My answer: I notice when others break the rule.
In general, I do my best to be a respectful member of society. Yes, I occasionally break a rule. I walk where I’m not supposed to; I sometimes drive faster than I should. I’ve let my dog off-leash on a field and on trails that were not off-leash.
Which is why I didn’t say anything the other day when I tried to enjoy a picnic lunch at a local park.
Numerous signs at the park warn that dogs are to be leashed at all times. People are encouraged to call the posted phone number if off-leash dogs are around.
I’ve had two other picnics at this same park and seen unleashed dogs both times, their owners breaking the rule. However, the dogs were well-trained and kept their distance.
But this time, we had no sooner spread out our blanket and sat down, than a dog dashed into our midst and stole my grandson’s burrito.
The dog was leashed (does that count?) but the leash was dragging behind it. The owner apologized profusely and paid for the burrito. But now, my grandson had no lunch.
Still, I didn’t call the number to report the rule breaker. I didn’t want to be one of “those” people. I didn’t want to be a tattle tale, a spoil sport.
Then, another dog took a bite from the cookie my granddaughter was holding. This owner, this rule breaker, didn’t apologize. She was too busy swearing and trying to catch her dog. I talked (loudly) about calling the number and reporting her, but I didn’t.
I understand that rules are made so we can all live peacefully in a safe society. I also know none of us is perfect. Sometimes, we break the rule.
In hindsight, I wish I had called the number. I wish I had not erred on the side of leniency or listened to the voice inside me that shamed me into silence.
What would you have done?