Saturday, November 6, 2010

The private beauty of restraint.

Secundus's scout troop is having a bake sale during the kids' Saturday soccer at the Rye Recreation Park, to raise money for a local charity. I drop by during his shift this morning, Leila in tow. As we're standing there in the field, momentarily isolated, one man and his dog on a bright blue leash, an older man ambles over from a nearby table.

"Is that your dog?" he asks.

Oh, oh, oh, too many, too many sarcastic replies fills my brain. So many that I'll have to categorize the potential responses according to the possible emphases within the four-word sentence. "Is that your dog?" gets a different funny from "Is that your dog?" "No, it's my . . ."

Taken by Tertius last year with his Fisher Price camera.
But I don't. And won't. Even now. The man is pleasant and a dog-lover. He smiles and pets Leila, who licks his hands. We chat about a show on Animal Planet, deploring the cruelty to dogs that it depicts. He has a faint Irish brogue. He's a regular volunteer for the Youth Soccer Program. I dimly remember that he was the man with whom my eyeglasses had been deposited a year ago, when I'd dropped them while watching Secundus play during my one true season as a literal soccer dad, and I wish he was available to track down the really nice pair I mislaid on Thursday. There are too many other people in this world who deserve my rudeness.

Like the woman I passed on the way to the park, who doesn't realize that reining in your dog to stop it attacking mine doesn't work if you only shorten your leash by about two inches so your lab mix can still reach her. Even when I have her tightly gripped behind my legs. But I say nothing.

Like the woman pulling out of the Citibank parking lot a few minutes after I left the Rec, who assumed -- quite wrongly -- that I was just going to stop my brisk walk and cede my right of way on the sidewalk to let her drive past. She stopped in time. And I say nothing.

Or like the woman yesterday turning left onto the Playland Parkway at Milton Road (site of many an incident), only to encounter me and Leila already halfway across the intersection. Your bad-tempered, long-suffering, arrogant gesture toward the red pedestrian light fails to take into account that I had, in fact, stopped in the middle of the road to let you pass, if you wished; that under any circumstances, light or no light, you ought to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk on a right turn; and that had I not refrained from pressing the crosswalk button on a day with almost no traffic, you'd have still been back on Milton waiting for the red light.

All of which I would have said, only she was already speeding toward the interstate, smug in her self-righteousness, unaware that I'd just shaved 30 seconds off a journey that's so important to her, she feels it entitles her to give up a little humanity and grace. Which is why I'm writing it now. There, I feel better.

1 comment:

  1. In California, if you are standing at the edge of a road, waiting to cross, cars will stop and let you across, even if you are still on the sidewalk. It's magic, though my son assures me that it's the law. I didn't trust local compliance enough to step into the street without the vehicles slowing first, but it is an amazing concept.