I was at fault. And I told her so.
I had offered to walk a girlfriend’s little dog while she was away, and being a novice, forgot to take along what every conscientious dog walker should have: a bag for poop. Sure enough, little Mitzi unloaded on the corner of a householder’s yard.
The householder was outside clipping her bushes. When she saw Mitzi’s dirty deed, her eyes narrowed, her jaw clenched, and waving her shears, she marched my way.
I tried to intercept. “I don’t blame you for being angry. I’m so sorry! Would you have a plastic bag or just a piece of newspaper? I’ll pick it up right now.”
Oh no! The householder didn’t care that I was sorry. I should have brought my own supplies! I was a disgrace! My dog was a disgrace! She’d had enough of dogs pooping on her lawn! I should go home, get my own bag, and come back to pick it up.
“But I’m three blocks away. If you would just have an old piece of newspaper…the want ads maybe?”
No, no! Absolutely not!
She was more than angry. More than furious. She was enraged! With her imprecations ringing in my ears, I slunk away with Mitzi.
But after I delivered Mitzi, I went back. With a poop bag in hand.
The poop had been picked up.
I rang her doorbell. Timidly I held up my bag. “I did come back…”
Through the screen she snarled, “Too late! I picked it up! But it’s not fair!” Slam!
Whew. The householder's rage seemed to go so far beyond the actual incident, that I began to wonder. At a deeper level, could she be responding to a different reality?
Maybe she’d been going along, living her life, clipping her bushes, just trying to be a good person when suddenly, into her life had come some unexpected
s - - t. Something she felt she didn’t deserve! That wasn’t fair!
It can happen to us all, can’t it? In big and small ways. A boss lays off workers. A spouse asks for a divorce. Our investments disappear. Or a strange dog poops on our carefully tended lawn.
Those are times when we do want to scream, “It’s not fair! I don’t deserve this.”
But maybe the best that any of us can do—-really ---is to simply pick up and go on. If we let rage get the best of us, we won’t hear if someone says “I’m sorry” or “I’d like to help.” And then, no matter who actually picks up the poop, we will still be holding it in our hearts.