Last night, just before bed, Brady and I went outside for his last potty break of the day. I hooked his leash to his collar, opened the door, and we stepped outside.
I hoped, just at the edge of consciousness, that we wouldn’t meet any of the loose dogs that roam the alley next to our condo building. Brady can’t stand it when he’s on-leash, and another dog isn’t. Without fail, he lunges toward the dog, barking loudly, his hackles raised in a long ridge from his collar to halfway down his back. We’ve tried and tried to train this out of him, and either we’re not good enough trainers, or it’s something we can’t erase from his brain, some fundamental sense of injustice, some doggie rule of fairness being broken.
The coast was clear, and we continued around the building to where I had parked our Subaru. I noticed a blue Tundra pick-up parked next to the Subaru, half on the pavement, half on the lawn. Parked where there was clearly no parking space, despite the fact that there was a free spot on the other side of my car.
Now why would someone do that, I wondered. Probably drunk, I thought (and if you saw our police blotter, it would be your first thought, too).
But then it occurred to me that maybe I had parked in the Tundra’s assigned spot.
Each of the condos in our buildings come with an assigned garage spot, and an assigned outdoor spot.
Liesl parks her Tacoma in the garage, and I park the Subaru outside. When we first moved here, I carefully parked in our assigned outdoor space. It was across the lot, about as far as possible from the only door accessible to Liesl, but it was summer, and it didn’t matter then.
But when winter came, the plow buried our assigned spot under a massive snow pile. The parking lot became a rutted, slippery expanse of ice and gravel. It was easier for Liesl, and for me when bringing in groceries, to park closer to the other end of the building. Besides, by then we’d lived there for long enough to have noticed that very few of our condo association neighbors followed the rules—about parking, or anything else.
I wondered, as I thought about the possibly angry Tacoma, why the association bothered to assign outdoor parking. Obviously, the snow-clearing plan depended on some of us not using our outdoor spaces. Even now, on May 21, there’s still snow piled in our spot. Why make a rule we would be forced to break?
And I thought about the municipality’s loose dog ordinances. Why have a law about loose dogs, and no intention to enforce it?
I thought about how angry I feel when I’m trying to follow the rules, and no one else cares. I thought about I’ve started flouting the rules myself, as a way of coping with my anger.
And so I came inside and wrote this Facebook status:
An ignored and unenforced rule is corrosive to a community’s sense of order and fairness.
Better not to have the rule.
Thoughts on assigned parking spaces and loose dogs, among other things.