Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Civility going to the dogs…

We are a nation divided. Half of us want to do the responsible, scientifically proven gesture to help our fellow man; the rest think it’s just fine to walk their dogs and toss the collected bag of poo into their neighbor’s garbage can.

A friend IRL posted a harmless enough question about this behavior on the book of faces last week. Allow me to set the scene. My friend was approached by a neighbor who shouted out to him to stop putting his dog’s droppings (bagged, of course; he’s not a savage) in this fellow’s garbage can, positioned streetside along the dog walker’s daily route.

“Is this reasonable? What is the etiquette here?” my friend asked.

OK, anyone who has been on social media in the past, er, ever, knows that simple, earnestly asked questions such as this result in … screeching and screaming and way too much all caps.

A few of the less caffeinated folks chimed in with a simple and appropriate answer: “If he told you not to do it, the best thing to do is simply respect his wishes.” Wow. That’s some seriously good Emily Vanderpost type etiquette advice right there. Asked and answered.

Oh, if only that could’ve been that. But that’s not who we are, is it? We are ANGRY and PUT UPON and more than a little BONKERS.

While I don’t have a dog in this fight (ha!) I’ll admit that when I’m sitting on my porch enjoying my afternoon Sanka like Gladys Kravitz (ask your parents) and spy a dog walker drop Fido’s daily dose in my can, I’m significantly irked.

I cheerily shared this on my friend’s thread, prefacing it with an acknowledgement we have much more important things to worry about these days. Much more.

But still…

The reaction was swift from the tightly wound. One armchair psychiatrist speculated the protester was clearly a deeply unhappy soul whose “trashcan is the only thing he can control in his life.”

Another suggested the man who complained has no beef if the bag is duly knotted “unless the trash can is where he keeps his stank ass attitude.”

Paging Ms. Vanderpost…

“Some people are themselves garbage,” opined another, referring to the complainer. Whoa.

Another respondent who walks at least two of his four dogs at a time said: “It’s not reasonable to try and carry multiple bags of poop along the way.” While I snarkily consider that to be the very definition of a “you problem,” I didn’t jump into the fray. Once bitten and all.

Another shared his frustration after recently moving into a new neighborhood and getting a letter from the homeowners’ association informing him the neighbors were “repulsed” by the sight of him picking up dog poo with bag and not a specially designed poo picker-upper.

Repulsed? Isn’t that a bit over the top? I mean, this guy isn’t dropping his pants and joining Rover in solidarity so he wouldn’t have to poop alone in the Wisteria Lane cul de sac. That might qualify as worthy of revulsion.

And then the thread turned geographical, as it always does in the South, sooner or later.

“The Southeast is full of hateful people who are mad due to decades of religious oppression.”

Yes, guilty as charged. It’s not my reeking trash can that upsets; it’s the systematic, deliberate imbalance of power between the Christian majority and minority religious groups. Please shut up.

As one sage pointed out, this wasn’t even an issue back in the day. It’s true. Did you even grow up in the 70s if you never stepped on a dog patty and used rusty barbecue tongs to pry it from the crevices of your Family Dollar store tennis shoe bottoms?

See? We’ve made some progress, at least.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write to her at [email protected].

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