Sunday, May 12, 2013

Speak politely to an enraged dragon

Disclaimer: This is an unashamed expression of personal frustration. I am not responsible for any feelings of irritation, discomfort or amusement that may result from reading this post.

This past week has been challenging in many ways and I hope you will understand why on certain days I don’t like people very much.

Life is a bitch…

Yesterday, our downstairs neighbour’s dog attacked our younger son. This has been an ongoing issue ever since they brought her into their home as a sweet little pup over six months ago. Her aggression and hostility has been a burr under our saddle despite our somewhat feeble attempts to befriend her. We have put up with her nipping at our heels, chasing us down the driveway and making it unsafe to leave the house without ensuring she was restrained. As the ever protective mother, I stood outside our neighbour’s door to express my anger at their inability to train their dog. I waited until the lady of the house deigned to make an appearance, but it was not worth her attention. Her son, however, told me in no uncertain terms that we had not made the required effort to ‘make friends’ with their pet and had we spent time doing so, this would not have happened.  Wow!  You will agree from any standpoint that it was an irrational argument and one which I gave up on since instead of an apology I got an earful about my failings. Having slept over it, it struck me this morning…in the past four years, I have never been invited to associate with these neighbours or been party to any attempts to befriend me or my children. So, by their book, we are only fit to fraternize with their dog and not them!  The sheer gall and arrogance…

Texting madness    

While driving home late in the evening the other day, I was stuck behind a car that was slow and weaving rather strangely. I thought the driver might be drunk until I saw the light of his smartphone above his steering wheel. He was texting. I was peeved and to never lose a teaching moment, told our sons, who were in the car with me, that this is highly inappropriate behaviour. I was rather surprised when the car turned into the building next to ours. Feeling the need to make a point, I parked and walked up to the young man saying, “You must realize that by texting while driving you not only endangered your life but also of my children and me.” He was good enough to say he was sorry and then the zinger as I turned to walk away from a very civilized conversation, “You didn’t say thank you,” he said. “I don’t understand what you mean,” I replied. “You should have said thank you because I apologized even when I didn’t have to,” he said. Sorry begets thank you…that’s a new one for me…

Leftist leanings

In another enlightening driving incident this week, I was turning left at a T-junction when a car sped up on my left and scraped me in an attempt to get past. I pulled over just a little ahead but did not get out of the car. A six foot four man in a white pathan suit knocked on my window. I rolled it down a couple of inches and said rather aggressively, “Who overtakes from the left on a turn?” To which he replied, “There was more than enough space for a car on your left…You should learn how to drive correctly.” My jaw dropped. Really?

People say the darndest things

Over the past five years, people have shown stellar compassion in many ways but some statements like, “Millions of people die every day,” “You are not the only widow,” “Get over it,” have reflected an amazing lack of grace. It was not only the content but also the source that made it feel like someone had put a finger into an un-anaesthetized, open wound and moved it around. Last week, I got another gem to add to my list of things you should not say to someone who has lost a loved one, “You can’t fathom the pain of knowing the person you love is alive but with someone else instead of you.” Of course I don’t, you idiot!…I can’t understand personal choices that result in self-inflicted pain, I can’t fathom how excruciating it is to be able to call someone on their birthday and most definitely can’t work out how, if circumstances change, the person you love may suddenly become available, giving you a second chance to make things right. I do understand, however, that death is irrevocable and sometimes words that come out of your mouth are too…


So in the spirit of irreverence, I have now accepted an invitation for high tea with my neighbour’s dog. It will be an opportunity to acquaint myself with her wonderfully amiable demeanour and possibly make a BFF. I will drive on the extreme left to the sylvan surroundings of our rendezvous, while mailing and waiting for…a second chance…


“I'm making a list
I'm making a list of things I must say
For politeness,
And goodness and kindness and gentleness
Sweetness and rightness:
Pardon me
How are you?
Excuse me
Bless you
May I?
Thank you
If you know some that I've forgot,
Please stick them in you eye!”
Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

“A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot...”
Robert A. Heinlein, Friday