Friday, 10 February 2012

The Sidewalks of Glasgow

I have a brand new pair of shoes.

Now I am only telling you this because for me this is huge. I only buy shoes after long and careful deliberation, when my old shoes are full of holes or practically falling off my feet. When I do have new shoes, I make a big deal of it. I pull them out of the tissue paper nests of their boxes, breathe in their delicious new-shoe smell, and admire the wonder of them on my feet. I would almost leave the price tags on them to show that I, cheapskate Mary, have taken the plunge and shelled out for brand-new footwear.  As you can probably imagine, I treat my new shoes with extreme respect, only wearing them to work or 'out', and bending over backwards not to scuff or sully them.

My current new shoes are right-off-the-charts wonderful. They are comfortable, attractive, warm and well-made and, for all that they were on sale, still a good brand. They also have a good, deep tread for walking on icy streets, a real must for a klutz like me.

So the other morning, when I accidentally planted my feet squarely in the middle of a big, wet, freshly-left dog mess right smack in the middle of the sidewalk, I was beside myself with dismay. I'd been busy adjusting the strap on my backpack and I hadn't seen it. But there was no way whoever was walking their dog could have missed it; it would be like missing Texas on a map of the U.S.A.

I did everything I could to get it off my shoes. I tried to get off the worst of it by raking my feet through grass; I used a stick and what Kleenex I had in my bag and I scraped the soles of my shoes on the edge of the curb at every block. But it was all in vain: the stuff had filled every single square millimeter of tread. And it stank to high heaven.

When I got to work, instead of doing the copying I needed to do, I had to wash dog-do off my shoes. I attracted a fair amount of attention in the Ladies' restroom, but after 20 minutes of unstinting effort, my shoes were 99% crap-free. My heart, however, was full of rancor for the people of Glasgow. How inconsiderate for someone to leave such a mess right in the middle of the street where anybody could step on it!  What kind of boors would do such a thing?  Although a lot of dog owners do clean up after their dogs, Glasgow sidewalks can be a real hazard course. As I sprinted across the campus to get to my class on time, I couldn't help but notice all the steaming piles left right there for me to step on. Every person walking a dog got a long, hard look from me.

Then, during the final 15 minutes of my last class, a student told me a story. Her friend, newly arrived from China, had gone shopping. At some point during the day, she had dropped her wallet, full of cash, her passport, student ID, and a number of credit cards. "In China, if you do such thing, you must forget it," my student said, shaking her head. "You will never see wallet again. But my friend, she went back to home and she had a call from university. Her wallet was there! Somebody find it and give it back!"  All the money and documents were still in it too, amazing and delighting the owner and all her friends. "People in Glasgow honest people," they unanimously concluded. I told them my story about losing my mobile phone and getting it back. I was grateful to them for reminding me that there are plenty of good people in Glasgow, dirty sidewalks notwithstanding.

Even the dog-walkers got big smiles from me on my way back -- on the few occasions I looked up.


Lisa Shafer said...

Glad to know there are some honest folks in Glasgow, but I still think a city -- ANY city -- is no place for dogs. Ugh.

Eryl said...

Shoes with deep treads are wonderful for gripping, but they are, sadly, not particular about what they hold on to.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm making a face. yek. been there, though.,

Mirka Breen said...

I held my nose and ached for you, then cheered for the honest Scots. What a lovely mess.

Vijaya said...

And this to happen to new shoes. Terrible. Well, the sidewalks couldn't be worse than in France. This was my biggest annoyance while living in Europe -- all those toy dogs doing their business everywhere and the owners just letting it be for us to step in ... (and some days in was sandals). Ugh.

Now that I have a dog, I always have baggies (and treats) in my pockets.

Ruth Kelly said...

I lost my passport at Heathrow and some wonderful person turned it in so I did not have a hassle when I left the UK heading back to America. There are nice people all over.

Kit said...

Nothing worse for new shoes!
Wish we could train our dogs to pick up after themselves. I managed to tread in something somewhere the other day (inside or outside I'm not sure - it had been thundering that night and the dogs tend to lose their house-training in fright) and walked around the house for at least ten minutes before I realised that the smell was emanating from underneath my foot not from the dog following me ugh!

Kim said...

This post put a smile on my face :) We live in Argentina where dogs run freely, so you can imagine the state of our sidewalks, yards, fences... pretty much any area not fencing dogs OUT. And we've even discovered dog-do in our back yard from small dogs who can fit under our fence, and do so while chasing the neighborhood cats. *sigh* Quite a few dogs are also kept behind fences (properties are fenced, for the most part) for added security and as you walk by they like to run up to the fence and bark loudly. The first few times about gave us a heart attack. hahaha But we've learned that if we take our walks during siesta, even the dogs like their afternoon naps and we can proceed unmolested :) But we ALWAYS check our shoes before coming back in the house after a walk.

