Opinion

Stepping into it, and cleaning up afterwards

This summertime column comes with a warning to the faint of heart. It may contain some immature subject matter that is offensive to some readers. It does, however, concern a subject that has at one time affected each one of us. Today I discuss how our attitudes have changed over the years.

The inspiration came on a recent summer morning when I was stopped at a red light. Two young boys were running along the shoulder of the road and one had a dog on a leash. Suddenly the dog stopped to do what dogs do when being exercised and one of the boys called, “Dylan, wait, I have to pick up the poop.” He took the bag out of his pocket and as he has been taught, cleaned up the mess and they were on their way.

Now to all of you of my age, think about us young boys running across the field to play scrub or heading for the fishing hole and suddenly one of the group yells, “Hey guys wait, Patches just pooped and I have to pick it up.” Can you even begin to imagine what he would have heard from the rest of the gang?

I really don’t know what happened to all of the dog poop of my youth, knowing it never got picked up. As a matter of fact, it was quite often a source of entertainment. “Hey guys, Larry just stepped in dog poop, way to go Larry.” For the rest of the day or even longer he would be ‘Dog Poop Larry,” and probably stayed that way until Ricky caught his pant leg in the bike chain, and then we could make fun of him.

Of course there were the unexpected discoveries. Picture a warm spring morning in class and we have just sung O Canada and recited the Lord’s Prayer. Kids start sniffing and giggling and when the teacher asks what is wrong she hears, “Miss Smith, someone stepped in dog poop and it really stinks.” Then Miss Smith would have everyone check the bottoms of their shoes and eventually the source of the odour would be uncovered.

The offender would be sent from the class to clean it off. For the girls this was not really a problem, as penny loafers or saddle shoes were smooth and easy to clean. But every boy learns at eight years old that you cannot clean dog poop from the sole of a sneaker.

Even NASA has not developed a tool that will clean all the little squiggles and designs. Small sticks or paper towels available in school washrooms were never effective and if the janitor caught you running your shoe under the tap, there was hell to pay.

I’m sure today our schools have procedures in place so that a student’s self-esteem is not damaged. No doubt every teacher’s handbook has Section 4A — A policy and procedure for removing canine excrement from adolescent footwear while maintaining the student’s dignity.

The running shoes finally got completely cleaned that evening when, after everyone was in bed, Mom could smell something amiss and using elbow grease and a Magic Mom Brush, the shoe was thoroughly cleaned and saved for another run through the park.

We all step in some kind of mess from time to time. Learning how to clean it up ourselves is the important part of the lesson. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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