So I had another neighbor encounter the other day. But instead of just the usual tale of an awkward moment, this conversation provided me with some interesting information about myself.
I was outside my apartment, standing in the hall locking my door, preparing to go out for my morning walk to the employee bus stop. The neighbor opened the door at the same time, and his new puppy came bouncing out of the apartment to wag his tail at me.
Now, anybody that knows me will tell you that I have a problem with dogs. I AM OBSESSED with them. I’ll talk to them on the street, blow them kisses, wave, wink, squeal … Facebook style real life actions.
I also rarely acknowledge the human if there happens to be an owner. Which is problematic when you stop on the street, have a conversation with a dog, give him a pat on the head, then flounce away when you’re done.
The pat is for the dog, not the owner that is.
But I had already met this particular neighbor a few nights before. He’s on the same floor and the owner of a new puppy. And for days, I had been hearing his poor puppy cry his heart out every time the owner left. A soulful wail of a faithful dog missing his master.
So on our first encounter it was this observation I explained to the neighbor. He quickly apologized for the noise, which wasn’t my intent, so I explained that I just wanted him to know how sad the puppy was when he left the house, and that he was a loyal dog missing his company.
But there was no time for further conversation as I was running out to meet friends for our annual night walk up to the Genocide Memorial, and my taxi was already waiting, so I hurried away down the stairs.
After patting the puppy on the head of course.
I heard him say something as I was scurrying down, but I just muttered “ok” and kept going.
Back to Encounter #2
I petted the wiggly puppy trying to chew at my shoe, and again explained how much the dog loves his owner and cries constantly while he’s gone.
To which the owner replied, “All he does all day is shit and piss, and I have to clean after him all the time”. This was when I noticed the roll of paper towels in one hand, and a garbage bag in the other.
And remembered that he had mentioned this before.
But the “before” was the eve of April 23rd, my mind had been elsewhere, and I don’t think I had responded to him about the pooping and peeing issue.
Unfortunately, I responded this time.
“Well you know, for a puppy, shitting and pissing is in his wheel house, it’s at the top of his skill set, so he’s demonstrating for you his top proficiency.”
As the words were leaving my mouth, I could almost see them. An out-of-body experience of lunacy.
And I wish that I could say that my tone was comical, or chiding (to the puppy), or cutesy, or anything else but business-level management-mode serious.
But I can’t.
The finale to encounters #1 and #2 was to avoid eye contact with the human, pat the puppy, and make a quick exit down the stairs.
In hind sight, these encounters actually provided me with some valuable insight into my brain.
- I see puppies as being mindful creatures with résumés – why else would I be tossing around buzz-word bullet points?
- I lose all perspective when I see/am in the presence of/or talk about puppies – there’s no cure for this, I might as well own it.
- When I converse in English outside of a social setting, I revert to business mode – English is absolutely the trigger, since I never revert to business mode when fielding engagement proposals from gold-toothed taxi drivers.
- I like to classify life in order of #1 and #2 situations – but doesn’t everyone?