A question of waste

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Laura and I became involved in a brief argument Sunday morning, not with each other but with a woman who loudly accused us of not picking up after Ella. She did this from some distance away, crossing the street toward us on a diagonal. After some hostile back-and-forth, I think we managed to convince the woman that the deposit our dog had just made was liquid in form and not solid, but our case was not helped by the fact that Ella had done so in the midst of a whole lot of old turds that had freshly been revealed by the melting snow.

The woman was understandably upset by the fact that some irresponsible owner was failing to pick up after his or her dog, and indeed this upsets us as well. It's not just that we sometimes get blamed for other people's failings. It's just ugly and unhygienic, and it's a hazard to the soles of one's shoes.

But the argument itself was upsetting enough that Laura and I spent a while afterward trying to come up with some better responses to false accusations of failing to scoop poop. How do you pithily yet politely point out to someone that the act they thought they saw was really something different, and head off an angry confrontation? Preferably it would something more disarming than simple denial.

The best we came up with, though I'm still not sure it's very good, was this: "I've tried and tried, but I still haven't figured out how to pick urine up off the ground."

The one I want to keep in my back pocket, though, for when the argument escalates, is this: "Okay, then, would you please mind touching the pile of turds you think my dog just produced? If it's warm, I'll happily pick it up."

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/485583.html ]

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on February 11, 2009 1:10 PM.

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