Sunday, June 17, 2012

Officer Friendly to the Rescue

Sometimes you see them parked by the roadside, or maybe giving a well-deserved ticket, checking the car-born computer or talking with a pedestrian. They wear different uniforms, some blue, some white, some coat and tie. They are the Panama City Beach Police and they do a terrific job.

I had the good fortune to meet one the other day named Officer Gillman. He’s a big fellow with red hair and a nice demeanor. He answered a call to our house at the beach concerning a missing watercraft. Filling out the report, I asked him how many of those things he had recovered in the past and he said his record was perfect — “none.”

We laughed … or I did. He just looked sort of sad, as if he wished it were not true, but they tend to get away quickly when missing. I figured I’d seen the last of my old friend, the WaveRunner, as it was going on 10 and probably couldn’t find its way home if it had to. Gillman and I parted company after the report and I tried not to think about the rest of the weekend and summer without being able to get out on the water.

A few hours later he called. “Mr. Harmon, I have some good news,” he said. “I’m standing next to your WaveRunner!”

Actually he’d been there for a while, questioning folks, getting necessary information, etc., and it was hot. I said I could be there in a few minutes, not thinking about how long he had already been there, and he said that would be fine. Keep in mind this WaveRunner is an old boy, not much to look at, but still runs pretty darn good.

A good Samaritan walking his dog had phoned in a tip and Officer Gillman had wasted no time in locating my old friend. When I arrived, Gillman could have said, “Well, there it is, take care, good luck, see ya later!” But he didn’t do that. He actually helped me and a friend push that thing from the woods back to the road where we could attach it to a truck. And, like I said, it was hot.

So, just a word of thanks to a great person, a young person who means a lot to the community of Panama City Beach. I hope he stays safe, and if you see a big, red-headed guy in a police car, probably with a smile on his face and a ready wave, wish him well. He’s there for you, too.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dogs Vs. Cats

Honestly, I was going to write something about our children, and then something popped up that made me think some grow up a lot faster than others. I went on the web to look up a word, probably something simple, and there in the corner of my machine was an invitation from somebody I had never laid eyes on (I swear) to chat. She looked about 20-something, blond, attractive no doubt, just a couple of miles away.Her name was Stephanie. She didn’t give a last name. I figured she was probably too shy, and I guess she was asking for an introduction because she said something like, “want to meet me?”

Well, I looked around the room and saw it was just me, Herkie the dog and Milo the cat. That dog is a mess. He thinks Milo is a furry toy that can jump really high and slap really well but other than that, has no real worth to speak of. Truth is, Milo plays Herkie like a fiddle.Anyway, he had one eye on me and the other on Milo, who was just a few feet away and looking over my shoulder at Steph ... purring, even though he’s been fixed for years. Steph was just a grinning and had two keys below her picture. One said “confirm,” the other said, “run like hell.”I never had Herkie fixed. Figured it would be OK since he seldom goes outside and when he does he’s looking for a ball or somebody to bark at. Sort of like I used to do years ago.

Besides, the last dog I had fixed put on weight and looked at me out of the corner of his eye, as if he knew he was missing something, and it was me who might still have it somewhere in the house. “I know whatever I lost is around here somewhere and you need to find it.”Herkie knows there are those who would love nothing more than to take the lust out of his eyes. He appreciates the fact that dad is simpatico. He looks at me straight on, eye to eye and we see things the same way, if you know what I mean.He eyeballed Milo and knew he needed to be with dad on the couch. A short fight ensued. Milo got two slaps in before the dog knew he’d been slapped and then Milo went to sit somewhere else, lick his fur and stare at two fools buried in a machine.

The look on his face seemed to say, “You two cannot be that stupid. Do you really think her name is Stephanie?”Now I know there are those who would doubt this and it may have been my imagination, which runs a little crazy on the web, but once he got up on the couch and saw her for himself, Herkie looked over at the cat as if to say, “Me thinks this old man is about to make a career decision.”

Well, she looked like that Locklear girl would have looked 30 years ago with bad teeth. Her smile seemed to say, “I know whatever I lost is around here somewhere and if you’ll click “confirm” we can look for them together.”I started to click “confirm” to recommend a good dentist but thought better of it. Herkie gave me a silent nod like John Wayne did to Opie Taylor when he threw that pistol across the floor in “The Shootist.” There’s all sorts of things out there today that can make you shoot yourself in the foot. Sometimes it just takes a good friend to help you not take that last drink, or click “confirm” when you should click “run like hell.” Sometimes all it takes is a good dog. I wonder whose little girl Stephanie used to be anyway.