Just Be Nicer

Last Tuesday morning I pulled into the parking lot of my local veterinarian’s office to pick up some flea medicine and dry food for my cats.  Some guy had backed his large pickup truck into the parking lot.  His truck was parked slightly slanted, with the bed of the truck facing the door to the vet’s office.  The truck was taking up residence in more than one of the parking spaces.  I decided to pull up next to the truck and park as straight and as close as possible just to make a point about what good parking looks like.

I went in and paid for my cat food and flea medicine.  I talked to the folks behind the counter for a while.  I was there for about ten minutes and then left to get back in my car.

As I loaded my bag of cat food into my back seat, the owner of the pickup truck came out.  He was a big guy in jeans and a flannel shirt.  He had a head full of messy blond hair and a pair of tough looking boots on his feet.  He ran up to the gate of his truck and pulled it down quickly.  He stood next to the bed of his truck and looked back toward the vet’s office expectantly.  His face was pink and his eyes were red.

I quietly realized that he had been crying.


The door to the vet’s office opened and a small family of people came out together carrying a dog bed like a stretcher, heavy and woolen.  The bed was filled with a golden-colored lifeless dog.  Each of the grievers had tear-stained faces and puffy eyes.  I realized that one of the people in the party was our regular vet, also with a tear-stained face.

The family and our vet lifted the dog into the back of the truck.  I heard a few of their exchanges.  They planned to bury the dog in their yard, next to the other animals that the dog had spent his life with—a cat, a few goats, and a bunny.  I watched the man with the boots hop down from the bed of his truck and put his arm around a young girl that was probably his daughter.  She tucked her face into his chest and started to sob.  The man with the boots followed suit, unabashedly crying into her hair.

I felt like a voyeur as I put my car in reverse.  The man and the girl continued to cry.

The man who parked like an asshole, wasn’t an asshole.  He was probably just trying to save his dog’s life.  He probably pulled into the parking lot with his family, the family dog in a fit of emergency.  All of them were probably hoping for a miracle.  Or course the man driving didn’t make it into the lines of his parking space.  It just wasn’t important.

We don’t always know what people are dealing with.

It was unfortunate for me to think that someone had just casually pulled into my veterinarian’s office with no concept of parking spaces.  That wasn’t it at all.  A man and his family were about to lose their family dog and they parked in the best way that they could manage.

We don’t always know what’s going on for people.  We don’t always know what has happened. We are often quick to judge.

Maybe we should just be nicer.