I hate to sound like one of those adults who think that generations following mine are falling apart but seriously when it comes to customer service trends, I may have to raise that flag.  I’ve done my stint at being ‘behind the counter’ via numerous part-time jobs throughout high school and university – engaging the customer by being pleasant, attentive, and helpful was always a requirement and a priority.  Now I wonder if it’s even mentioned to a new hire.  Don’t get me wrong – there are some great moments with bright, engaging folk and I always feel invigorated after those encounters.  But this is a rant and a chance to say how annoying the other times are.

I often feel invisible as I enter the world of the cashier.  I am surprised if s/he mumbles hello, shocked if there is eye contact.  If there are 2 people behind the checkout counter, most often they are locked into their own conversation – important topics like what they did last night or what great event is on their radar after work.  I thought Facebook covered all that.  Sometimes for fun, I’ll try to join in the conversation just to make a point.  Mostly I just hope for a glimpse of recognition that I am there.  I can’t count the times I have waited for a clerk to stop texting in order to take my cash.  Or, standing with their back to me, the employee in the middle of a phone call glances over their shoulder with some disdain at my interruption, having to tell their pal that they will call back in a minute. That’s when I always apologize for the interruption.  Usually they don’t catch the sarcasm.  On those rare occasions when one is actually spoken to, it is often lack luster.  How are you did you find everything have a good day.

My most memorable experience was at a Safeway liquor store.  I was the only customer in the store at the time.  As I placed my 2 bottles of wine on the counter, the clerk barely looked my way.  I gave him my credit card, stood waiting for it to ring through and watched in horror as the clerk, also waiting, half sat on the counter, picked up a book and started reading it in front of me.  “What are you doing?”  “I’m reading.”  “You’re not supposed to be reading.”  “Why not?  What do you want me to do – talk to you or something?!”

Actually, yes I do.




Poo Fairies

I have a dog.  My dog pees and poos on a regular basis.  Sometimes I think, given how poor humans are to understand any non human behavior, that it is lucky for our pets that humans also pee and poo.  Otherwise we would try to beat or train the behavior out of them.  I digress.  I take my dog Annie for walks 3 or 4 times a day during which she satisfies her need to pee and poo.  Being the responsible dog guardian, I pick up her poo.  No matter what.  No matter how much there is, how runny it is, how smelly it is.  It’s a bylaw where I live and even if it weren’t I would still do it.  I have even been known to return to a spot the next day if it was too dark to find the poo that I know was dropped and left on a neighbor’s lawn.  As I care about the environment, I use biodegradable poo bags and have mastered the art of using the same bag to pick up more than one deposit.  (It’s all in the wrist.)

I could rant about how maddening it is when owners do not pick up their dog’s poo.  Of course it drives me crazy and somehow makes all dog guardians look bad.  I don’t want people to hate all dogs and the humans attached to them.  We have all had the experience of finding day old logs on the lawn or poo attached to a shoe and it ‘s funny how one never sees these poos actually happening.  They must literally come out at night to poo willy nilly.  On the rare occasion I have witnessed the transgression, I politely yell out “Excuse me.  Do you need a bag?”  This is usually met with a chagrined face and acceptance of the offer.  Sometimes however I am left to run after human and beast repeating my offer over and over.  Quite the scene.

Here’s what I really don’t get.  I constantly come across poo bags – clearly with poo in them, usually all tied up and then just left on the ground – by the side of a city path, in the middle of a park, or strangely – right beside a garbage can.  I have never seen someone doing this, just the evidence of the act.  I cannot imagine what they are thinking.  Do they think there is a poo fairy waiting to swoop down and put that bag where it belongs?  It’s as if they figured out part of the bylaw (and pure common sense) and realize they have to pick up their dog’s poo but then completely lose it and decide to leave it out in the open where someone somehow sometime will come along and finish the job.

I would really like to run into one of these idiots.

Path Poo

Poo 1

Poo 2

Toilet Etiquette

How many times have you heard a female complain about her partner and his forgetfulness or refusal to return the toilet seat to its down position when he is finished peeing? Ad nauseum.  It would seem these women think the toilet should always be ready for them and if it is not, they are hurt – sometimes angry.  I have always thought this idea was weird and wondered why most men apologize and promise promise promise to try to remember.  Why don’t men get hurt – sometimes angry – that women do not put the seat up after they are done?  To be ready for a man.  A plain case of a double standard.

