her house in Faa’a to exchange cars with her husband.
- Trigger: For reasons unknown, precisely on that morning the young lady of Faa’a chose to let her unhappy dog unchained. Taking advantage of the ephemeral freedom, he skids through a passage in the fence between houses to spend the morning with Liana’s friendly dog.
- Ignition: arriving to Liana’s house, I automatically alight her car to help out with the garage door, which she already has half open. The two dogs – Friendly and Unhappy – come through the opening to greet Liana. Whereas Friendly remains pegged to his owner, Unhappy notices me. Right there, unchained, seeing a stranger nearby his territory, Unhappy feels nothing other than the urge to unleash his anger.
- The Minor Accident that Didn’t Happen: I had only time to step back a couple meters and press against a wall behind me. The look on Unhappy’s face left no doubt that he would charge, and instinctively I brought my arms up protecting my chest, neck and face, not knowing whether he might jump. He finally crossed the street and made for my left leg. I felt his wet, spongy nose press and rub against my bare ankle, but not the expected pain. Looking down, all I saw was a chaotic, confused dog, trying hard to chew my ankle, but gobbling air instead. The same reason that caused Unhappy to be so, also made him unprepared for an attack. He simply didn’t know he would have to twist his head a bit to grab a proper bite of my leg. Not willing to let him figure that out, I slid the plastic folder between his jaws and my flesh – which disoriented Unhappy further, causing him to stop the assault and remain barking at me instead.
At this juncture, noticing that I could use a hand with the dog, Liana came to the rescue, dragging him away and instructing me to rush into her husband’s car at the back of their yard. The dog was at the same time confused and furious.
Some minutes later, as we drove to DHL, Liana said I should have kicked him – but it takes guts that I probably don’t have to kick a raging dog when wearing shorts and flipflops …
Later that day, while our documents were high up in the sky above the Pacific Ocean, underway to Brazil, the empty plastic folder on the table invited me to reminisce. Did luck – or lack thereof – play any role in such a tight chain of events? I say it did, good luck in fact, for that I’d been probably the first victim of Unhappy. I just hope there isn’t a second one, for this time he may remember to twist his head. And if another contact does happen in the future, I just hope the victim is not wearing flipflops.