language warning. Crudeness ahead . . .
I got a gob-full from a stranger today. Told-off, reprimanded, rebuked. You know the drill, but the awful part is that I was entirely in the wrong.
The gob-full was thoroughly deserved.
Doesn’t make it any easier to take, though. I wonder if you know what I mean and whether being reprimanded takes you back to childhood days? It does to me, and this might be what is referred to as ‘retreating to a default behaviour’ in specific situations.
Hard to believe, but I was censured a lot as a child. I was a ‘hyper’ kid, into everything and had mountains of unrestrained energy. I was often in a bit of trouble, so had the regular ticking off as part of my average day. It used to make me sad (initially) but then if it was a prolonged gob-full, followed by some sarcasm or teasing, it invariably made me mad.
Like seeing red, flashes of white, teeth-clenching anger.
So, the 2010 version? Well, we adopted a dog recently and have been attempting to train him. He’s a 10-month old bitser (aka, cross-breed), knee-high mutt, who didn’t even know how to ‘sit’ when he came to live with us. Let’s call him Effing Jones. He’s hard work, but he’s a pup. Pop Jones adores him, Pip is not so sure, and Mac and I wander between awwwww what a nice puppy, to OMFG, this effing dog has dug up that rose bush I inherited from a bud off the First Fleet and transplanted to Capt. Arthur Phillip’s house in Botany Bay!
If you have a pet, you probably get the idea.
On his regular walks, Effing and I practise the skill of ‘being’ off-leash and returning to the human (today, that was me) when called, for a pat and a schmacko ®. He’s not great at it, but he’s getting better. It’s like he’s not great at ignoring the washing flapping on the line, but he is getting better.
I choose a quiet place near our home that has cleared bush on both sides of a shared bike/walking/dogs on lead trail. With the distraction of neighbourhood dogs barking (their houses back onto the track), occasional bikes and pedestrians wandering past, I think Effing gets what he needs.
The thing is, he’s not great with the recall (to me) when he’s distracted by other fun things (dogs behind fences to bark with) *see ‘not great with‘ points above.* Unfortunately, the track was not deserted this morning, and I went to put Effing back on his lead when I saw a walker wander towards us.
This walker – bless his cotton-picking heart – was about 50 metres away when I realized I had NO chance of recalling Effing by the time they would cross paths. I called out to the walker that ‘I was sorry, my dog has gotten away from me. He is friendly and I’m really sorry,’ but the walker did not acknowledge me. Nor did he stop.
In fact, he was (rightfully) furious. Stupidly, I thought he was smiling as he stalked towards me, telling Effing Jones to ‘piss off’ when the mutt (wot I want to disown) bounded around him.
NOW, to be totally fair, I didn’t know this charming man. He may have been attacked by a dog when he was little, he may have suffered some sort of animal-related tragedy, or he may have a history of simply being rude and NEVER having made a mistake in his life . . . but the effing dog WOULD NOT come back, I was smiling and apologizing, I was saying ‘I’m SO sorry’ . . .
Bloody hell! Swearing ahead!
‘What the fuck? Call your dog back! Don’t you read signs, this dog should be on a leash!’
Me: (so in the wrong, I wanted to seep into the dry soil) I know. I’m sorry, we were practising some training and-
‘Well it’s fucking not working! What about that sign back there? The one that says dogs shouldn’t be off lead within 5 metres of the path?’
Me: (I know that sign, but technically, from the way I enter the track, it’s not THERE. I didn’t mention that. I was mortified AND Effing STILL wasn’t on his leash!) Yes, I realize. I’m very sorry.
‘You know? You fucking people are a disgrace. You have no idea! There’s a sign! Don’t you read?’
Me: (STILL trying to get that freaking dog on it’s lead. Effing seemed to delight in the game of ‘my owner is getting berated’. I wanted to crawl into the ground and hide. I wanted to KILL the effing dog). Well, yes I do read, but-
And then I thought he had finished because he took two steps onward and put his iPod back in. He was probably listening to fightin’ music. I was just about to proceed in an attempt to catch the dog and run home, race inside, lock door and put a pillow over my ears, when:
‘You know wot?’ (He was a Brit, not that this makes any difference. He was disheveled, middle aged, capped, angry, sweaty and still walking away. But his voice was raised that much higher) ’I'm fucking glad there were no children on this track. Your dog might have run up to one and killed it. Then it would be on your fucking conscience. Forever. Just because you didn’t read a fucking sign!’
Me: (Okay. At this point, I was almost beside myself. My heart-sorrow-guilt default had turned into the Family Monster of FURY! Now, not only did I want to kill the dog, I also wanted to kill this man. This charming man.)
‘Okay! Thank you!’
That was all I said. Oh-kay? Thank you? FFS, what sort of response is THAT? What I wanted – desperately needed – to say was: I know I’m in the wrong. I am sorry. We all make mistakes and I know Effing Jones might have given you a fright, but there is no need to be so rude. So abusive. In the same situation, I may have reacted angrily too, but once it was sorted out, I wouldn’t have given the “YOUR DOG MIGHT KILL A CHILD ONE DAY” speech. Even though, in a fatalistic sense of the word, that might be true,and this is why laws are made. Did I mention I was sorry? . . .
I was livid. Yep, I absolutely deserved to be dressed down, but sometimes a gob-full from a stranger is worse than the action preceding the rebuke!
Moral of the story: Every dog has his/her day, but bitches come in all shapes and sizes!
Announcing the release of the latest novel by Rosie Jones. It’s called ‘ZOMG: The Northern Fangirls’. To be in the running for a shipped direct-to-your-door copy, click HERE. No stranger has been abused, nor dog let off its lead in the writing of this story.