Dog Signage

German Village is dog territory.  It seems like 90 percent of the residents here have dogs, and whenever you go out for a walk, you’re likely to encounter every variety of canine, every form of terrier and shepherd and retriever, from mutt to pure-bred, out strolling our brick-lined streets.

And you’re also likely to encounter signs warning dogs and their owners to avoid answering the call of nature in the yards and flower beds of the non-dog owners among us.  Some signs are more polite than others, some use “please” and some just say “No!,” but the message is ultimately the same.

What, exactly, is the purpose of those signs?  If it is to encourage dog owners to be responsible in performing their poop scoop obligations, the signs seem . . . unnecessary.  Most dog owners accept the need to stoop and scoop as part of the price that must be paid for having a four-legged friend in the house.  And f a dog owner is inclined to ignore his/her general obligations in a civilized society, a mere sign doesn’t seem likely to change their approach.  So I’ve concluded that the signs really are just another example of the prevalent NIMBY phenomenon at work.  The people with signs know the dogs are going to do what dogs do — which is to produce dog doo — and what they really want is for dog owners to yank their canine friends away from the sign owner’s property so that they find their target in the neighbor’s patch of ground instead.

The signers are really saying that their property deserves special treatment.  It’s not a very neighborly thing to do, when you think about it.

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The Perils Of “Dutch Uncle” Advice

A “Dutch uncle” is somebody who doesn’t sugarcoat things.  When you get “Dutch uncle” advice, you’re getting a firm expression of a person’s unvarnished, straight-from-the-shoulder views of what you should, and shouldn’t, do.

dutch-uncle-image-of-a-stern-uncleConsequently, true “Dutch uncle” advice is often unwelcome.  Some people don’t want a “Dutch uncle” telling them what to do — they want somebody to give them a sympathetic hug and a piece of chocolate and tell them they’ve just had some bad luck and things are bound to turn out for the better, eventually.  Rather than hearing from the “Dutch uncle,” they’d rather hear from, say, the “hippie aunt.”

JP Morgan Chase learned this recently when it gave some classic “Dutch uncle” advice on its Twitter feed.  The bank evidently offers a weekly “#MondayMotivation” tweet, and one of the recent tweets was framed as a conversation where the customer asks “Why is my balance so low?” and the customer’s bank account responds:  “make coffee at home…eat the food that’s already in the fridge…you don’t need a cab, it’s only three blocks.”  In short, if you want to have more money in your bank account, pay attention to what you’re spending your money on and consider whether you really need to buy that caramel-drizzled frappacino latte grande every day.

Not surprisingly, JP Morgan Chase’s “Dutch uncle” advice was met with a hail of dead cats.  Some elected officials responded that JP Morgan Chase should pay its workers more, and argued that the problem isn’t frivolous spending, it’s what workers are making in the first place.  Other people argued that it isn’t about individual personal responsibility, it’s about the “hollowing out of the middle class,” and that Chase’s unwanted advice shows “stunning tone-deafness about the economic realities facing ordinary Americans” — even though the economy seems to be doing pretty well right now.   Others used the tweet as a chance to point out that Chase charges its customers high fees, and that Chase got a bailout from taxpayers during the Great Recession because of its own financial misadventures.  Only a few people rose to the defense of Chase’s advice, and Chase deleted the tweet after a few hours.

These days, apparently, nobody wants to hear that they have some degree of control over their own lives, or that their personal decisions may have produced their current predicament, because it’s easier to just blame somebody or something else.  Politicians are happy to promote the notion of helpless victimhood, because it promotes the perception that only political leaders can actually create change that affect the lives of individual Americans.

In our current culture, “Dutch uncles” aren’t welcome.  Say hello to the hippie aunt.