And that brings me to what is really wrong – the pervasive misuse of toilets which when corrected will stop the age old argument forever.  It’s all about The Lid.

I know I speak for my plumber when I say that most people have no idea what the toilet lid is for.  I often wonder what they must think.  Perhaps they think it’s a built in stepping stool.  Or a handy chair if one is chatting to a friend while they are brushing their teeth or popping pimples.  Or a good spot to wait and scare someone coming out of the shower.  O.K. those are all useful but it is not the toilet lid’s real purpose.  Believe it or not it truly has a function and an important one.  Whether the toilet is used by a male or female, the toilet lid is supposed to be lowered into position BEFORE flushing.  Once down, it stops germs from flying all over the room.  If it is left up, these nasty little beasties escape from the bowl and land on anything within reach – and the reach is far.  Studies have found fecal matter on tooth brushes at the other side of the room.  Yuck.

Let’s stop all this bickering about the toilet seat – up down up down – and put the energy where it belongs.  The Lid.  EVERYONE should put the lid down when finished with their business.  Then flush.  Simple.  What an equalizer.  The whole toilet will function as it should and be equally ready for whoever needs it next.

(and it looks great).

(oh and btw do not use those horrible toilet lid covers.  Ugly).



Living Garbage

Life in an inner city neighbourhood has its advantages – one is that I can leave my empty bottles in the alley and they are gone in a day, picked up by various bottle guys. I have gotten to know a few over the years as not only are they always out and about, they are pretty much the only people who bother to say Good Morning anymore. This is not a RANT about them – but it does include a very special ‘bottle picker’ – Art. I met Art just the other day as I stopped to admire his organized cart and he stopped to play with my dog. We started talking about all the weird stuff he has found over the years, including a Rolex watch worth over $9,000 thrown out by a jealous husband (the cops got involved and in the end, Art got the watch) and many pairs of real gold earrings tossed in the alley by high end hookers who apparently are not looking for those kind of gifts.

Here comes the RANT: Art’s stories were all very entertaining until he told me about the animals he has rescued from the garbage, discarded by thoughtless, CRUEL humans. Puppies, cats, lizards, birds. Many. The birds were found in a dumpster behind a high end condo one night when the temperature was minus 30 Celsius. Five budgies in one cage, 2 more cages with a parrot and a cockatiel. Art grabbed all 3 cages and waved down a taxi. The taxi refused to take animals so Art waved again, this time at the police who fined the taxi driver and took away his license. Now all 7 birds call Art’s house HOME where he cares for them as they should be cared for. He jumped in a dark dumpster one rainy day and as he was searching for bottles and cans, he felt something grab onto his leg. Jumping back he let his eyes get used to the dark and there in the corner was a very frightened 3 foot lizard. Getting out of a dumpster is much more difficult than getting in and trying to take a large, scared lizard with you greatly exacerbates the situation so Art had to ponder his next move carefully. Finally, he managed to get the Iguana to grab onto his arm and whispering ‘hang on’, climbed out of the dumpster into the light and safety with the poor abandoned creature. The local humane society has gotten to know Art well over the years and many deserted, forlorn creatures owe him their lives.

Before going our separate ways, Art and I shook our heads and shared some moments of disbelief and despair that people could be so heartless towards innocent, helpless beings. Art, you can have my bottles anytime (sorry I don’t have any gold earrings).

Butt Out

2 BILLION cigarette butts hit the ground every day.  Our world has become one big ashtray and I’m pissed off.

I recently spent an hour sweeping up butts around one (yes, only one)  bench in the small park near my house – see photo.  A big smelly pile of butt garbage just a few feet away from a garbage can.  It seems most smokers do not think butts are actually garbage.  People who normally would not ‘litter’ just toss their butts out the car window or flick them on the ground.

I cringe at every film scene that uses this casual act of littering to  punctuate an emotion or segue to another scene.  It is so common to see that it now actually seems normal, o.k., harmless.  Far from true.

The city I live in finally made it illegal to smoke inside most buildings so now everyone smokes outdoors but no genius has realized it might be a good idea to have ashtrays outside for the many butts which litter the doorways, lawns, sidewalks, gutters all over the city.  People smoke outside bars, restaurants, coffee shops – I think it should be the responsibility of those businesses to provide disposals and to clean up the ground.  It’s their customers, their business.  C’mon.

