Friday, November 23, 2007

instructions for holiday hikers

1. Say hello on the trail. This isn't BART or downtown San Francisco or the gynecologist's waiting room. This is a lovely day out in nature, a day of thankfulness and joy. Smile and make eye contact once in a while.

2. When someone talks to your dog, your child, or you, do not react with distrust and suspicion. People walking through the Redwoods on a sunny day are a self-selected group of upstanding citizens. And if not, there about 78 other people around to stop them from whatever heinous act you imagine they're about to pull.

3. This is an off-leash trail. Take your damn dog off leash. His leash tenseness is bringing all the other dogs down.

4. The proper dog greeting consists of four steps: nose touch, butt sniff, circle, and goodbye. Don't stand there letting strange dogs get tangled in the morass of your leash until everyone is yelping and freaking out. This is a trail; keep walking.

5. Quit zigzagging all over the place. Keep to the right. Cyclists can and will mow you down, taking the rest of us with you.

6. Learn to cycle. Clue: when you hear me call to my dog, "Right side!" and see my dog go stand at the edge of the path to let you through, pedal your damn bike. Do not stop, boxing in my dog, and wait for us to try to go by. This only confuses a dog who has just been told to get off the bleeping trail in order to accomodate your sorry ass.

7. If you are a lycra jogger, you should've done this at 6:00 AM so you didn't have to mingle with us mere mortals. Since you're here at noon instead, stop being so snotty. Smile and nod like all the regular cotton t-shirt joggers.

8. Here's a handy hint: when you're off the trail, put your dog back on the leash. Almost crashing my car into two separately-owned dogs is less than festive for all involved.

9. When someone spends a half hour braving bite wounds in order to rescue your lost dog from near-certain death, say thank you.

10. Slow down. You drive this windy road four times a year, tops. You have no idea where the crosswalks or hairpin turns are. You don't even know where the memorial is for the cyclist who was killed here. This is its busiest day of the year. Your tailgating is an audacious display of ignorance: the drunken, disgruntled, and overfed are running rampant.

And now, with that out of the way, I'm off to buy a Christmas tree.

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