I was recently walking my dog and when I felt something under my shoe. It was that unmistakable feeling immediately followed by the standard statement – “Did I just step in s##t?”. I confirm the truth and then begin the scraping process. As an avid dog enthusiast, I am of course annoyed that someone did not pick up after their dog. Perhaps someone happened to forget their doggie bags when they left the house. Perhaps they did not realize their dog took a nature break. Or perhaps they simply did not care.
My second instinct after the incident was to question my lack of awareness. I pride myself on being aware of my surroundings. How did I not see the poop in the middle of the sidewalk? That should have been the main thing I was thinking about while walking. What if the dog poop would have been a pot hole or something that could have got me hurt? It should be my responsibility for assessing the threat and avoiding it – right?
I started thinking about that McDonald’s lawsuit where the woman spilled coffee on herself and won a fantastic suit. I trust this is not simply an urban legend, as I never actually researched the specifics. Either way, there are numerous documented cases of bad things happening – whether it be just bad luck or bad decisions. At what point do we stop looking for someone to blame and just accept that life happens? As well, at what point do we let the blame fall on the ‘victim’? When a barista hands me my coffee, I always check the lid before drinking. I learned this lesson when I was 8 and had kool-aid splattered on my shirt.
The question I have been asking myself is my messy shoe a product of me not paying attention or someone not practicing basic dog etiquette. I am not naive and know that common sense and common decency or anything ‘common’ is rarely common at all. Now the question becomes a matter of paradigm – perhaps I should have expected to find the dog poop on the sidewalk.
In the business world, we can insert any number of challenges in the place of the dog poop. It is no wonder that we have disconnects with our customers, our vendors, our employees. We live in a world of variable expectations, baselines and opinions. On all of that, sometimes life just happens despite the best of intentions. I still believe that we can cut through the semantics and pointless debates on who is to blame. Somethings are just universally fundamental – be good to others, be responsible for yourself, and pick up your s##t.
Everything I learned I learned in kindergarten…