That evening we arrive at the big house. One of the residents is strolling through the front yard with headphones on. His wife instructs us. The dog must go outside 2-3 times and is absolutely not allowed on the imposing leather couch in the living room. She says her son is home too. I almost ask why he doesn’t just watch the dog, but luckily remember the small fee.

My brother and I sit on the leather couch as we take turns kicking away a chewing toy that the puppy then brings back. My little brother is concentrating on learning words for English and I am trying to figure out how to define the broader context of the passenger transport industry in Europe using a selection of scientific articles in 500 words.

After an hour, I let the dog in the garden. In a bedroom window I for a moment think I see the son. The puppy starts barking wildly when she sees a mail carrier standing outside the high fence in front of the driveway. The delivery man has a package with fragile contents for our acquaintances. My brother and I try to decipher the control panel in front of the gate so we can open it. My brother quickly decides to call the resident. She asks if we can have the package handed to us over the fence just to be sure. My little brother pulls himself up on the fence and, with difficulty, manages to take the box.

Later in the evening, I use Google to figure out what a broader context is. A silhouette briefly flashes past the glass door to the hallway. “Let’s hope that was their son”, my little brother says.

At the end of the evening, I tactically decide to just write the report tomorrow morning. The deadline isn’t until tomorrow afternoon anyway. I turn on the television. Ranking the Stars is on. Five minutes later, the residents enter. A cheerful ‘hiiiiiii’ is followed by a bone-chilling ‘oh’. We rush toward the front door and are overcome by an intense stench. Scattered across the kitchen floor is fresh dog shit. Windows are quickly thrown open so that the stench is a little less intense. Half stiffened, we grab some toilet paper and help clean up. After all the turds are in a garbage bag, we begin to scrub away the stains. The resident suddenly jumps up and rushes toward the living room. The dog is lying on the leather couch.

When the cleaning is done my little brother and I mutter ‘sorry’, after which the occupant lies that it is no big deal. We rush through the front yard toward the gate, which, thank God, is still open. When we’re off the property, my little brother crouches, covering his face with his shirt, full of shame. I stare at the small fee in my hands which still smell like poop.