Monday, August 17, 2009

The pug is driving the car

I really love this weather. Although it has made unpacking a little slower than expected, I will not complain about the sun and heat. Not after the summer we've had so far.

We’re already nicely settled in, key areas unpacked and operational (kitchen, bathroom and closet), and we're now focusing on clearing out the remaining boxes before the weekend. Brendan’s grandparents are visiting from Sudbury, our first house guests!

Yesterday, after spending the morning unpacking, we decided to have brunch at the Orford Café, a small restaurant on Sherbrooke street not far from where we live. We’d been there once and the food was great, albeit a bit expensive. We sat outside, right at the corner of Orford and Sherbrooke, and ordered our meals. While we were waiting, we noticed a car slowing down on Sherbrooke, down to a halt before it crawled onto Orford at a snail’s pace. We check out the driver only to realize that it was a man in his 50’s with a fidgety pug standing on his lap. Speaking of things that will distract you from the road… I’m surprised the guy wasn't also speaking on his cell.

The car drives around a second time and the driver parks it right next to us. He gets out, along with a slender blond woman, and proceeds to get a table in a shaded area on the patio. That’s when we realized that they had left the engine running, with the AC on, with the front-seat window cracked open an inch, I’m assuming so the dog did not feel too locked in and stressed.

They left the car idling… Both Brendan and I are dumbfounded, even folks sitting next to us are staring back at the car, slightly amused and in disbelief.

We get our meal and start eating, still under shock, when we realized that we are starting to smell the car exhaust. On days where the city air is thick with smog, this idling engine is simply outrageous. I place my utensils on my plate, stand up, straighten up my dress and walk over to the table where the couple is now enjoying their coffee.

“Excuse me”, I say “you've left your car idling and we’re sitting at the table right next to it, we can smell the exhaust.” The first response the guy gives me? “Why don’t you change table?”

I see. The comfort of your dog not only beats any concern for the environment, but also the comfort of the people around you. I guess this is not one person I would win over with arguments of air pollution.

“We already started eating, and we don’t really want to move” was my next comment. He then looked around, annoyed, and pointed out to the busy Sherbrooke segment in front of the restaurant to show me that there were no other parking spaces available. There was a space a few buildings away, but he wanted to keep the car close so the dog could see them.

Oh brother.

“Why don’t you take the dog with you instead?”, I asked. After all, we’re sitting literally on the street and I've seen others have breakfast with a dog lying down at their feet. The man asks the waitress if he was allowed and she reassured him that it wasn't a problem at all.

“Yeah, I guess I can do that. Yeah, see that’s a good solution.”

I thanked him and walked back to my table. As I sat down, Brendan gave me an inquisitive look as if asking “how did you do that?” Well, no reasonable argument was going to convince this person to turn off his car engine. No argument other than the comfort of his precious fur child. I was happy of the outcome, that’s for sure, even if the reason for the change in behavior seemed completely wrong. I smiled as I saw the dog twitching on his owner’s lap as the man was trying to eat his eggs.

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