Two unusual experiences.

Yesterday I yelled at someone for the first time in my life aside from an instance in 2006 which I don't entirely count because of how unusual my circumstance was at the time, but if you want to count it then last night I yelled at someone for the second time (that I can remember).

Here is the story of my yelling at someone: (which is the first unusual experience and it will eventually tie into the second)
(this story involves 8 (F-2, S-2, A-3, B-1) swear words. If reading swear words is offensive to you, this is your warning to stop here, so you only have yourself to blame if you continue and are offended)

Last night, sometime after the sun had set, I took Margaret Melon(my dog) outside with this plan in my mind: She would go to the bathroom and I would walk her a few blocks to get any last energy out, I would then drop her off at home, walk to Safeway to buy groceries for dinner, since Marissa was getting off work shortly and I like to have dinner waiting for her.

Marissa and I live directly above a venue that people rent out for things like weddings and parties. (But mostly weddings.) Last night, according to the signage out front, a school had rented the venue. Since it is graduation time, I figured it was a high school graduation party.

When I came back from walking Margaret, I encountered a group of middle-aged folk crowded around the venue door, and since our door is only 2 inches way, it meant they were also crowded around the door which leads upstairs to our apartment.

(I was surprised to see middle aged people instead of High School kids and eventually realized these were the teacher/adult chaperones and the kids, who I would see later, were inside.)

Since there are often events held below us, crowds of drunk people around our door is common. They can often be loud and unpleasant but it usually isn't a big deal. Since Margaret tends to be excited by people with lots of energy and drunks really love dogs, this is usually fun for her. As we made our way through the people to our door, Margaret did something she often does in that situation, which is to sit down a couple feet from the door and wait for one of the drunks to pet or play with her, which usually happens.

Since these chaperones were probably not drunk and apparently not dog lovers, no one was paying attention to her and I was trying to coax her into standing up and coming in the door. At this point some guy walks up to, it seemed, re-join the group and the open spot where he had apparently been standing was now occupied by Margaret sitting down, waiting for the stranger's attention.

This man, rather than waiting for her to stand up, which she was clearly about to do, used his foot to shove her several times. I'm sure that even if you've never owned a dog you can imagine and appreciate the many reasons why repeatedly shoving someone's dog with your foot is a bad idea.

It was the sort of thing that was so....unexpected and rude that I was kind of stunned didn't know how to respond. I just watched it happen then went inside with Margaret.

As I walked up the stairs to our apartment, it dawned on me more what that guy did and I started to feel upset towards him and I wished I had something, but it was too late.

So I took Margaret inside and got my stuff to go to Safeway, still thinking about how I wish I had said something to the foot shover, when it occurred to me that my opportunity wasn't lost. Presumably he would still be there as I went back out the door on my way to Safeway.

Since regretting not having said something at the appropriate time can be very frustrating, I was pretty excited that I would have the chance for a do-over. I collected my thoughts and tried hard to be calm. Although I was upset at the guy, I also wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he probably just didn't realize what he was doing or was totally oblivious to human/dog etiquette. By no means was my plan to 'chew him out'. I just wanted to let him know that I wasn't okay with what he did, in as non-aggressive a way as possible.

I got downstairs, my adrenaline surging, tapped him on the shoulder and said 'It wasn't cool when you shoved my dog with your foot'.
While I'm obviously not the most objective source for this, I think I did a good job saying it in a non-threatening way. As some evidence of that and also of what sort of person this guy is, (uncommonly self-absorbed) he somehow thought I was congratulating him. He responded with his smirky laugh and said something like 'oh you enjoyed that huh?'. I made another unsuccessful attempt to get my point across, but It was only when the woman he was standing with told him what I was trying to say, that it sunk in.
Because I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and that by default I assume people are at least somewhat decent human beings, I expected him to say something like 'Sorry, I wasn't thinking'.
Maybe because he was still having a difficult time processing the fact that I was not congratulating him, he didn't really say anything. At that point, I didn't know what to do, plus it was fairly of uncomfortable for me, so I began my 1.5 block walk towards Safeway. After I took maybe 2 or 3 steps, he apparently decided to make it absolutely clear to everyone around that he is terrible human being by saying to me, 'Well tough shit!'.

There are several things I could have done at this point. I could have kept walking and said nothing. I could have walked back and got in his face. I guess you could say I pulled a Buddha and took the middle path between those two extremes. I turned around and shouted: 'DON'T KICK MY DOG YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!'.
It felt really good. It was exactly what I wanted to say and I didn't hold back. Though in retrospect, I wish I had walked back to him, not necessarily to get in his face, but just to confront him directly and ask why he was being such an ass-hole. Which had I done it right could have eventually led to a positive resolution.
As I was walking away I heard him mutter 'I didn't kick his dog'. Which is true, but yelling 'Don't use your foot to repeatedly shove my dog you fucking asshole!', doesn't have the same flow and potency. I heard someone else say 'Next time you shouldn't say 'tough shit''.

