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by Paul Raworth Bennett
Today, I almost did a terrible thing.
My dog Bingo and I were taking our usual morning stroll, walking briskly west along an eastbound one-way lane. As we passed in front of a daycare centre and playground, a row of angled parking spots was on our left.
Suddenly an enormous, late-model Cadillac Escalade SUV – six figures’ worth, I reckoned – turned right in front of us, muscling its way into one of the spots and missing us by about six feet.
Fortunately, I stopped on a dime; if I’d been distracted, Bingo and I would have been hit for sure. After the SUV was parked I approached the driver’s side door, ready to serve up a piece of my mind.
The door swung open and the driver hopped out. In front of my eyes were top-grain leather boots, ripped and acid-washed jeans, a cashmere sweater, a diamond necklace, and designer sunglasses perched atop a flowing mane of bottled-blonde hair. A leggy late-30-something, the driver was impossibly beautiful, salon-engineered with botoxed lips, flawless makeup and perfectly-manicured, frightening nails.
After scanning me up and down, she looked blankly at me as if nothing untoward had happened.
“I hope you don’t always cut off pedestrians like that,” I said calmly. “You almost flattened me and my dog.”
“I didn’t cut you off,” she replied dryly, “you had plenty of room.”
“Actually, you did. We were walking very quickly and if I hadn’t stopped abruptly, you would have nailed us.”
“That’s ridiculous. What a load of crap!” she huffed, tossing her head back like they do in shampoo commercials and adjusting her sunglasses.
“It was very close and you just ignored us. You do know that pedestrians have the right-of-way, don’t you?” I admonished her, the hairs on the back of my neck bristling.
“You need to watch where you’re going,” she sneered.
“You need to learn some basic manners,” I shot back.
“YOU need to learn some manners, loser! Get a life!” she yelled, as a droplet of spittle landed on my jacket. And as I just stood there – wondering what I’d done that was so rude – she grabbed her Louis Vuitton handbag, slammed the door of the Escalade, turned on her lacquered heels and strode off towards the daycare, a mist of perfume in her wake.
For a few seconds, it was all I could do to stop myself from lobbing the f-word and the b-word in her direction; I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had so much fire in my veins. Fortunately, I quickly realized that hurling expletives at each other would only make a bad scene worse – so I flicked off the spittle, turned around, and Bingo and I continued on our way.
I casually put my hand in my jacket pocket and my fingers touched something soft and warm at the bottom. I winced as a familiar aroma, well-known to all dog owners, drifted up into my nostrils. It was Bingo’s twice-daily gift to Mother Nature, tidily knotted off in a thin plastic baggie. I recalled how once, after absent-mindedly shoving my hand into my pocket too quickly, I had to wipe my hands on a nearby patch of grass and rush to the nearest public washroom.
A couple of minutes later, I looked across the playground and spied the SUV. Six thousand pounds of gas-guzzling arrogance, it was sitting there, spotless, like a thirsty steel-and-glass hippo in a watering hole.
And when my eyes caught the glint of sunshine reflecting off the windshield, my mission became clear.
My id locked horns with my superego, their tussle injecting me with another shot of adrenaline. Nobody else was around, I’d only need about ten seconds, and if I handled the baggie carefully I’d be able to keep my hands clean. Fast, simple, and fun!
My heart thumping in my chest, I walked towards the vehicle while scanning around for some nearby bushes. She’s probably just picking up her kid from the daycare, I thought. I could get the job done, hide in that hedge over there, and wait around for the show! (It didn’t occur to me that Bingo might blow my cover.)
We were almost back at the Escalade when she emerged from the daycare dragging a smartly-dressed, whining little boy towards the vehicle. She spied us, looked away, and pushed her son up into the front passenger seat (where there was no child safety restraint system). Then she strode around to the driver’s side, hopped in, revved the engine, backed out roughly – this time, missing me by about ten feet instead of six – and squealed her tires while speeding away in a playground traffic zone.
Foiled, I clenched my teeth for just a moment… and then I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and looked down at Bingo. His beautiful, brown, unblinking eyes met mine while he wagged his tail, as usual, in circles. Then I tossed his little gift bag into a nearby trash can, focused my thoughts on gratitude, and walked slowly home.