A Journal of Life Pursued

A Momentary Loss of Good Judgement

In Dogs, Life on June 20, 2012 at 10:00 am

I pick up…

I wrote the following on Saturday, the 15th.

I lost my composure yesterday. Perhaps if I tell the story I will feel better. What is the good of the blog if I can’t use it as an instrument of catharsis?

We are dog sitting. Tim and Candace are out of town. Tim’s dog, Tanks, is one of the sweetest dogs I’ve known, with a big laughing smile of a face and an easy-going disposition. He also happens to be an eighty-pound pit bull.

* * *

Carole walked Tanks five steps behind me and Lucy. We were headed home. Mission accomplished, we each carried a poop bag, full. A man approached us from behind. “You keep that dog away from me,” he said, gesturing to Tanks.

I laughed. “This is the one you should be worried about,” I said, turning and scratching Lucy’s ears.

“Keep that dog away,” he repeated, as he walked closer. “That’s not a pet. That’s a monster.”

I heard no humor in his voice. This was not a joke. Further, he had insulted Tanks–and us, as if we would walk a monster down a street in Portland. This immediately rankled me. But I recovered.

I scratched Tank’s ear. “Naw,” I said, “this guy is just a big lug.”

The man continued his rant as he passed. He tried to get in his car, but the key wouldn’t work. He was maybe forty years old and wore jeans and a nice sport shirt. He had tinted glasses that hid his eyes slightly.

“What is your problem?” I asked. “Beside not being able to get in your car.” I employed a touch of sarcasm. He moved to an adjacent car. “We’re just out walking our dogs. It’s a nice day. Leave us alone.”

He continued in the same vein, ranting. He was relentless. We walked on. I don’t like confrontation. To equal measure I don’t like idiots. (I was beginning to muster a bit of attitude.) In the correct car now, he was pulling away. He rolled the passenger window down, continued to yell, impugning Tanks and us, his walkers. I noticed New York plates. I apologize to my New York friends for the following:

“Oh, I get it,” I said. “You’re from New York. No wonder you’re an asshole.” My composure was not yet lost, but had taken a wrong turn. His bizarre haranguing continuing. He pulled up next to us, shouting through the passenger window; verbal vomit on the societal dangers of pit bulls, owners of pits, and so forth.

I suspect, reader, you must think I am leaving something out of this account, an action that provoked him. Yes, I called the man an asshole. That was a step in the wrong direction. But nothing transpired prior to that, nothing to trigger him but our existence.

He rolled past us, window down, frothing. I thought: Do I throw it or lob it? I could throw the poop bag or I could lob the poop bag. Or I could continue to walk away.

I am happy to report that the bag cleared the open window easily–he had pulled less than two feet from us–and landed directly and softly in his lap. That shut him up. I quietly cheered my precision.

“Now why did you do that?” Carole asked. She is an unfailing source of the right question.

“I couldn’t resist.” I grinned, sort of.

The man pointed at me. “You stay right there,” he shouted. “Stay right there.” He rushed to pull his car over. I thought: Doug, you’ve gone and done it now, gone and provoked a madman.

“Hey, look,” I said, leaning to him. “I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry. Open your door. I’ll get the bag.”

“I’m calling the police,” he said. I looked at Carole. She looked at me. I think we both felt slightly better about my poop pitch. The dogs watched mutely. (Where they enjoying silly human antics?)

“Okay,” I said. “Do what you want. We’re walking home.” He wagged his finger at us. He told us to stay put and of course we ignored him. He held his phone to his ear. He let his car running at the curb and chased us down Commercial Street. I confess to slowing my gait, as if to taunt. A few blocks later, I turned to wave goodbye. He frowned at me then looked up and down Commercial. He was certainly desperate for the authorities before we made our get-away.

I am a civilized man. But insult my dogs while I’m holding a bag of poop and I cannot guarantee a civilized response.

I feel better now.

Thanks for listening.

  1. Very impressed; this post and somehow the odd autogenic vomiting post offer a refreshing expression of the formidable dimension you possess as a polymath. There is also a sense of something interestingly deeper at hand, a sense of an uncharacteristically plebeian frustration that is not unlikely to be somehow associated with your recent itch for travel and adventure. Kudos to you for sharing.

    • Kvnpete – thanks for this note. I find it very interesting and makes me feel like I just got off the analyist’s couch. I’ve read it multiple times and thing you’re perhaps on to something. Regardless of all that it is a compliment and I thank you for that. Thanks for following the writing and I welcome your future insights.
      D

  2. I LOVE this…and I’m originally from NY. Congrats on your 2nd pitbull granddog! Excited for you to meet Molly. And so pleased she’s being welcomed into a pit-loving family who doesn’t put up with ignorant nonsense :)

  3. Doug,
    Brilliant. I applaud the nobility of your poor judgement.
    Prepare for this story to go viral!
    Unfortunately, Google may enable the jerk to find you.
    -Craig

    • Thanks for the support, Craig. I’ve gotten a lot of feed back on this post, all of it positive. I’ll let you know if Google blows my cover.
      Thanks for reading and the comment.
      D

  4. Ah, you behaved better than I would.

  5. Epictetus says…

    The appropriate response to bad deeds is pity for the perpetrators, since they have adopted unsound beliefs and are deprived of the most valuable human capacity: the ability to differentiate between what’s truly good and bad for them.

    Upon reflection, perhaps Epictetus would applaud your action as a step toward the perpetrator’s development of human capacity, i.e. understanding how one’s bad deeds can be bad for oneself.

    PS: Good thing you don’t live in Texas.

    • Interesting thoughts, indeed. Blessed are the pity makers for they shall know dog.

      There is too, the sharp juxtaposition between posts Oh Mani Padme Hum and this one. Upon reflection, I could have looked at my arm and reminded myself to practice patience, or perhaps self-discipline. So much effort gone to waste. But at least I was mindful of my action. Mindfullness is usually the first to go, so I find consolation there.

      Thanks for the thought.

  6. I understand. I don’t condone, but I most certainly understand.

I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading.

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