Yes, I do talk to smokers when I see them throw their butt on the ground and I ask them to please ‘pick it up’.  As you can imagine sometimes that works, sometimes not.   It’s bad enough that non-smokers have to take a deep breath and run the smelly gauntlet when entering public buildings; it’s worse when we have to deal with the remains of this dirty habit.  A few times I’ve actually seen someone open their car door, dump a full ashtray on the ground and drive away.  Another proud human moment.

The butts are not only ugly and filthy – they are a huge environmental hazard.  News Flash – butts are NOT biodegradable.  NOT.  They may seem small and harmless but guess what they contain – tar, arsenic, vinyl chloride, acetone, mercury, lead, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide.  Butts can take up to 15 years to disintegrate and when they do, they release all their poisons into the ground.  Those that get into storm drains end up in our rivers, lakes, and oceans where fish mistake them for food.  Birds use them for nesting material and pets think they are treats.  All deadly mistakes.


Talk to smokers. Ask communities to provide disposals. Beg businesses to act responsibly. Sweep them up. Someone may be watching and who knows, they may get it and actually change.

End Idling

If you read my previous rant you know how upset I am at those who idle their vehicles and poison our world.  A few months ago, I was discouraged that my simple act of asking individuals to shut off their engines was not having enough impact.  My ‘new to Canada’ neighbour especially drives me crazy as he runs his diesel fuelled GMC extended van every morning for 20 minutes no matter what the weather.  We’ve had a few delightful confrontations which usually end with him yelling:  “You, woman, go in house.  I do what I want!”  He even pounds his chest.  I’m not kidding.  That’s when I decided to produce an ‘end idling’ commercial.  Luckily I know some very talented people who jumped on board.  Here is the result.  (I’ll be sending my neighbour a thank you note for being the push behind the project).

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Ranting About Idling Vehicles

I guess the first irritant should be a big one and I have to say this one is right up there for me:   Idling Vehicles.

I walk my dog Annie 3 times a day and everyday I encounter vehicles needlessly spewing out their toxic gases while idiot owners chat on the phone, text, put on makeup, nap, pick their nose – whatever.  Or the car is empty because the owner is in the house waiting for it to warm up.  I cannot tell you how many running cars, trucks, vans I see outside banks, convenience stores, coffee shops, or in drive-through line ups.  Then there’s the parents who wait outside day care centers and schools in running vehicles for 10, 15, 30 minutes.  Don’t even get me started on vehicles running at train crossings. What are they thinking?!

I could give numerous examples – one of my ‘favorite’ moments one morning was coming upon a rather large woman, sitting in her running car eating a bowl of cereal.  She stared at me jumping up and down in front of her mimicking the hand motion for turning off the ignition.  She shook her head NO and continued eating.  Just loved her.

For some reason, many people actually think their vehicle is their own personal heating or cooling machine.  It really has nothing to do with what the vehicle needs – it’s all about the owner who thinks that whenever they get in their car, it should be the perfect temperature.  And they also think because it’s their car, they can do what they want.


Ten seconds of idling can use more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it.

Every 10 minutes of idling uses at least ,75 litres of gas and up to 2.65 litres for an 8-cylinder engine. Every litre of gas used produces over 2 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

For more info go to:


I see vehicles from blocks away as I patter down the street – the running lights are on and exhaust curls into the once fresh air.  I prepare myself and at least 3 or 4 times a day, winter or summer, I knock on a window or wave madly in front of a windshield and choose my approach, all the while trying to smile and be pleasant:

‘Please don’t leave your car running.’

‘Do you mind turning off your vehicle?’

‘Is it necessary for your car to be running while you sit here?’

‘Did you know this is an idle free zone?’

I am always coming up with new lines and am open to any ideas.  The responses I get are varied – a lot of “Fuck Offs’, a few sarcastic ‘Thanks for that note’ and even some genuine thanks.  Many reach over and turn off the engine, some cheerfully, some begrudgingly.  At least everyone I challenge can no longer look in the mirror and tell themselves they didn’t know.

Some even ask me ‘why?’ and then I get to launch into other one liners:

‘Because it poisons the air’

‘Because it’s bad for the environment’

‘Because I’m trying to breathe’

‘Because we share the air”

‘Because my ferocious Jack Russell Terrier will take a bite out of your tire’ (I have to run like hell after that one)

Unfortunately I live in a country that gets cold and worse in a city that is backwards beyond description so we do not yet have anti- idling laws.  Nothing to back me up – yet.

I encourage others to speak up.

End Idling.