She refused to clear up her dog poo. How dare she?

Chris McGuire asks why can't we just all be nice to each other

Chris McGuire asks why can't we just all be nice to each other - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Chris McGuire is still reeling after a woman allowed her dog to poo at the end of his garden and then refused to clear it up. Where did all the nice people go?, he wonders

It was like I was invisible - just not there at all.

I gripped the door a little tighter, my knuckles whitened - my smile became rictus-like. Yet nobody offered so much as a nod of appreciation. Eventually, after being ignored by at least 20 people, none of whom had made any attempt to stop and let me enter the store, I decided enough was enough. I let the door go and walked away - deciding to try and enter the shop again later, when I'd calmed down.

Now, I'm sure there's a fair number of you queuing up to label me an overly sensitive snowflake. Fair enough, but I'm serious here. We, as a society, seem to have lost something. We've allowed 'niceness' to become a negative trait; something to be purged from our systems in case it shows up as weakness. "Show me a nice person and I'll show you a pushover" is beginning to feel like the pervasive motto. I realised, standing outside that department store, waiting for in vain for my turn to enter, that I really miss niceness. Can we have it back please?

"Oh, he doesn't suffer fools" was said of someone I had the misfortune to interact with this week. This statement was, of course, code for "He's a big-headed grump". Once again, how does this work? How does it happen that someone is sanctioned to step outside of the conventions of society that the rest of us have to struggle with? Surely 'suffering fools' is what the human condition is all about? Life is about making the effort, going that extra step to get on - to be nice. So why is it we now praise so-called 'high-status' individuals for ditching the niceties? Why is this considered a good thing?

My view is that we've become self-obsessed, 'me-focused' and, quite frankly, obnoxious. If I hear another person tell me: "That's just the way I do things" after they've acted like a selfish brat, I think I may vomit. The other day I had a conversation with a lady outside my house. Her dog had just evacuated its bowels at the end of my garden path. The woman was walking off, making no attempt to clear up the mess, so I called after her. The response I got was terse to say the least. "Not my problem," she announced, when I asked her to shift the poo. I just couldn't get my head around how she thought creating a problem (how else would you describe a pile of excrement?), and handing it over to me to deal with, was OK. "Not my dog," I replied. She shook her head and walked away. I'm sure, in her head, she was the victor. But I see her actions as a sign of a society where we've all lost.

What would a nice person have done? I know what I did- it involved rubber gloves and bucket of hot soapy water.

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Can I end on a plea? If you're able to, can you try to be nice to those around you? Perhaps think about the effect your actions are having on others? Other people are important too, not just the background artists in your life. There are lots of nice people out there. I'm sure you're a nice person yourself, reading this. Wouldn't it be great if our society stopped seeing consideration as a sign of weakness and allowed the nice to shine?

Chris McGuire is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Check out Chris's new book, The Modern MAMIL: How to look pro, illustrated by Spencer Wilson and published by Ice House Books, a hilarious look at the cycling culture of middle-aged men in Lycra - out now. @McGuireski