If it's a story about me, then I'll say so up front.

This is a blog about Truth, Justice and the American Way. The stories are true. No names have been changed to protect anyone's identity, including my own. If the story is about me, then I'll say so right up front. If I don't use a name to identify whom the story is about, then it's because it's not relevant. So please do not call me or e-mail me with your kind condolences or unwarranted congratulations about something that you believe is a cleverly disguised bio from my alter ego. These stories, like my photo, are unretouched.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Clean Up Your Own Mess!

Note: Is this a business story? You bet it is. Dog poop and business practices have more in common than any of us want to admit.

Let me tell you about my dog poop story. When I was a kid I had a Cocker Spaniel named Skippy. OK, actually I had three dogs in succession – all Cocker Spaniels, all named Skippy. Perhaps it was through my various “Skippys*” that I learned that husbands are much like dogs – if one runs away or is hit by a car you can always get another. Just keep giving them the same name and move on with your life. But I digress…..

I loved those dogs. My parents were trying to teach me responsibility (they were always trying to teach me something – the key word there was “trying”). Anyway, we had a fenced-in yard and we would let Skippy-du-jour out the back door to do his business. It was my job to pick up the poop in the yard because, supposedly, Skippy was my dog. Never mind the fact that my father chose the dogs and purposely picked a duck-hunting breed as my own personal pet-of-choice. Nonetheless, my dog – my responsibility.

One year I got a bit lax about the dog poop and I learned a valuable lesson that has served as a personal parable for life. Here’s what I learned:

If you, or in this case – your dog(s), make a boo-boo in the yard, it helps to clean it up right away. You can try to ignore it but chances are somebody will step in it and track it through the house and there will be BIG TROUBLE. Or if you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) you will be able to continue to pretend it never happened and it will just lie there endlessly with the sun's rays pouring down, heating things up until the whole backyard smells to the high heaven. Keep ignoring it and eventually winter frost will come and the snow will cover it up. By then you will have conveniently forgotten that it ever existed in the first place. Happy, blissful snowy winter!

Alas, Spring inevitably arrives and with it, the thaw. The dog poop has, regrettably, not disappeared during the winter as you had hoped; it was just covered up. But now it reappears with the crocus and, guess what? You still have to clean it up. Only now it’s all soggy and mushy and it falls apart when you try to lift it. Now it’s twenty times harder to get rid of and more likely to leave behind residue. BTW, if you think that dog poop loses its odor by being frozen you are sadly mistaken. I am saying this from experience. You can Fabreze the crap out of it (little pun there!) but it will take a long time before the vague scent of eau du dogie leaves the air.

I have never forgotten the dog poop story of my youth. We all have messes that we have to clean up in life. Some of them are of our own making, some are accidents and some are messes that others made but become our responsibility to handle. No matter how the mess started or with whom, it’s always better to go right out and clean it up immediately. It may be an unpleasant task, but the longer it lies festering in the hot sun, the more unpleasant it will be to get rid of in the end.

Even when we are trying to do the right thing all of the time, it sometimes seems as though cleaning up our own messes is a full time job. How can someone with such good intentions unintentionally step on so many people’s toes? I am not perfect, but I try to do my best. My attitude is:

1. Recognize your mistakes and own up to them;

2. Clean up your own messes without being asked; and

3. Don’t go away mad. But do go away.

Are we having fun yet?

*Is the plural of Skippy, Skippys? Or Skippies? I struggled with this.