How To Talk To Strangers With Disapproval

Sitting in the nail salon, getting a second-tier pedicure, and overheard this exchange at the door:

 Woman Poking Her Nose in the Door (Woman):  Does anyone in here have their dog in the car?  Is anyone’s dog left in the car?

All:  *Silence*

Woman:  There’s a dog in a car out here, is it anyone in here’s (sic)?

Perfect Stranger Minding Her Own Business:  My dog is in the car.  Is there something wrong?

Woman:  Well, I’m not a fan of that. 

Maybe more effective, and reusable.

Maybe more effective, and reusable.

She is  Not.  A.  Fan.  This has stuck with me for weeks, for several reasons.  No obnoxious inflection.  It was not, “I’m not a FAN of that.”  She simply wanted to let us know that she wasn’t going to hit the “Like” button anytime soon.  I don’t think the woman getting her nails painted was campaigning for fans.  I saw no evidence that she had taken a poll.  I’m betting (just a hunch) that she doesn’t have a blog called “Leaving Dogs in Cars” that she updates obsessively and checks the hits on every five minutes. 

 Before you decide I am on the dark side of the force here—I don’t take my dogs in my car.  They are geriatric pups who DO NOT enjoy the car, and if the temperature is one degree above balmy, they start acting like wee dachshund drama queens having their toenails torn out (or clipped).  I am not saying that leaving your dog in the car in warm weather is great.  I am saying:  If you are going to attempt a public shaming of a complete stranger, please have a better punchline. 

 As a public service, here are some suggestions:

 The Soapbox Preacher:  “You, Madame, are in league with Satan himself, and I shall forthwith make a cardboard sign decrying your villainy for the entire world to see.  The people will see it, and the shame reflected on humankind will make them WEEP.”

Here's a template for a cardboard sign.  This must be a very sad place to live.
Here’s a template for a cardboard sign. This must be a very sad place to live.

 The Psychotic:  “Really?  That’s your dog?  Because it looks a lot like MY DOG.  The dog that disappeared when I was eight, and my parents said went to a farm.  I know it didn’t go to a farm, though, because I called all the farms in a 500-mile radius.  I think YOU have my dog.  I think insert random dog name is in your car RIGHT NOW.”  (Even better if you are 40ish like me, and the dog couldn’t possibly be insert random dog name.)

 The Barney Fife:  Go ahead and make a citizen’s arrest.  Point at the offender and yell, “I hereby arrest you!”  Dig around in your purse/pocket for something to restrain them with, like a set of headphones.  Look at the item, say, “Well, shoot, guess I need to call Andy, ‘cause this ain’t going to work for handcuffs.”  Walk out whistling the theme to The Andy Griffith Show.

Keep it in your pocket, Barney.

Keep it in your pocket, Barney.

 The Reality TV Moment:  “Great!  I’m a producer for the show, “Animal Neglect: Mobile Edition,” and I’d like to get your signature on a waiver so that we can show your dog on TV.  You’re going to be famous!  Please spell your name for me so that we can get it right in the caption.”

 The Marcel Marceau:  Everyone loves mime.  Once you’ve found the nasty culprit, start into an extravagant set of mimed gestures that make it clear that you are really mad that the dog is trapped in a box.  Extra big bonus points if the wind is blowing or there are unexpected stairs/ropes.

 The Simplicity Itself: “It’s dead.  It was too hot and its head exploded like a can of biscuits.  Sorry to have to tell you the bad news.” 1

 Evil prospers when good people do nothing, I know that.  There are times when you are morally obligated to speak up or out or against some behavior, even in a room full of people you don’t know.  But do it with some flair, people—some blown-up, memorable, she’ll-think-twice-next-time FLAIR.


1 I was going to insert a picture of an exploded can of biscuits here, but that’s a mess to clean up and you didn’t really want to see it anyway.  Let’s just pretend.

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