I am of the increasing opinion that manners are becoming a thing of the past. Especially in the cities. After being in Paducah, Kentucky for Christmas, it’s easy to see the contrasting values. Chicago is full of citizens who just don’t care; their way is right, they don’t care who it hurts or what laws are broken. As long as they aren’t inconvenienced then all is bright and sunny with the world. It’s an incredibly selfish worldview and my patience is growing more and more thin with each one of these encounters.
Case in point. This morning, I went for a run. I was feeling pretty good, started out at a good pace. I wasn’t even 5 blocks from my apartment when I came upon a man and his little doggy. He was an older man. Slightly overweight. His dog, in contrast, was a little guy wearing a sweater. When I saw them on the sidewalk about a half a block in front of me, I decided to run on the grass. You know, give them some room to walk. After all, he was a large man and I just thought it safer to avoid any hangups.
As soon as I get close, the dog goes for my legs. And he gets them, causing me to do some weird dance moves to shake it. I’m all for dancing in the niddle of the street – but this was dangerous. The dog wasn’t on a leash. The man? He wasn’t either (although I would have liked to wrap one around his fat neck.) The man didn’t even attempt to stop the dog. As a runner, I’m not stopping and if that dog gets kicked, it’s not my fault. I wouldn’t shed a tear. Why? This is why? Leash laws. They’re there for this exact reason. As the dog went for my feet, I said, “Put your dog on a leash, please.” Note; I said this without a modicum of emotion. If you’re a runner, you know, the last thing you want to do is expend energy yelling at someone. You got to keep those reserves in order.
What did the man do? Great question. You’re such a good blog reader. He pointed across the street and yelled at me, “I don’t have to leash my dog, I live across the street,” or something to that effect. I coudn’t quite get it because I had my earphones on and I kept running. No way I was stopping to have a political debate with a Polish immigrant (that I could tell form his accent – he was a big Polish guy.) I just kept running and calmly repeating, “It’s Chicago law. It’s Chicago law.”
And it is! According to Chicago law, I could have called animal control right there, and without injury to myself, the man would have been fined 300 bucks. It’s all right here:
7-12-030 Animals shall be restrained.
Each owner shall keep and maintain his animal under restraint; provided, however, that this section shall not apply to any dog being used for rescue or law enforcement work. It shall be unlawful for any owner to allow his or her animal to cross outside the property line of its owner to any extent, including reaching over or under a fence, or to keep or allow his or her animal to be outdoors on an unfenced portion of the owner’s property, unless the animal is leashed and under the control of its owner or another responsible person. In addition, it shall be an unlawful failure to restrain for an animal to attack, bite, threaten, or jump on any person without that person’s consent, outside the property of the animal’s owner. The provisions of this section shall be a positive duty of the owner and the offenses described herein shall be strict liability offenses.
Any owner who violates any provision of this section shall be subject to a fine of $300.00, if the violation does not result in severe injury or death to any person or damage to another person’s property. If the violation results in severe injury or death to any person, the owner shall be subject to a fine of not less than $1,000.00 and not more than $10,000.00. In addition to a fine, the owner may be required to submit full restitution to the victim or may be incarcerated for a period not to exceed six months, or may be required to perform up to 100 hours of community service, or any combination thereof. If the violation results in damage to another person’s property, the owner shall be subject to a fine of not less than $300.00 and not more than $1,000.00. In addition to a fine, the owner may be required to submit full restitution to the victim.
Yeah, buddy. I don’t care of you live across the street. Either does the law. Leash your dog or loose his Kibble ‘N Bits money. I’m super tempted to print this out with a personal note and post it by the guys house. Is that going to far?
Here’s a good way to put it – this goes to both dog owners and parents of small children — a film teacher once told me, in regard to getting a crew who would make my film come to fruition, “No one cares about your film other than you. No one will ever care about it more than you.” Meaning, you can’t expect people to really care about your dreams enough to foster them into reality. That’s your job. Same goes with dogs and kids. Only you think your dog is the most polite, harmless creature in the world who deserves the “cutie of the month” award. ONLY YOU. No one else does. Only you think your two lane baby carriage for your screaming brat deserves to take up the sidewalk because of your precious cargo. Everyone else can care less about your kid, or your cat or your dog. It’s just a fact.
The fact is, this behavior – this, “I can do what I want” behavior – has gotten out of control in Chicago. Taxi cab drivers are the worst. And if anyone knows me, they know that there’s no love lost between me and Taxi cab drivers. It’s like they think they’re all some version of Mad Max when it comes to flagrant violation of driving laws. The apocalypse hasn’t come yet, boys. Stop trying to make it come prematurely. From pedestrians, to dog owners to drivers to cops to consumers – no one cares.
Speaking of consumers, tonight I got another dose of the “me me me” principal that’s taken hold of my fair city. While working my retail job, a woman approached me with three of our warmest coats. She was looking for one of them in a small. She really wanted it for her kid and was in a big hurry. I called the stock room for a size. Before I could get through, she found a similar but all together different coat in a small and decided to purchase that instead. Her total was a little over $800.00. That’s not unusual for The North Face. The coats are good quality but can cost an average of 300 bucks each. She gave me a credit card but the back was not signed. Whenever I get a sale that big, I always ask for ID. Whenever I get an unsigned credit card, I always ask for ID. So, this was a double whammy. She claimed she didn’t have her ID with her but she had her social security card. I accepted that. She paid and wished me a “blessed day.”
Bad move, Timmy. An hour later a woman calls claiming her purse was stolen while she was shopping next door at the Water Tower Place mall. Because I didn’t get a picture ID, I just sold 800 bucks worth of coats to a impostor. At the time, I felt like something was sketchy, but instead of trusting my gut, I trusted in my inept sense that all people are good till they prove otherwise.
And that’s what city living has done to me. It’s taken that trait, a trait my parents instilled in me, and erroded it to a fine sense of suspicion and distrust. That sucks. Why is it that people feel they can take advantage of others? Why do they think they can do what their heart desires? Having witnessed it so many times, I’ve lost some of that good natured trust. Example: When I was in college, I gave change to homeless people all the time. I would even have chats with them. Then, in New York, I was swindled out of 109 bucks because a man said he needed train fare to get back to Boston. Now I don’t give change to anyone. Espcially since I know that the majority of beggers want their next fix. Unfortunately, you have to put that wall up or you’ll have 109 taken every week.
It’s just a shame that this behavior runs rampant in cities. I don’t like judging people without knowing them, but you have to in order not to get swindled or ripped off or bitten by a dog. I try my best to follow laws – maybe not on my bike, but I never put anyone’s life at risk on my bike. In a good turn, though, its made me much better at calling out these injustices. I could have just run past the man and his wimpy dog, but I called it out. I could endure cigarette smoke on the train platform, but I point at the no smoking sign on the wall. I hope that others can do the same. The city doesn’t belong to the selfish, so do your part and take it back from them.