Jaye Robin Brown said...

Oh no - your new shoes....

Adrienne said...

First, I'm with you on the shoes. I've been searching for months for the right pair. Of course, I want them to be cute, comfortable AND cost next to nothing, so I'm not asking too much...

As for the dog thing, I watch people let their dogs go right in the middle of the sidewalk and just walk away. Right in front of me. We're not in a big city, so I just don't get it. But then, we have coyotes running around at night too. No one cleans up after them.

Mary Witzl said...

Lisa -- The city's no place for dog-owners with bad manners, that's for sure. Especially when the grass of almost every park is a total MINEFIELD of turds.

(Speaking of Glasgow, have you heard of the Glaswegian comedian Kevin Bridges? He recently visited Utah and I have to send you the URL -- it's hilarious and you would particularly enjoy it.)

Eryl -- These shoes had a little hollow at the back of the heel that held extra stuff. I only discovered it after my 6th or 7th trip to the Ladies.

Charles -- Haven't we all? Let's keep our eyes peeled to avoid going back.

Mirka -- I could have hugged and kissed whoever found that wallet and turned it in -- without leaving their name or number. They have no idea how their actions have promoted Glasgow in the eyes of dozens of visitors.

Vijaya -- I'm tempted to start carrying bags myself, just to make a point when some dog owner 'forgets'. I know it's no fun to have to clean up after dogs, but for pity's sake!

Thank you for reminding me about sandals, though. I could have been wearing sandals!

Ruth -- It always makes me so happy to hear about little acts of kindness like that. With all the meanness, spite, and out-and-out war, it's incredibly comforting to know there are people who look out for each other and follow the Golden Rule.

Kit -- One icy morning when they were still very nervous, one (or possibly both) of our cats used the coal skuttle to 'lay an egg' in. I was going mad, walking around the house trying to find it -- but my nose finally led me right to it. I still don't know how the cat managed to balance on the metal rim of the coal skuttle; it was disgusting, but a pretty impressive feat.

Kim -- No doubt about it: where you live is worse than Glasgow. At least the dogs there are on leashes.

There was a dog in our neighborhood in Japan that lived for the pleasure of racing up to the fence and barking its head off when people walked by. It was a large, ugly dog with a terrifying bark, and the neighborhood cats used to get a kick out of tormenting it, sashaying back and forth inches away from it. I feel mean now, just remembering how much fun I had watching that.

Jaye -- Just what I kept repeating myself, in a mournful voice, like Gollum lamenting his loss of the Ring.

Adrienne -- Yuck! I can't imagine a group of neighborhood volunteers getting together to deal with coyote poop cleaning. But really, the dog owners shouldn't add to the problem.

Last year, I was out walking and saw a woman I know pause so that her dog could take an ENORMOUS dump in the street -- and she just walked off and left it. We live in a small town where everybody knows everybody else. I can't get over her lack of concern.

Kim Ayres said...

All my life, I've had people tell me they saw me walking along the street at whatever time, and thought I looked depressed, with my head down in sadness, unable to face the world.

The reality is I'm only ever trying to make sure I don't step in yet another pile of dogshite

Anonymous said...

Younger Son lost his wallet during his first week at Lancaster U. in England. After two transatlantic phone calls and me cancelling his credit and debit cards, he ran into a student in his collge dining room who asked him if he'd found it - he'd left it behind at the grocery! And everything was there.

On top of all the kind people who helped him make change on the bus from the airport to the train, he left with a very positive impression of the people in the UK.

He did not mention the lack of dog clean-up laws. I am very, very glad I live in a municipality where clean-up is the norm.

Marcia said...

Oh my, I've suffered through the shoe thing, though I must say I was walking on a private lawn at the time. I've heard that Paris is the worst. But better to be known as honest. :)

Pat said...

Is there anything more galling.
We have a cat -at least it doesn't belong to us but regularly poos in our drive and in the gravel it is very difficult to spot.
Having rushed out to give the birds some fat balls I walked through a poo and am ashamed to say my best walking boots were left outside for a week before I could face cleaning them.

Murr Brewster said...

I was so upset when the mail-carrier uniform manufacturers quit selling smooth-soled shoes. "But the waffle soles are safer," they said. They weren't walking where I was walking.