Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Penalty of Kindness

So, yesterday, I blogged about feeling slightly guilty for not mowing Mr. Enormous Trousers’ yard for him and I mentioned that I tend to get taken advantage of for being nice.

I think if I’m going to put that out on the blogosphere, I really should stick by my decision to stop being quite so nice because, well, it happened again last night.

You see, when I got home from work yesterday, I noticed two things. One, Son of Dog Whisperer was running around in the street in front of his house clad only in a pair of swimming trunks and two) he’d set up a lemonade stand with two of his friends from down the street.

The swimming trunks thing wasn’t terribly surprising because it was hot although since there’s no pool too close by and he doesn’t have a hose in his garden, it seemed like an interesting choice of attire but I attributed it to the fact that it was hot. Also, I’d much rather have Son of Dog Whisperer running around without a shirt than Dog Whisperer himself because, well, let’s just say that Dog Whisperer doesn’t exactly have the sort of naked chest you want to see, well, naked.

The lemonade stand was something different. Son of Dog Whisperer had taken his little table and chair from inside the house and set it up outside with a Tupperware pitcher full of lemonade.

Normally, I walk the dogs when I get home but since it’s been so hot, muggy and sticky outside, I was already contemplating not walking them. Rory has taken to just sitting down in protest when she’s hot and she gets extremely irritated when I make her keep walking. Sookie, meanwhile just looks at me with a sulk in her eye and her tongue hanging out in panting protest. Then, when we get home, she spends the rest of the evening sprawling out in various positions on the cool piece of linoleum that’s in my entranceway just to show me she is, in fact, hot.

The trouble is, the dogs think they want to walk so when I don’t walk them, they have this habit of both sitting there at our regular sojourn time and looking at me as though to say , “are we going walking or what?” Every move I make is watched and it just takes one step for them to run to the front door, waiting for me to put their leashes on them.

Still, last night, I hadn’t planned on walking them because of the heat. Also, I’ll confess, I was a little crabby from a not-so-great day at work and wasn’t feeling very social and I knew if I went out with the dogs, I’d be accosted by Son of Dog Whisperer to buy some lemonade. This only aided my desire to not walk.

However, the dogs didn’t seem to like my plan and they went into their traditional “WHEN ARE WE WALKING????” stance. Also, I started to feel a little like the neighbourhood Scrooge. I mean, the kid was just trying to have a little business, right? That sort of enterprising behavior should be rewarded.

It’s just….well, how to say this without being mean….the kid is a little…odd. He often walks up to me, says something random and runs off. However, lately, he’s been becoming a little friendlier. He gave me a signed hockey puck because he thought he might be a famous hockey player on his team. Only afterwards did I find out from Wife of Dog Whisperer, he didn’t really have a hockey team. Still, it was a sweet gesture.

Thus, I began to feel mean for not wanting to give the kid 25 cents for a cup of lemonade. Sighing, I tucked a dollar bill and some quarters into my jeans pocket and then got the dogs ready for walking.

Sure enough, as soon as I stepped outside, I was accosted. “WannabuysomeLEMONADE???” the kids yelled at me. Son of Dog Whisperer’s friends live down the street and the little girl, who is about six, is a little too aggressive in trying to pet the dogs when we see her. She runs up to them “CUTEDOGGGIEEEEE” she yells as she simultaneously tries to grab them. The pups, of course, skitter away in alarm at this little human who doesn’t seem to understand that the dogs might not want to be grabbed. Her brother is a little less affectionate with the dogs. I think they might even be twins because they look about the same age.

Anyway, combined with Son of Dog Whisperer’s enthusiasm, the lemonade stand was definitely not deprived of hawkers. I promised the kids I’d get a cup when I came back around the block with the dogs.

It took a wee bit longer than planned because we ran into Larry the Potential Serial Killer. He was mowing his lawn and was very sweaty but it didn’t stop him from coming over for one of his a-little-too-up-close-and-personal chats.

By the time we escaped, we looped back around the block and I saw Son of Dog Whisperer running in someone’s yard, clearly scouting the territory for me to reappear. As I said, he’s a nice boy but he doesn’t have many senses of boundaries and has no qualms about walking through anyone’s yard, including mine. I don’t say anything because I don’t want to be one of those “GET OFF MY LAWN!” cranks but I find it a little irritating.

