I recently professed my love for my new home of London. But even the city of your dreams will have its shortcomings, and London has one filthy habit I can no longer ignore. Every time I pretend not to notice it, the sh*t hits the fan. Or rather the shoe.
You see - and I say this with the utmost respect - London is full of sh*t. Dog sh*t, to be precise.
Since moving here four months ago, I've taken on the unfortunate role of Dog-Doo Detector for my family. Forget the pretty spring flowers blooming, or the gorgeous old building I'm passing (what does that blue plate on the wall say?) I've got to keep my eyes focused on the ground, peeled for poop.
I walk my kids five blocks to school each day, and I am not exaggerating when I say that every single day we find new stools to sidestep. Every day, at least one piece of sh*t leaves a piece of sh*t on the sidewalk.
At first I thought it was just my neighborhood, but the more of London I see, the more crap I almost step in. Every time I walk down the street I feel like I'm playing a game of fecal Frogger.
Forget "minding the gap" at the tube platform, this city is a minefield of manure.
Apparently, Londoners have an aversion to picking up after their dogs' doo. I don't know if it's because the English are so proper that they perceive poop-scooping to be beneath them, or if it's evidence that we are living in a nanny-state where people know the city sidewalk cleaners will eventually pick up Fido's filth for them. Or maybe it's because they're tired of all the crap they have to clean at home due to the inexplicable design of British toilets (don't get me started - let's just say I've never used a toilet brush so often in my life before).
Whatever the cause, the result is clear: there is a feces crisis in London.
I'm not the only one who has noticed this turd trouble. Every day I pass several of these lovely signs:
As if it's not bad enough having to stare at dozens of droppings on the sidewalk, I am also confronted with this grotesquely graphic image at eye-level. There is sh*t everywhere I look.
[As an aside, I have to ask: why the staged photograph on the sign? Why not a cartoon silhouette of a dog doing his business with a line across it like we do in America? Perhaps for the same reason Brits say "toilet" instead of "restroom" - when it comes to nature's calling, they want to be abundantly clear, leaving no room for confusion by using as much vivid imagery as possible. And I thought we Americans were supposed to be the vulgar ones.]
Now, I'll grant that some of the turds on the sidewalk might come from foxes, which run rampant in London. But if it's fox poop, then how do you explain this?
Actually, how do you explain this? I see these bags o'crap on the sidewalk everywhere. Today I counted over 20 along a mere 2-block stretch leaving the dog haven Primrose Hill, and there's always at least one no-good sack of sh*t on my block. Did somebody actually go to the effort of picking up that warm, soft stool and tying up the bag, only to decide that they just couldn't be bothered with disposing of the bag? Come on, you did the hard part, I know it's gross to carry that smelly bag, but there's a bin on the corner. I know you can do it.
It's easy, look! Here I am properly disposing of my dog's dung while taking a picture of myself at the same time! Sorry for the sh*tty selfie, it was really bright out and my hands were literally full of crap.
They even have dedicated "Royal" dog waste bins in the parks here. In case it's not clear, that's where you're supposed to put your royal, stinking sh*t.
But you don't even need to find a dedicated bin, as the sign on my street says, any bin will do (but maybe people don't read those signs as they are trying to avert their eyes from that dog collar smooshed into a huge, soft pile of crap?).
Why? Why bother bagging it if you're just leaving it for someone else to deal with anyway?
I'm guessing the offenders actually plan to leave the doo on the sidewalk, but they notice a Dog-Doo Vigilante like me staring them down, so they reluctantly pull out the bag, and slowly scoop the poop, making it appear as though they are actually being responsible pet owners. But as soon as the poop patroller is satisfied and walks on, the perpetrator (or should I say "poopetrator") tosses the bag on the sidewalk. Or if they're trying to be really stealth, they leave it at the base of a tree:
See that black bag hidden there? Peek-a-poo, I see you!
I find the tied-up turd more offensive than the deserted doo. I mean, people who simply leave the crap behind could at least pretend they didn't see their dog do it (the lying pieces of sh*t) or that they didn't have any bags on them (stupid bags of sh*t), but these turd-tossers are basically saying, "Yes, I know my dog pooped, I even came prepared, but I'm going to leave it here just to prove to you that I don't give a sh*t. Or actually, I do give a shit: here you go, I'm even gift-wrapping it." Spineless sh*t-slingers.
Now, before my British friends get their knickers in a soiled knot, I must acknowledge that I've stepped in dog doo in the US before and it is a problem there too (though the sh*tbag on the sidewalk phenomenon is new to me). I'm probably noticing droppings more now because I'm walking so much more than I did when I lived in the States and owned a car. Perhaps there's a global poopademic going on here.
So, to the Poopetrators of the World, I have this to say to you:
Enough of this sh*t. Do your duty, and pick up the doodie! I can't put up with this crap any longer.
Let's be clear: nobody likes cleaning up someone else's excrement, let alone feces from another species. I get it, I have a dog and I am still grossed out picking up his piles. But I still do it. I pick up the poo because I'm not a disgusting human being and I respect other people.
It's quite simple: if you own a pooch, you own the poo. If you are a dog-walker, you are getting paid to do the sh*t someone else doesn't want to do, so do your job. Are we clear? Because the bottom of my new trainers aren't.
Perhaps people need to change their perspective; rather than thinking of it as degrading or disgusting to shovel sh*t, we should think of it as empowering.
Just remember the immortal lines from Austin Powers:
"Who does #2 work for?"
"Yeah that's right Buddy, you show that turd who's boss."
Now pick up that sh*t. Like a BOSS.