It was hard to tell what his colleagues thought of the encounter. It seems unlikely that an otherwise nice guy would have suddenly turned into a huge jerk in that situation(particularly since both times he was the provocateur), so most likely his colleagues also think he is a bastard and (although it may just be wishful thinking on my part) they appreciated seeing someone tell him off in a way their circumstance would not allow.

I went to Safeway, bought groceries and although I was a bit nervous he would still be in front of my door, by the time I returned I only saw High Schoolers and was relieved.

Fast Forward your imagination to this morning. I'm walking Margaret in this huge, beautiful, forested park not far from my house. It is the sort of park I've only ever seen here in Washington where the trees and flora are so dense that although you are in a big city, you feel like you are deep in a forest.

I tend to repeatedly think over conversations I've had. Not necessarily wishing I had said something different (though I sometimes do that too), but just replaying the conversation in my mind. And it is not only significant conversations, but mundane ones too. Sometimes I will be mentally replaying a conversation when I realize that I've been unconsciously moving my lips and quietly vocalizing the words I've been thinking, so if I had an observer, they would see me quietly acting out two sides of a conversation. (like a few nights ago when I was in a grocery check-out line and realized I was doing it after the checker looked at me wide-eyed)

So I was walking Margaret on this several mile trail that felt like it was deep in a forest but actually in Seattle, thinking over my encounter from the night before and probably moving my lips and quietly saying both sides of the conversation when I suddenly get hit in the side of the head. In the quick instant between getting hit and turning around, I realize that the asshole from last night was in the park too, saw me, maybe even heard me repeating our interaction, and decided to hit me in the head!

But when I turned around I did not see the guy at all (surprise! I misled you for dramatic effect! But I really had been thinking about him and in that split second, expected to see him), but a squirrel running away and a tree branch above my head bouncing up and down. A SQUIRREL HAD FALLEN ON MY HEAD! How often do squirrells fall from trees? (I don't know) and how often does it happen somewhere a human can see it (I don't know, but probably not often because I've never seen it or heard anyone mention it) and then for a squirrel to fall from a tree right on my head! It was really unusual!


libby said...

Chris, you're a really good writer. I enjoyed this post so much I read it aloud to someone, who also enjoyed it. Hurry up and move to chicago so we can be best friends already!

Chris Almond said...

Thank you very much libby! I would love it if I could somehow write professionally somehow, but I don't know how to go about it. I've made a few half-hearted attempts to submit writing samples places, but I'm not even sure I sent it to the right email address. Is the person you read it to your boyfriend Chris?

libby said...


Chris Almond said...

Well I hope we really do become friends in chicago.(not that we aren't already friends, but you know what I mean). Marissa and I have yet to make friends with another couple, but we would like to.

Fish Nat!on said...

Absolutely unrelated to this great story- I wish your little thing said "Bart, not ads" with a picture of Bart Simpson. Or maybe a picture of you from your youth with a Bart Simpson t-shirt on. I actually have a photo somewhere of me, you and Grey at my birthday camping trip, and I'm fairly certain you were wearing a near knee length Bart Simpson tank top.

Chris Almond said...

I want to see that picture! I totally remember that shirt. I had quite a few Simpson shirts at that time. Do you remember there were a few families selling black market, home made, Simpson shirts? I remember one of mine that was Bart Simpson wearing an Oakland Raiders uniform, whose paraphernalia was also extremely popular at the time. Was it you who had a shirt of bart making some negative remark about spider topped tooth brush he was holding in his hand, but since both the spider and the t-shirt were black, it just looked like he was upset about brushing his teeth? What a weird ass shirt.

nancy allman said...

I all so think that you are a marvelous writer. And I am so proud of what you did. I to will rethink many think and wished I handled it differently; I am so glad that you stuck up for your self! Jerks like that really need to be told off, maybe they will think twice about what they did next time. But I am not good at that at all, but on the other hand when I do stick up, I think I go overboard and then I spend the next few days regretting what I did. Like I wrote a note on the neighbors door, because there dog had been barking loudly and no stop for days, I went to talk to them and sense they weren’t home I put a note that said “your dog is driving me CRAZY” And I called the police. I think it was a little over kill and they probably never want to see me again, but they did get there dog to stop barking, so there you go. But it is now heaven in the back yard. So I say GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!! (just don’t let any one shoot you)

Chris Almond said...

Thank you very much mom. The dog kicker actually reminded me a lot of John Dougall. The moment I saw him, even before he did anything he reminded me a John Dougal. I wonder how the neighbors got their dog to stop barking? But it is a good thing they did, non-stop dog barking is the total pits. We are very lucky that margaret only barks once or twice a week, if that.