23 Jul

Disappearing Trucks, Imitation Crab and Muddy Dogs

A Full Circle Tangent Blog on Surprises, Forgiveness and Officer Stefan

Suggested listening for this blog: USE THIS LINK.

Today was an interesting Monday.  My Mondays are generally lower stress than what the “Average Joe/Josephine” goes through to start a week. Granted my Sunday was a doozy with a long ride back from Yuma, Colorado for work (ask me later) for a Sunday gala for serving as the emcee/auctioneer for the Crested Butte Music Festival.  Auctioneering is HARD and I went to bed thankful for Sunday being done.

After the gala as the music of Quiana Lynell finished out the night I had a great conversation with a local police officer.  I know Officer “J” through hockey as well as a Officer “J” and Officer “B”.  Hockey in the Gunnison Valley brings people together from all walks of life and I appreciate knowing so many officers because of hockey and not because of my shenanigans. Officer J was sharing his story on the challenges of being an officer and he handles it with as much grace and class as anyone.  He’s the same on the hockey rink.  Good dude and I was glad to for some insight into the life of those who “protect and serve.” Thanks for your service, truly.

Tangent:  My Monday got off to an easy start. After some time as an “Email Warrior” I headed to Gunnison for a meeting, errands and a grocery run.  On the way up valley to Crested Butte I stopped for a short traipse to the East River so the dogs could get out of the car. I’d never stopped at mile-marker 13 and used the river access here so it wound up being a muddy stomp through a verdant riparian area before we got to the river.

I found a calm back water for stick throwing to my Blue Heeler mix “Pancho” who will share a birthday with me next month.  He’ll be 15-years old has has been in my life for 13 of those.  I’m going to be 47 but many people would nod if I said I was the one turning 15.

Pancho has some arthritic elbows from a life well lived and still loves chasing sticks with all the fervor of his younger days.  His eyesight has faded as has his hearing but he still gets fired up for a stick chase and swim and the cold water has to help with the joints.  

Throwing sticks for an “old man” like Panchy Wanchers is really gently tossing sticks and I spend more time making sure he sees the stick as it leaves my hand than before but he still LOVES it.  Coming back to shore so proudly with stick held largely between gums and shaking off the water that makes him fall to the ground more often these days.

But those eyes, those slowly graying eyes saying “I still got it, right Daddy!”

You sure do buddy.

He had a great day. I had to go pet him just now. He was confused about the why but leaned in anyway, he always does.

Now the other dog, a Chihuahua is known under many names but nearly everyone knows him as Homie. He’s also known as Dr. Sherlock Homeslice and to children who yell “Puppy!” he’s known as Homie-No-Touch. If he had thumbs to type he’d be on Twitter and his handle would be @8PoundsofFuryandHate. I made him swim I the river just to cool him down. He hated every…..single…second.  Sorry buddy.

Finishing off our hike bushwhack involved crossing a flushed irrigation ditch to avoid going back the same way we came in through the muddy banks (squish, slop) of the East River.  To cross it meant my new “dress” shorts needed to get wet.  I thought they’re only shorts, they’ll dry.  Wet legs went in the ditch twice to chuck both dogs across the ditch. Pancho faceplanted on his landing. (Sorry buddy) Followed by me gently pitching a Chihuahua across the final foot as he tried to swim across the air above the ditch. He hates water worse than people.

So we bush-wacked up to the road a thousand feet from the parking area where my truck waited.  It’s a good truck.

I don’t see a ton of trucks like mine because it’s an extended cab Nissan with a camper shell so when I see someone with the exact same truck I say:

“Hey, that guy has the same truck as me.”

I always feel a brotherhood with someone who has the same car as me. “That dude has good taste” I think to myself.

And as the truck pull out of the parking lot I noticed no other vehicles remained in the parking lot.  None. Like not even MY truck.

A lightbulb slowly goes on in my head starting at “dim” and methodically proceeded to “less-dim-but-never-truly bright.”

I’m absolutely sure you could actually hear the pieces of logic falling into place if you were close by.


“What the…”

“That’s my truck!”

And it was my truck, speeding southbound on Highway 135.  And I was NOT in it.

I called 911 and BARELY had cell service but was able to get the call out on my car.

Fortunately two officers were only a few miles away and one came up immediately to check the scene but the truck had snuck by them before the call went out.

Anthony Poponi is the Chief Happiness Officer and Keynote Speaker. His mission is to reclaim a joyful workplace by inspiring leaders to foster community, spark laughter, and create a culture your employees will rave about.

Most of what I know about police I’ve learned from documentaries like “The Big Lebowski“, “Fear of a Black Hat” and “Superbad” so I didn’t know what to expect when the car rolled up.

After a few minutes of questioning Officer “S” was kind enough to give me a ride to town.  Now this was not Homie’s first time in a police car. He’s wanted in 7 states for “assault to lower limbs” and it wasn’t Panchos first ride either for that matter. Pancho primarily being the gullible accomplice to witless violence.

To protect the innocent in the following somewhat fictional dialogue we will change the name of the Officer to Stefan.  Anthony’s full name will be used as his innocence died in 1987 when he first met alcohol (strawberry schnapps).

The officer asked a few questions about the truck and then what was in the truck.

Officer: Any weapons in the vehicle?

I thought for a moment.  I don’t own any guns or any real weapons so I meekly blurted.

Me: “A leatherman…..”

Which inspired a sideways look from Officer Stefan. You could feel him questioning my manhood with that gaze.

Me: “it has a knife on it!” I quickly added nearly spitting the words out.

He looked back at me with a gentle, nearly imperceptible shake of his head.  Disappointed in my insecurity and called it in….

Officer: “He says there’s a leatherman…”

Pausing to look at me with a nod and a smile….

