The interpreter was holding a stick, trying to fish a white bag from the branches of an elderberry bush next to the trail. The bag had been knotted shut, blindly flung aside, and was snagged by a handle loop. What was in the bag? The sun shone through. There was no mystery.
“Poop,” said the interpreter. Of the subset of dog walkers that actually stopped to stoop and scoop, a subset of them, seeming to think its duty done, would fling the dogs’ bagged feces into the bushes. “Oh, thank you, whoever you are,” said the interpreter. He was on tiptoe, his neck aching, unable to de-snag the bag.
“Ahem,” said a woman, from behind.The interpreter lowered his arm and turned around. A scowling, grey-haired woman was a few feet away.
“Hello,” said the interpreter.
“Why is jogging allowed in this park?” asked the woman. She was angry, clearly, and she had an imperious British accent. The interpreter knew instinctively that this was not just any disgruntled park visitor. In dealing with such a person, one must choose one’s words carefully.
“Well, it's a multi-use park,” he explained. “Many people jog, and they like to jog here, because the trails are level and springy. Easy on the shins.”
“Rubbish,” said the woman. “This is a park for enjoying nature. Not for running around like a fool, damaging the environment.”
“Oh,” said the interpreter. There was no point in arguing. It would be like trying to remove a snagged bag of dog feces from a bush with an inadequate stick. “Well, I will make a note, and pass on your recommendation,” he said. He patted his empty shirt pocket, where he sometimes carried a note pad. In response to complaints, he would pull out the pad, and scribble earnestly, which gave park visitors the mistaken impression that their input was valued and would be acted upon. Today he had forgotten his note pad.
The woman glared at him. “What exactly are you going to do about this?”
“I will make a report,” said the interpreter.
“To whom?” asked the woman, who clearly did not believe him.
“To my superior,” said the interpreter.
“And that would be whom?” asked the woman.
“Just about everybody else who works here,” said the interpreter. “You're speaking to the very bottom of the food chain.” This was absolutely true.
“Look,” said the woman. “I expect some action on this. Can you not understand how simple this issue is? Jogging simply does not belong here. This is a place for nature. Imagine a family, crouching down, enjoying a slug, and then some fool comes crashing around the corner and ruins the whole experience! Stop smirking!”
The interpreter had not wanted to smirk. However, the concept of “enjoying a slug” amused him, especially when expressed with an imperious accent.
The woman snapped, “This is unacceptable! I want your name and badge number!”
“I don't have a badge,” said the interpreter. “We don't have badges in Canada.”
“I am a Canadian! Since before you were born!”
“Sorry,” said the interpreter.
“Name!” Fortunately the interpreter had also forgotten to pin on his plastic name tag. He gave the name of an interpreter from the previous year who had quit after being criticized by a superior for walking past a bag of dog feces dangling from a bush and doing nothing about it.
The woman, clenched with purpose and faulty intelligence, marched away.
The interpreter found a longer stick and reaching upward, muttered, “Enjoying a slug.”