Dear woman on the beach
I doubt you will ever read this, but writing it down helps me to focus my thinking.
On Saturday morning, you were walking along the beach on the North Wales coast with your dog, when you met my dad who was also out for a walk, with our family Labradoodle.
My dad has some health problems and our energetic, lively pooch is his daily ‘medicine’, nudging him to get out daily for a good-for-your-health kind of walk.
The dog, despite his enormous size, is still technically a puppy, mischievous and cheeky, loves to swim and have a friendly chase with any other pooch he claps eyes on. And if you’re not in good health, a ‘self-exercising’ dog who tires himself out running round in circles, is the best kind. Most pet owners are only too glad to let their dogs chase each other too – it usually results in pooches who snooze for the rest of the afternoon in a happy, steamy, exhausted pile.
You, however were different. As our dog playfully danced around yours, you stood and watched momentarily before walking off, our dog following after you. My dad shouted after you, ‘please could you wait while I catch up?’
‘I don’t have TIME for this!’ you yelled back.
‘Can you just give me one minute. I need to catch up and get him on the lead’.
‘That’s not my problem,’ you said.
‘I have health problems’ said my dad…hoping you would understand that he just needed one minute of your time.
‘You shouldn’t HAVE a dog like that if you can’t keep up with it,’ you shouted before continuing to walk off.
Thankfully, our dog then saw sense and returned to my dad’s side, while you, perhaps feeling justified in your actions, continued on to wherever you were going.
My dad returned home later, doing fine but obviously rattled by this encounter with someone who showed such little compassion and empathy.
As a protective child, my instinct (however silly) was to rush out to the beach, find you and let you know just how mean and nasty I thought you were. But even on the off chance I did find you, I doubt it would have done any good. Anger rarely fixes problems – it usually just makes them worse.
And so Woman-on-the-beach-at-Penryhn-Bay, as much as I’d like to give you a piece of mind, I’ll instead do my best to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Perhaps you really were too busy. Perhaps you had a sick child or a sick partner at home. Perhaps you were ill yourself. Perhaps there was a truly grave and terrible situation facing you and your family. Or maybe you were just plain old mean? Perhaps you later felt remorse for your unkindness?
Whoever you are, wherever you are today, may you never have to face the daily pain of a chronic health condition. May you always be able to run full speed after your dog. May it be that one day when you need help, that others will give you just one minute, to catch up, get your breath.
I realise you probably won’t ever read this, but perhaps it’ll prompt others to be aware of the people around them. There is nothing in life that could be so important, so pressing, that it’s worth ignoring another human being in need.
If you’re too busy to be kind, then you’re simply too busy.