A stranger just waited outside the grocery store, gathering and working up a small group of other strangers, so when I came out, she could yell at me for leaving my dog tied up outside.
She told me dogs have been stolen lately from outside another nearby store.
She told me that there's "a pitbull ring up at 125" and that they will come in a van, cut the leash, steal the dog and euthanize her.
A passerby then added in passing "and EAT her!!"
"See?" said the first lady.
I asked her to please try to speak to me in a less aggressive way.
I told her I'd always considered the neighborhood rather safe in this particular regard.
I told her that I appreciated her concern and good intentions.
We agreed that we both have dead parents and love animals.
I told her my leaving my dog there while I went into the store was none of her business.
I didn't tell her that I grew up being told the same thing would happen to me. That strangers would sidle up to me and inject me with god-knows-what, spirit me away and then . . . [meaningful looks here]
I didn't tell her that I've spent years and years being unfriendly and stand-off-ish and anxious out of an abundance of caution (fear) about what strangers might do to me or my pet or my property or my loved one.
I didn't tell her that I'd just finally started to settle into the idea that most people are good, that I live in a pretty nice neighborhood with a community of folks who recognize and look out for each other. I didn't point out that I made this choice in the middle of a sunny, Sunday afternoon on a busy block that I know well.
I don't want to take unnecessary risks; if dogs are being stolen I will reconsider leaving mine tied up unattended (and I'm glad to have the information). But I also don't want to be that lady and her ad-hoc cronies worried about faceless van people stealing and eating dogs. I don't want the burden of that world view.
And I really don't want to be yelled at. Especially by strangers.