Small Furies

Recently, I hurt my back. It’s left me pretty much bed-ridden and in constant pain. My fleet has been understanding and supportive. They know I have the toughest bear race of my life in seven weeks, and I’ll be damned if I miss that, injury or no.

This morning I decided to venture out for groceries. A man has to eat after all. As I walked through an aisle, I overheard the sound of small, yippy dogs; you know, not real dogs, but those little snacks that pretend to be dogs. Upon closer investigation I found an older woman and her adult daughter, two dogs in tow, engaged in a heated debate with an employee. The employee was explaining that dogs were not allowed in the store. The women were claiming ignorance of this policy, citing their ability to take their dogs to every other store in the franchise without issue. The employee would reiterate the policy to them, repeating that there was a big sign at the front entrance stating no dogs allowed. The women would repeat their ignorance.

This circle continued on and on, in perfect rhythm, neither party tiring, much to my bemusement.

As I approached (for purely innocent reasons, as I needed to pass to get to the next item on my list), I commented to the women “Why not just take your stressed out dogs outside?” The dogs were barking at the tops of their lungs at this point. Apparently, I was the catalyst to ignite the fury of the older woman, who proceeded to direct her wrath at me.

Sensing the sudden swing in emotion of its master, her dog’s instincts must’ve been to protect. I say this because without warning it latched on to my pant leg, shaking its head back and forth, trying to tear into my flesh. My immediate reaction, of course, was to shake my leg, but the little shit wouldn’t let go. I swung my leg harder and harder, all the while the women screaming at me to leave the dog alone, calling me an animal abuser, while the employee ran to get help. Why did I get out of bed this morning?

Without warning, the dog released, skidding violently across the waxed floor until the length of its leash brought it a yelping stop. The two women glowered at me, their mouths running full speed.

The employee returned, manager in tow, who then proceeded to ask me to leave, completely ignoring the screaming women and the fact that two dogs were in his store against company policy. Maybe it was my unshaven face or my unwashed body. Maybe it was the stupified look of absurdity on my face at the request. I politely, yet firmly said “No.”

I guess the blatant refusal to submit to an underpaid retail clerk’s power play didn’t go over well. Next thing I know, security is being called as the women jeer, adding their own insults of how lucky I was they didn’t call the police, or the humane society.

I’m tired. My back has been in so much pain. I don’t take painkillers. Pain tells us what not to do; prevents us from making things worse. Pain can wear us down, affect our judgement, shorten our patience. Pain can bypass our brain filter in a heartbeat.

I tell you that so you will understand this. I lost my temper. I could feel the heat as my face flushed. I could hear the expletives leaving my mouth as if I were a stranger listening in. I didn’t care then. I don’t care now.

I vaguely remember knocking over every display stand on my way out but most of it is a red haze of outrage.

F*ck people. I can get groceries elsewhere.

6 responses to “Small Furies

  1. Hey Roc, Its been a while. Sorry to hear about your back and yes, most other humans.. meh!
    I hope you recover soon enough and without incident.
    Take care

  2. Good thing this didn’t happen in the US. Here, the two women would have been packing automatic weapons, the store clerk’s greatest ambition in life would have been to be on “Cops” as the savior who tazes a robber, the dogs would be military trained Rotweilers and your unshaven appearance would have made you a terrorist. In other words, you’ve dead and the viewing audience would have felt good about it.

    The older I get, the less likely I am to spontaneously intervene or even talk with people. Nothing good comes from trying “sort something out” and personal engagement is always punished. It’s a very depressing world view, I know and I hope you don’t get it (yet)

    But all jokes aside, do something about that anger. That can get you into real trouble.

    I am sorry to hear about your back, I hope you can give it the care it needs.

  3. Weighed up whether I would post this or not, but one of the things that garnered my respect was your capacity for focused aggression. Emphasis on the focus. Be it weight training, self improvement or helping others, there has always been a channel for that energy and a clear direction. What you describe isn’t any of those things.

    I know pain. And I know it’s capacity to distort. But I also know first hand that we are capable of making good choices in spite of it.

    We weren’t there, so can’t comment with any degree of certainty. But I will say this: you sir, are a good man. Don’t forget it.

    • It’s been unanimously agreed by those who know me that regardless of principle, where I went wrong was getting involved in the first place. I felt bad for the employee having to deal with this and inserted myself into the situation. Maybe the pain did distort my judgement more than I believed. Maybe I was accurately perceived as the more immediate threat by the manager. My grand exit would certainly confirm that.

      But yes, I am a good man. Thank you. I needed that.


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