Even car salesmen go out of their way to be nice to us. One may recall that we fled the hurricane in my wife's car, a 1998 Suzuki Esteem, and left my poor old Saturn to a terrible fate. So, we needed another car, the cheaper the better. When we said as much to the salesman at Wade Raulerson Pontiac, he winced and sort of twiddled his cigarette in a way that struck me as dismissive, if not downright sinister. Then we mentioned the hurricane, etc. The next thing we knew we were shaking hands with the man's boss, who, it shortly transpired, was the friend of a friend (one begins to feel karmic inklings!) who made it his personal business to see that, by God, we got a good car cheap. The snazzy green Subaru Outback we eventually drove off the lot had been thoroughly checked by a third-party mechanic, repaired as needed, and sold to us for thousands below blue book value. "You don't like it, you bring it right back," said the gruff but kindly dealer as we sealed the deal with a final handshake, and a couple days later he sent us a $219 gift card to Home Depot.
Happy, too, are our dog and cat, who now live with my mother in rural Oklahoma. I worried a little about the cat, who'd survived almost three weeks in a flooded house. The 12 cats at my mother's place would be disinclined, I thought, to respect her solitary nature. As it happens, they seem to sense that she once subsisted on rats and toxic water and give her wide berth. As for our dog, Gracie, she seems to suspect that she died at some point (perhaps in a boiling hot Suzuki) and went to doggy heaven. There are no leashes at my mother's place, no dog pens, and plenty of fresh cat turds to gobble up in the morning. Nor does my mother mind—as we did—sharing her couch with a dog. "Talk to Gracie!" my mother commands when I call her on the phone, and so I pour my love into the dog's taut, lifted ear. Gracie listens with a wary frown: God forbid we should come to reclaim her.