In The Wrong

Today I was harangued for something I did wrong and there was not much I could say in my defence. I began to say something in my defence before I realised there was nothing I could say in my defence. In fact, as so often happens when one is challenged, the crappy line you come out with is the opposite of the truth. I have never been so vociferously harangued and perhaps I deserved it.

I’m walking down the road with my dogs. We’ve just been to the park. One of the dogs hardly ever seems to shit. The other dog will either i) go off into the bushes and have a shit ii) have a shit on the grass where I can pick it up or most annoyingly iii) wait until we’ve left the park and have a shit in the middle of the pavement.

I’ve learnt that, although the dogs don’t even always have a shit when I take them out, I must take a couple of plastic bags with me to clean up the dog mess. Today as usual I had bags with me. Today, annoyingly, Winnie waited until we’d left the park before dragging her ass along the pavement and dropping a turd on the floor. A car drove past. There was no-one else around.

Now today, for reasons unknown, I could not be arsed to pick up the shit. I had the bags on me, I had the time and the energy, but not the compulsion to pick it up. Luckily a young mother in a passing car, ferrying her two young children from school, had both the time, the energy, and the blind red rage to put me on the right track. Was it the heat? Had some injustice happened to her that day? Was she suffering from stress? I don’t know.

The car that had driven past me as Winnie had turded on the floor drove fifty yards down the street and paused. The woman had watched me watch my dog turd and watched me walk past. I became aware that she had a cob on. Fifty yards down the road, two kids in the back, no-one else on the road on this very hot afternoon, she’s barking at me!

The car turns and bears down upon me. I’m on the left side of the road so she’s leaning across her young child to shout at me. By this time i’m proudly holding the turd in a white plastic bag.

‘Are you going to pick that up?!’

‘Its bastards like you who have a bag but don’t pick it up! My children are out on this street getting shit on their feet and its your fault!’

‘You shouldn’t have a dog!’

My dogs are not excited they’re sitting there open mouthed and motionless. Her children are sitting in the car open mouthed and motionless. They are not reacting to this in the moment. I look at the children and see that they are between 5 and 7 years old, I look at their junior faces and think that this incident could create a great impression on them – perhaps something that they will remember in later life. To give credit to their mum, she is showing great self control not to use swear words (beyond shit) in front of them. This is impressive considering that at this precise moment, I am clearly a symbol of all dog shitters everywhere, all inconsiderate males, perhaps more.

My initial, defensive reaction to the motor-harangue did not last but a short time. It was during the distance attack, before the woman had spun her Ford Ka around and charged up the street, as I realised yes she had stopped because I hadn’t picked up the shit and yes you-better-believe it she was talking to me.

I shouted ‘I don’t need you to tell me to pick it up!’

Now in hindsight, this was of course a classic exact-opposite-of-the-truth thing that you come out with when someone is having a go at you for something you’ve done and they are right and you are in the wrong but your defensive instincts summon up bullshit quickly (any bullshit! quickly!) to use as a shield.

In reality, I definitely did need this crazed lady driver with her this-is-the-final-straw-i’m-not-putting-up-with-this-anymore attitude to tell me to pick it up. If she had not stopped the Ka, turned around and had a go at me I might have done it again. I thought about this as the harangue continued.

‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself’.

As the shouting started to wind down I butted in.

‘You know what…?’ quite loudly, as if to announce, my turn now, you’ve had a massive go at me now i’m going to give it back, no matter who’s right and who’s wrong, we’re both angry, i’m going to give it back now and defend myself with the first argument that comes to mind.

‘…You’re right.’

Because she was right, and because, thankfully, I had managed to process this in time and my good sense knew that she was right and there was no need for a shield of bullshit and even though she was going mad at me there was no reason to be defensive. I should have picked the shit up. I normally do. Sometimes I don’t. I will pick it up every time from now on without exception.

She drove off.

I waved at her as she resumed her journey. This was my crumb of comfort. I had already processed this experience, took it on the chin, and although broken and humilated, I was over it enough to cheerfully wave at her as she drove off. She didn’t like it. She was clearly very upset and still angry.

It was a learning experience.


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