“with a knife.” He held back his eye roll like a pro. 10 Manhood Points deducted my caveman brain said.

From there we headed south and flew, like nearly flew!, with the tires off the ground back into Gunnison with the flux capacitor engaged at 110%.

Turns out Stefan is badass and I took the time back to Gunnison between interstellar jumps to get to know his history in the military and in law enforcement.  Good dude.  After a while I got comfortable and starting poking around.

Me: What’s this button do?

OS: It’s the eject button.

Me: Like James bond style! No way! Really?

OS: No, not really

Me: Oh. Ha, I knew you were joking (I didn’t)

Me: [reaching for the radio] Can I call something in? I know a lot of numbers.  This is 8675309 looking for missing person named Jenny.

OS: [Slaps Anthony’s hand off of radio]

Me: Can I turn on the sirens?

OS: No

Me: What kind of gun is this?

OS: B.B.

Me: Small caliber. Like a taser! Wait, what? Ha. I knew you were joking (I didn’t)

OS: [Eye Roll]

We had found a mountain bike at the parking lot. Likely used to get to my truck, to take my truck.

So Detective Anthony,channeling everything he learned watching Beverly Hills Cops, said this…..

Me: So with the bike in the parking lot, fingerprints right?  You got any leads?

And the response, deliever with a side-eye glance was like this but without a word.

The Big Lebowski - leads?

Me: Right, maybe I’ll just take in the view.

OS: Good idea.

Now granted the view was us going lightspeed past cows, planets and nebulae and cars that somehow never heard the siren or saw the lights. We used all the lanes and it was glorious, confusing and arousing like the volleyball scene from Top Gun. Homie in the back whining and Pancho sleeping (LOL!) in the back of the cruiser.  So good. What a fun Monday!

The chatter on the police radio coming and going with a chase happening in the City at times and then fading.  We blasted, like literally out of a gun, east of town after a vehicle matching mine was spotted.  I peed myself and tried to work through scenarios where my dogs in the back seat could be blamed for the “micturation” on the front seat.

Radio squawks.  No luck. Wrong truck. We eventually head to the office to file a police report with the staff who broke out dog treats and a water bowl for the boys.  Officer Stefan left and I begged a ride from a friend and called the insurance company while strolling outside the Sheriff’s Office.

Tangent: I didn’t pick up the poop along the road outside the Sheriffs office. All my doggie bags were in my truck.  And I didn’t know where my truck was.  Good excuse, right? Ahem.

A half-hour later I get the call:

“We found your car.”  Hooray!  It was 5 blocks away.

At the scene were 5 officers.  I’ve been surrounded by cops before and like before it felt safe.  That’s a privilege and that fact is not lost on me.

As I walked up Officer Stefan was there and as I approached with Homie and Pancho he said to a colleague:

“You should pet the little guy (Homie) he loves people”

The best. Oh man. So good.

Turns out my truck was ditched.  Makes sense since the police were all over the place looking.

The truck unharmed. Some of my groceries were eaten by the “perp.” Fleeing the law burns calories, I suppose.  The choices were odd: imitation crab (don’t judge) and some passion fruit flavored @Honey Stingers from my console.

The saying “Hate the behavior not the person” comes to mind and forgiveness is a gift to both you and those you forgive. The science backs it up! Find 28 minutes to listen to that podcast by Dr. James Doty.

I forgave the behavior almost immediately and I’m genuinely curious and empathic towards someone who was making such terrible decisions.  Forgiveness is a gift. Except, who eats imitation crab with passion fruit Honey Stingers.  That’s a terrible palate and that’s almost unforgiveable. I can forgive a lot of things but seriously – you should be ashamed.

Full-Circle:  Off the three males: me, Pancho, and Homie. Homie had the worst day because I made him swim for 4.6 seconds.  Yes, my truck was stolen but I have insurance. I can afford insurance. I was hiking on a Monday afternoon while most are suffering through the “worst day of the week” and I had cooler full of groceries and a mountain bike and tons of other recreational gear in the back of my truck. I have it good and I had everything back…..minus a few bites of imitation crab and some energy blocks.  Listen, I don’t like people taking my things but they’re just things!  Someone stealing my truck bothered me wayyyyyyyy less than my former cleaning service [you know who you are] taking my liquor cabinet full of “adult happy juice” saying their team thought it was a guests. That’s a breach of trust. I invited you into my home and your team took 8 bottles (8!) including some of my favorite Suerte Tequila AKA “Mexican Happy Juice”.

Anyway, What a FUN Monday! And man it makes for a great story which you’ll hear tonight when I emcee at @IbarRanch. One of the finest concert venues anywhere. I’ll be sipping on some Suerte Tequila and laughing about my great luck. Suerte means “lucky” so I’ll likely be literally full of luck later tonight.

Dr. Marty Seligman will say using our strengths and values in service to others is part of “Authentic Happiness.” So, thank you Officers!  Dr. Seligman will also say we can learn optimism and hope and I encourage you to explore the those two characteristics that made what many would describe as “insane” into something I found so energizing and enjoyable.

Thank you for our small community. Not all communities get this type of responsiveness and a ride for their dogs from law enforcement. Not all communities have this type of relationship with the law.  Rural Colorado. Ah man we have it good.

I’m going outside now to make sure my truck is locked and will pat the truck on the hood and be grateful for all I have and then scratch some furry ears.

I have it good with or without my truck.

And if you want a little music to go with your blog use this link for my playlist called “My Stolen Truck

Anthony Poponi is the Chief Happiness Officer and Keynote Speaker. His mission is to reclaim a joyful workplace and joyful communities by inspiring leaders to foster community, spark laughter, and create a culture your employees and residents will rave about. 

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