On The Leash

I suspect that our weekend morning walks around Schiller Park are a bit less enjoyable for Betty. 

On our weekday morning walks, which typically occur at around 6 a.m., there are, at most, one or two other dogs that we encounter, and often we see no other dogs at all. 

On our weekend morning walks, on the other hand, we walk a bit later, and usually there are lots of other dogs out — some walking, some playing fetch with their human pals, and some frolicking with other dogs.  Betty is always alert to the dogs that are running free, and I sometimes entertain the notion of letting her off the leash to roam a bit.  She’s not specifically trained for that, however, and I just don’t want to take the chance that she’s going to run off and get into some kind of trouble.  So I keep the leash on, and we walk forward instead.

The weekend walks get tougher when, as happened this morning, some thoughtless person lets an untrained dog loose and the dog charges up to every other dog in the park — including Betty.  It’s unnerving to have a canine of unknown provenance run up to you and your dog with uncertain intentions.  Most dogs are friendly and just want to do the sniff routine, but there have been incidents at Schiller Park where dogs have attacked each other and done some serious damage, to the horror of owners and bystanders.  That’s why the park has a policy that, if you can’t exercise immediate control over your dog by verbal commands, you need to keep the dog on a leash . . . period.  Since there aren’t a lot of verbal command dogs, that means most dogs should be kept on a leash.

But, what’s the social protocol for what to do when some irresponsible person ignores that common-sense rule?  In today’s encounter, the owner of the roaming dog was some older woman who didn’t seem at all troubled by her failure to follow the rules and the fact that her dog was misbehaving and racing up to every other dog in the park.  Should the leashed dog owner say something, or is that crossing an improper line?  I have no desire to lecture people on following the rules, but how else are the rules going to have an impact?

It makes me wish that some dog owners could be put on a leash, too. 

Creamer Bias

When I was on the road recently, I got up very early, as usual, fixed myself a cup of coffee on the in-room coffee machine, and was immediately subjected to a little noticed form of discrimination:  creamer bias.

Creamer bias afflicts those of us who like cream in our coffee.  The hotel chains that have in-room coffee makers typically will provide little cellophane-wrapped packets of coffee-related items, with sugar, creamer, a coffee stir straw, and a tiny napkin.  And that’s where the bias comes in. 

The coffee service packets inevitably include plenty of sugar options.  There are always at least two sugar packets, plus multiple faux sugar “sweetener” alternatives.  The coffee packet at the New York City hotel I stayed at recently, pictured above, included no fewer than six sugar-related items:  two “sugar in the raw,” two standard sugar, and two sweetener packets.  That’s six packets to satisfy the coffee sweet tooth.  Six!  Really?  You could bake a cake with that much sugar! 

And yet, in studied contrast, the coffee packet included one measly pouch of artificial creamer.  You can’t even get halfway to pleasant cafe au lait territory with that meager offering.  That’s a 6-1 ratio in favor of the sugarholics over the creamer crowd.

And have you ever thought about what happens to all of the unused packets of coffee items when you tear open the cellophane and use whatever suits your taste?  Unless you are using it all, there are bound to be multiple packs left over.  What happens to them?  Are they recycled somehow, or does the cleaning service just sweep them into the trash?

Hotels are changing what they are doing to be more environmentally sensitive, which I applaud.  I think it is high time that the sensitivity process move beyond shampoo delivery systems to the in-room coffee service.  I say it’s time to ditch the cellophane wrappers, can the stirrers that people can do without, eliminate the skimpy napkin, and offer creamer and sugar in packets that are kept in a decorative container next to the coffee maker.  And while they’re at it, how about evening up the creamer and sugar offerings to finally address the rampant creamer bias — or at least dialing the bias back from a 6-1 to a 2-1 ratio?