NOW and LATER

“Where are we going, Aussie?”

“We’re hurrying back South, Harry. We’re Dixie dogs, remember?”

“But I’m getting to like it here in New England, Aussie, especially now that spring is arriving and I can lie under the sun in the back yard.”

“You call this lying under the sun? It’s freezing, Harry. Besides, do you know what the Boss is doing?”

“I can’t imagine, but the way you’re running it must be terrible. Is it because she’s not letting us off-leash? If you hadn’t lost your training collar, Auss—”

“Worse.”

“Is she shutting the dog door during the day like she does at night?”

“Worse than that, Harry.”

“OMG, is she stopping to feed us?”

“Much, much worse than that.”

“What could be worse than that, Aussie?”

“Socialism, that’s what!”

“Socialism? What’s that, Aussie? Is it a new disease, like you-know-what?”

“It’s much, much worse than you-know-what, Harry. It takes food away from the rich and gives to the poor.”

“That’s terrible, Aussie. We can’t give our food away!”

“That’s why we’re heading home, Harry, I to Texas, you back to Mississippi. They don’t do dumb things like that down there.”

“What’s happened to the Boss, Aussie? Do you think she got the you-know-what and it’s affected her mind?”

“Dementia, Harry. Instead of getting us more food, she gets gift certificates from food stores to give out to families without food. If that isn’t dementia I don’t know what is.”

“Maybe their dogs don’t have food, either, Aussie.”

“And is that any of our business, Harry? You-know-what is taking over, Harry. Out there it’s everyone for himself, dog-eat-dog.”

“We don’t eat dogs, Aussie.”

“At least, not yet. You’re lucky you have me around for protection.”

“Aussie, the Boss has a big bag of food for us, dog treats, and even marrow bones.”

“You’re so dumb sometimes, Harry, I wonder how you put four legs together. I’m not talking about NOW, I’m talking about LATER. Nobody knows what’ll happen LATER, so we have to keep for ourselves as much food as possible.”

“But isn’t NOW more important than LATER? I’ve always hated it when we’d ask the Boss to take us walking and she says LATER. I like NOW.”

“I forgive you, Harry. You’re young; you think you’ll live forever. Listen to your older sister: When the world feels like it’s coming to an end you have to think of yourself, and not just for NOW, but also for LATER.”

“What happens when LATER comes, Aussie?”

“LATER becomes NOW, and there’s a new LATER. We always have to save food for LATER.”

I lost Harry and Aussie, but I have a suggestion, folks. You know how often we think about those who have little or no safety net? How that safety net has gotten shredded over the past 40 years? How the top 1% has more wealth than the bottom 80? Here is an opportunity to do our very own redistribution of income.

Ask yourself how much money you have, and how much money you need now. Notice how much less you’re spending on entertainment, restaurants, travel, and vacations. Ask yourself if you truly and deeply need that check that’s coming from the government (if it comes). Add it all up—and give it to those who are out of work with no income, without the wherewithal to put food on their table or feed their children.

Once a month, a wonderful Colombian woman comes to clean the house I share with Tim and Emma. I’ve known her for many years and we start the morning over a cup of coffee. She’s the one who used to host illegal workers in the local Chinese restaurant for Thanksgiving, telling me how they live several to a room.

“What’s happened to them?” I asked her this morning.

“They left the area,” she told me. “They have nothing.”

“But where did they go? It’s like this everywhere.”

She didn’t know. But she knows local folks who’re illegal here, who work at gig jobs and are now laid off, who won’t see one penny from our government. She knows mothers with children and no jobs, wondering how they’ll feed their families. It’s now spring, when most of the men head to the fields, but even the farmers are afraid so there’s no work.

We talked it over, I took the dogs for a walk in the woods, drove up to the local supermarket and bought gift certificates. I gave her two $50 certificates right off the bat—“That’s plenty,” she assured me, “they know how to make that last a long time.” Tonight she’ll talk to two other people—“My contacts,” she called them—and she’ll call me tomorrow and tell me how many more need gift certificates. I won’t be able to take care of all, but I can do some.

I can’t wait for Trump to lose the election, I can’t wait till our political leaders come to their senses. I have to start redistributing income on my own, right now, starting from me. I know the refrain, I hear it from people: But you never know what’s going to happen. You never know how much you’ll need, especially with everything that’s going on. You have to think about LATER.

I don’t live in New York, I have no medical background, and can’t volunteer in hospitals. But I can do this.

Not to mention all the money I’m saving from not feeding runaway dogs.

“Aussie, I think I’m ready to go home now.”

“Harry, you have to think about LATER. You have to plan for your future.”

“Yes, Auss, but NOW it’s raining, NOW I’m hungry, NOW I’m cold. Do you suppose she left the garage doors open so that we could get back in?”