Let’s face it: everyone is seeking that little patch of life we can call our own. Most of us seek it through family. Others try to carve it out in our careers. Still others are more literal and build beautiful homes.
I, personally, have had many patches of life along the way. Indeed, I’m what you might call a patch day-trader, constantly trading one patch for another.
I’m not sure this has gained me anything. For example, I’ve married or cohabited with seven women in my life, but I don’t have seven women to show for it. I don’t even have two. I have only one plus death threats from the other six. That’s not much to show for all those years of patch trading.
In recent months, I’ve observed a Thai street dog who has taken the exact opposite approach. Bangkok sidewalks are extremely valuable strips of real estate. Street vendors constantly jostle for the best place on them to sell their wares. It might be said that none of them own the sidewalk; like me, they’re nomadic. Yet, this street dog is the undisputable owner of his patch of sidewalk.
How, you ask? Simple. Every day, sometimes twice a day, he poops in exactly the same spot, rain or shine. This may seem like a small thing. Indeed, he’s a small dog, so it is a small thing. But its effectiveness is undisputable. Few people dare violate his territory, choosing instead to cut a wide berth around it. Those who do stride through his lands soon rue the decision and can be seen scuffing the soles of their shoes for blocks afterward. The next time they pass through the area, you can well bet they give his tiny kingdom the respect it deserves.
I thought there was a life lesson in this little dog’s example, so when I came home the other day, I pooped in our easy chair. Why the easy chair, you ask? Because it’s my favorite chair, but Jan’s always jumping into it yelling the Thai equivalent to “Dibs!” So I pooped in it to claim it as my own.
Unfortunately, that didn’t give me absolute ownership. It gave me a whack across the back of the head, followed by a half hour of forced labor to clean up my mess.
Undeterred, I pooped in it again the next day. And the next day. And the next day after that.
I thought for sure Jan would eventually give in, but when I came home late on the fourth day, the easy chair was gone, hauled away to the dump.
That’s not fair, I thought. Nobody dug up Thai street dog’s sidewalk. Maybe that’s because it’s an immovable object, I theorized. So I pooped on the floor where the easy chair used to be.
More head-whacking and forced labor followed, but I kept on pooping, and one day when I came home, instead of being forced to clean things up, I found a note from Jan that said she’d be staying with relatives until further notice.
My God, I thought. I not only own that small patch of living room floor. I’ve acquired the entire apartment!
So I expanded my program into the hallway and began pooping in front of other people’s doors. This took much longer, but eventually others began leaving the building, too.
This little dog is a genius, I thought. He’s not only shown me how to own a patch of sidewalk; he’s shown me how I can acquire an entire building!
So I began pooping on all the floors. And this, too, seemed to be working, until a security camera caught me in the act.
Now I find myself in this little 12 x 12 cell with a dirt floor, holed up with a half-dozen drunks and greeby-looking thieves. You know what’s worse? They’re all taking turns pooping in one corner of the cell, trying to assert their ownership through some kind of poop cartel. I’m literally getting squeezed out!
I’m also starting to question the wisdom of the life lesson I’ve drawn from the little street dog’s example. Maybe pooping on things works for him, but it’s brought me only misery.
Maybe, as a human being, the key to finding happiness in life is not pooping on the things you care about.