“Don’t let him chase squirrels,” said one of the two elderly women coming towards us on the walking path at the park this morning.
“Why?” I asked, with a lot of disbelief and probably a little edge in my voice.
“Because it’s not good for them,” she responded.
“She’s 91 years old,” I said, thinking that these septuagenarians might recognize that a 13-year old dog can’t do much damage to a squirrel (anymore).
“Asshole,” said the second woman.
“I don’t care how old she is,” said the first one. “She shouldn’t be chasing squirrels.”
I ignored the name-caller and addressed the first woman. “Thanks for your advice. Have a nice day,” I said.
“You’re on the golf course, if you don’t know any better,” the first one told me.
“Thanks for your advice,” I repeated. “Have a nice day.”
After we parted company, I thought about all of the things I could have said to both of these lovely women. First of all, I am always surprised at the tiny minority of people who don’t think watching Madison stalking a squirrel is funny. Most people stop and watch. It’s quite amusing to watch her try to sneak her 55 pounds of bright white pit bull up to a ½ pound squirrel, thinking it might not notice. When she was younger, she was fast enough to catch them – she has caught four in her life – but now, there’s not a chance. She is clearly in it just for the sport of watching them dash up the tree and squawk at her. The angrier they are, the more fun it is for her.
I thought about the second woman, who called me an asshole because I had the temerity to disagree with her friend. I think lots of people are assholes, but I don’t generally tell them to their face. I honestly believe these are women who think that disrespectful young people – me are ruining the world. And *they* called *me* the name.
While I’m on the topic, let me tell you about my residents’ association’s secretary. I’ll call her Edna (not her real name). I am the traffic committee chair for our association, and I inherited a program from the previous traffic committee chair, which he never got off the ground, called Speed Watch. Where we live, the speed limit is 30, but people routinely come through here going 50 mph or faster. It’s a problem that puts families who live in our neighborhood in danger. And it’s annoying! So I got volunteers to go down to LAPD and get fingerprinted, and then trained on the LAPD’s speed radar gun. We choose a time and two or three of us go out, wearing fluorescent yellow vests, and clock cars as they come through. For cars going faster than 40, we note their license plate numbers, make and model of car, and the time. We usually do this for about 30-45 minutes, and we end up with a list of about 10-12 speeders. When we’re done, I send the list to our contact at LAPD, and they send out a letter to the vehicle owner, noting that the car has been seen speeding through our community. The letter basically says, please don’t go so fast. It’s not a ticket; it’s not even a slap on the wrist.
So Edna, our association secretary, does not like this program. She refers to it as a Nazi tactic. She has used this word frequently when we talk about Speed Watch. She also does not live off of the same main street where the speeding is such a problem. At our last association meeting, we had some new attendees, so I was explaining the program and what is required to participate. I noted that our President is excellent at holding the speed gun, and that I am very good at reading and remembering license plate numbers. It’s something I’ve always been good at (remember you can report out-of-state license plates?) So as soon as I said that I was born to do this job of remembering license plates of speeding cars, Edna said, “Oh, you were a Nazi in a former life?” I stopped whatever I was saying mid-sentence, looked at her and said, “That’s offensive.” She apologized right there. I’m going to call her and just make sure she understands why that word, in this frivolous context, is so offensive to me, because her continual use of it makes me think she really does not understand.
I guess it’s true – kids and old people don’t have a filter with regard to what comes out of their mouth.
And disrespectful young people are really ruining the world, don’t you think?