It's 7:30 pm and I'm composing this on my iPhone, sitting with Bingo in the car outside a bookstore in Tampa where my friend's son, Tom Daly, is giving a speech that I really wanted to hear, except I'm not hearing it.
Tom's speech is being recorded, hopefully to be aired on the C-SPAN Booknotes show. I spoke with him minutes ago, and he seemed a little nervous, understandably, about the cameras. He's a young, polite and clean-cut guy, an Iraq war veteran and now a published author (his book is Rage Company). Tonight Tom is surrounded by his proud family and friends. I, however, am sitting in the car.
The bookstore is one of those cozy converted homes, with small rooms and wood floors and with its main room set up with chairs and video equipment. A tiny house. I found a place in an adjoining room, attempting to place as much distance as possible between Bingo and C-SPAN. Even so, we were just a few paces away.
Some of you might be thinking that bringing Bingo was not a good idea. I'm sitting, with similar thoughts, here in the car.
Everything was going pretty well in the store until Tom was introduced and the applause caused Bingo to jump up from his nap, rippling his metal training collar chain against the wood floor. So here we are--Cheryl is still inside, in the main room, probably wondering why Bingo is so quiet. Possibly he and I could have stayed. Possibly he would have just gone back to sleep. But based on our experience with Bingo, I just couldn't take the chance.
As a dog, Bingo is a very good boy. He's very happy to sit here in the car with me. He was very happy and good (for a dog) in the store. But there are times when a guide dog needs to be perfect--quiet and patient, so that blind people can have access to events like this. So that they don't have to sit in the car.
Of course, we are completely responsible for Bingo's shortcomings, and we are resolved to do better in the future. Hopefully Jennifer and the other trainers at SEGD can move Bingo from good to perfect in a few weeks.
Oh well, maybe I can catch the speech on C-SPAN...