A few blocks from our flat is a corner that we pass every time we walk downtown. It’s distinctive because of the stench of urine that emanates from it, particularly on hot days. On the corner is a block of flats, and the ground floor flat opens onto three cement steps leading to the sidewalk. About two meters from those steps is a power pole.
A white-haired pensioner and his little dog live in that flat. When the dog needs to pee, the pensioner opens his door and sits on the steps for a cigarette while he watches his dog walk two meters to the power pole, urinate on it, and then trot back. The pole is also the repository for all of this dog’s feces. (It goes without saying that none of them are ever picked up.)
Interestingly, the feces aren’t the worst part, because they dry out quickly in the summer. But urine has some special quality that allows it to get even worse with heat. And this dog peed in this single location so often, over so long a time period, that it was permanently wet — even in 38º C. heat.
Today I walked by on my way to the post office and noticed something odd: not only were there no turds on the sidewalk by the power pole, but the base of the pole was dry. It didn’t reek of dog pee. It just smelled…normal.
Something has changed in the neighborhood. Either the pensioner has moved (unlikely), or passed away (more likely), or the dog died (most likely). One or both of them are no longer there.
It’s a sad statement on a life that when it ends, the only way people know is because they walked by, stopped, and said to themselves, “Hey…it doesn’t reek of dog pee anymore!”
I have a strange urge to drop a bouquet of flowers at the base of that pole.