I finally got to the lemonade stand and was told it was both 25 cents and 50 cents a glass. The kids had a bit of an argument about how much to charge me. I decided to be nice and gave them a dollar and told them to keep the change. I took my lemonade and headed inside but not before Son of Dog Whisperer ran up to me and asked “So, what have you been up to lately, [Captain Monkeypants]?” It seemed like quite a grown-up question for an eight year old to ask a neighbour but I figured he’d been learning manners so I chatted with him and then he left me to take the dogs inside.

I sipped the lemonade but, as anticipated, it was Kool Aid and was very, very sweet and I couldn’t drink it. I decided to start making dinner so I was just getting my vegetables ready to chop when there was a thump on my door. I opened it. This may seem simple but with two dachshunds, opening the front door involves some quick maneuvering to make sure they don’t run out. Thus, I stepped outside and shut the door behind me. The little boy from down the street had gone and it was just son of Dog Whisperer and the little girl.

It seemed I’d been the winner in a drawing that Son of Dog Whisperer and his little female friend had created and I’d won both a free glass of lemonade and a Mormon pamphlet that I know for a fact and been lying in their front yard for a while during several storms. Thus, it was muddy and mottled.

Surprised, I said thanks. Then Son of Dog Whisperer said, “Fifty Cents, please.” I was surprised because usually ‘winning’ doesn’t involve paying for said prize, particularly when it’s not really wanted but at this point, I still thought it was cute and I handed over the fifty cents I had in my pocket.

With a polite “thanks”, the kids scampered off. I went back to dinner. Then, moments later, there was another thump-thump-thump on my door. They were back. This time with a half-empty can of root beer that I’d also ‘won’ in yet another drawing. This time, I didn’t have any change or dollar bills and I told them that. Dejected, they handed me the can and walked away.

Again, I went back to making dinner. Again, I was interrupted. This time, they rang the doorbell. This time, there was no pretense of my winning a prize. They just wanted money. I was a little surprised and I joked that I didn’t have any more cash since I used my debit card mostly. That was fine. The kids ‘took debit cards.’ I laughed and said, “Uh-huh, sure you do.” The kids wouldn’t let it go. They just kept on and on about me giving them money and my debit card. I finally got annoyed and said I had to go. The kids decided then to steal my cute little dog statue I have in my front yard and run off with it unless I gave them a dollar.

During this time, there was absolutely no sign of Dog Whisperer or Wife of Dog Whisperer and I was starting to get angry that not only were these kids being brats but, also, they were unsupervised brats. Finally, I went inside thinking that if I ignored them, they’d just get fed up and leave and I’d get my statue back later.

This was fine until they both decided to literally plaster themselves up against my front window doing that horrible thing that kids do and stuck their mouths on my window, sticking out their tongues and leaving my window all smeared. I was furious by this point. The dogs were going crazy and I was at the end of my patience. They kept yelling “ONE DOLLAR” and held up my dog statue. Finally, irritated beyond anything, I opened the door and gave them the dollar since nothing else was going to get rid of them. Just as I did, Dog Whisperer stepped out of his house. The kids grabbed the dollar and ran off and Dog Whisperer went inside before I could even mention what the kids had been doing.

I figured that was the end of it. I was just getting the food on the grill outside when my doorbell rang, again. This time, it was Son of Dog Whisperer by himself with some flash cards he wanted me to buy to teach my dogs to read. Fortunately, this time, Dog Whisperer was hot on his heels and I got a very sincere apology.

I suppose it was my own fault. I thought I’d be nice and give the kids the money to help teach them the value of ‘earning’ a dollar. After all, isn’t that the point of a lemonade stand? I shouldn’t have kept giving in to them. I know I should never have given them that last dollar because I was just encouraging them but since ignoring them didn’t stop them nor did it deter them, it seemed like the best option. My next step was going to be MY knocking on HIS door to talk to his parents and I had every intention of doing that.

I’m not ruling that out because I have a feeling that the kids are going to think of me as the sucker who gave them money. I am a sucker. I stupidly thought that being nice would simply be appreciated rather than seen as a ‘ooh, let’s get more money from her.” I know that they’re young but at the age of eight, I’d been taught that asking for money from anyone but my parents was unacceptable. If offered, I could take it but demanding or begging for it was a no-no.

I suppose there’s a lesson to be learned there somewhere. I’m just hoping that there aren’t any more lemonade stands cropping up in front of Dog Whisperer’s house for a while. If so, I will not be buying. In fact, I think I’ll hide in my house until it goes away which is what I should have done in the first place.

Ah well, you learn something new every day, right?

Happy Thursday!

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