By Joe Rector

Going out in public is good for me. My wife has told me for years. She implores me to venture out past the boundaries of Ball Camp to see what’s on the other side of life. I do so on occasion, but after those trips, I wind up wondering what I was doing by leaving the confines of my home.

I’d like to know when it became all right for folks to take their dogs with them to any and every public area. Don’t get me wrong; I am a dog lover. Sadie is as close to family as a pet can get. Still, I don’t load her up for trips to most places. Too many people allow their dogs to tag along with them to malls and other stores. On more than one occasion, a canine has slipped up behind me and checked out my personality with an all too familiar sniff. Such surprising things caused me to jump and spin around ready to fight.

Others take their pets to sporting events. They bring them in stadiums and then allow them to walk around off leash. I’m usually ready to offer a pat to a pooch, but not when I’m watching a ball game. The last thing I want is to miss a key play because a dog needs some attention. Some pet chaperones allow animals to “do their business” but fail to clean the messes up. That can lead to someone wearing some dog offerings home on the soles of their shoes.

Along the same lines, I wonder how it is good parenting to turn a small child loose in public areas. I like young’uns, but like some people don’t care for dogs, others aren’t overly fond of “rug rats.” I lose patience when small folks run roughshod through seating areas. Especially bothersome is a small, dirty hand grabbing hold of mine. Too, no adult can abide having a strange child come up and begin touching personal belongings. Neither do grown-ups want to spend time answering a storm of questions from a small child.

While we’re at it, can someone explain to me the reasoning for someone taking up two spaces in a parking lot? Recently, I attended an event at a high school. Because the county middle schools were also holding a track meet at the same time, parking was at a premium. I searched for a space and eventually found one. However, when I pulled up to it, I discovered that the driver had parked his giant SUV so that the tires on the right side were positioned in the adjacent space. No one could pull in unless he were driving something as small as an electric car. Another person parked across two spaces in an effort to protect his shiny vehicle. Other angry patrons might have felt justified if they’d have walked close to those vehicles with keys in hand. One frustrated driver couldn’t find a space and decided to park his car on the edge of the sidewalk directly behind the baseball field backstop. When a foul ball zeroed in on the top of the BMW and, no doubt, dented it, folks shook their heads and made comments about karma.

Yes, Amy is right that I should get out more. However, I’m not sure that doing so is that healthy. By the time I arrive home, my nerves are rattled, my patience is shot, and something on the bottom of my shoe is sticking like Velcro. Public places can tests even the savviest social creature.