Keep the Bag

About a year ago my wife and I were enjoying an impromptu picnic of deli sandwiches while watching the evening walkers stroll by in Central Park. Nothing particularly spectacular passed by our bench as we quietly consumed our dinner and enjoyed the mild weather. Every so often a dog would give us a curious glance to see if there was any chance of getting a treat. As veterans of urban picnicking we knew this was all part of the ritual. That is until a canine, of a breed I don't remember, took a dump one foot from my shoe.

In horror the owner tried to drag the dog away mid-poop (which only made matters worse). After a good minute of work on the dog's part, an awkward silence held the air. I guess during that time the owner had a similar swell of thoughts as I did about how to get expediently away from this spot. But one look at our plastic shopping bag gave her an idea.

She requested and we graciously gave her the sack. With her pooch anxious to move on she tried to orchestrate a classic dog waste encapsulation and removal. I'm not sure if it was her hurry or nerves that fouled her technique, but she ended up smearing as much turd on the pavement as she picked up. More anxiety and ultimately a hearty apology followed as well as her exit.

With 18 inches of ground in poop next to my shoe, we decided to eat the rest of our sandwiches at a different park bench.

Alice, Jul 12 2006 11:03AM

Hi Mark,

There seems to be a scatalogical theme, between shots of privvies, Target bags about litter liners and dog do, and now this. Not that I'm opposed. In fact, I wholeheartedly support the idea of a Gutsy theme issue related to that which brings all of humanity together in one common act.

What I really wanted to say is that this story got me talking with a colleague about a yet unidentified person (or persons?) who was going around the university at which I work, presumably in the dead hours of the night, crapping in elevators and hallways in the History Department. This person didn't seem to have a clear motive or individual target, in that he/she didn't tend to crap outside of any single office. By that, I mean the craps were left somewhat randomly, the only notable pattern being that they were left in places of heavy foot traffic, suggesting that the perpetrator had a somewhat malicious intent to destroy poeple's shoes or cause extreme olfactory discomfort in the closed spaces of elevators.

In any case, the perpetrator became known as the *shit bandit*, and rewards were posted to secure the capture of this nefarious individual. While I have vague suspicions that the Chair of the History Department was responsible, I will never know for sure. No one ever came forward, and campus security never developed a lead, even in this age of DNA testing (perhaps beyond the college's very limited budget).

My question, based on your story and this one, is what possible penal sactions can the authorities designated to serve and protect bring against people wantonly leaving crap in public and/or well-trafficked corridors. OK, not that you'd press charges against this woman (I think I would have been laughing too hard at this scene to act, even if it had been my shoe...if the shoe wasn't a sandal), but really, what could have been done about the *shit bandit*? Would the so-called bandit's actions constitute vandalism, if no property was destroyed, or at least if a simple cleaning agent could have removed the unsightly matter from the floor? Indecent exposure seems out of the question, since the defacation generally took place in the darkest hours of night...and of the soul, I suppose.

The only crime that seems appropriate is *creating a public nuisance,* that catch-all charge that allows police to deal with those unclassifiable but ultimately disturbing acts that most upstanding citizens can agree *aren't quite right*, the sort of thing that would make any witness say, *there ain't somethin' right about that there fella.* So many questions, so many legal quandries. Any insights from any members of the legal profession would be welcome...only to satisfy a strange curiosity, not to meet any pressing legal need. Really, I didn't do it.

mark, Jul 17 2006 10:26AM

if it isn't a crime yet, aliice, it should be. brazen deposit of a poop-like object is no joke unless left flaming.

your story also reminds me of perhaps the best (american) the office episode to date in which the boss finds a maliciously placed object in the middle of his office floor

Pete, Jul 19 2006 9:37AM

Great poop story.