Shame works! Here’s how

Let’s face it – we’re moving towards a society that seems to be forgoing manners.

Before I go full church lady on you, here’s an example: dogs at Starbucks.

It used to be on the odd occasion you’d see a clearly blind gentleman with a German Shepherd in a highlighter-bright vest that said “SERVICE ANIMAL” and you’d understand. This was an animal trained specifically for this purpose – to be this man’s eyes. It was also trained to function in crowds and be generally pleasant and well-behaved.

But now you can get an official-looking “SERVICE ANIMAL” vest on eBay and slap it on your flea-ridden pooch, granting you access anywhere. Bank? No problem. Deli counter? Bring him on in. Airplane? Of course!

The problem happened when the definition of “service dog” became “service animal” and “service” which used to mean “can’t see sh*t” to “emotional support” as well. Carrie Fisher started this trend because she was an addict of some sort and the dog was used for her therapy so it was like a sober coach that crapped with impunity.

I’d love to bring a lot of things for me with emotional support. I’d love to put my CA King bed on a dolly and wheel it with me everywhere. I’d feel emotionally-supported taking a nap in line at the Post Office. I’d be able to skip asking for phone numbers and get right down to business.

In fact, I’d bet a lot of folks would feel emotionally-supported bringing a concealed-carry gun into Starbucks, especially victims of assault or rape or someone with a stalker.

Between the service animal and the concealed-carry pistol, Starbucks only allows one (of course). If someone pulled a Lindt Chocolates and took people hostage at gunpoint I’d feel safer with a Beretta than a Bearded Collie, but what do I know?

Service animals are the new handicapped placards. Good intent, completely warped execution. It goes to show – when you allow special privileges through regulation, no matter how well-intentioned, they will be abused. Especially if the regulatory body is as slow-moving as the government. A man trying to sneak a cheaper beer on ladies’ night at a bar gets thrown out right away. A lazy Beverly Hills housewife could use a phony handicapped placard for years before anyone even noticed and she gets a meager ticket for it that’s still less than the parking meter and ticket fees she would’ve paid in the first place. One could extend the “special privileges” to a discussion of legal and illegal immigration too. A club with a sleeping bouncer would be packed over capacity in minutes with people who shouldn’t be there. And if the punishment was to walk people outside and tell them “you can’t be in here”, you won’t be surprised when they try to get back in.

What does this service animal insanity say about us? We have warped, selfish priorities. Adam Carolla has ranted similarly on the subject – how people view dogs as a narcissistic extension of themselves, how up until a few years ago most people would tie up their dogs outside, how as soon as “THIS IS A SERVICE DOG GET OUT OF MY WAY” became a legitimate excuse that was abused to no extent for bringing a whole menagerie of animals with you, EVERYWHERE.

So co me shocked when I saw a woman with a Pekingese in her arms at Starbucks, dangling the little turdmonster over the counter as I stood in line behind her.

The barista, who I know casually, started backing away from the register.

“I am deathly allergic to dogs”, she said, after taking the woman’s order. I lean in and told the woman she should take the dog outside where it belongs, and she scuttled outside, without a fight.

As the barista recovered from an itchy spell, I was expecting a cavalcade of complaining entitlement from Dog Lady (a word that rhymes with “itchy” comes to mind) but the shaming worked. Most people are the type of people who are “too afraid to say anything” but will quietly grumble when they see someone doing something wrong. I know because I’ve been one of those people. But lately the voice in my head that says “SAY something this is CLEARLY wrong” has been louder than the “shhHHHhhhshhh don’t say anything this complete stranger will disapprove of you” voice. And guess what? It kept the barista from having an allergic reaction and having to run away from the register.

Assertiveness saves lives.

And shaming works.

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