German dogs are extraordinarily well trained and are allowed to go pretty much anywhere – restaurants, shopping malls, trains, even movie theaters. No one is ever being yanked by their dog down the street screaming at them “NO PULL! NO PULL!” Most dogs I see are off-leash in the middle of the city, cheerfully sniffing and peeing on everything they can right next to busy streets.
One thing Germans do not do well is pick up their dog’s poo. I have become something of an expert poo-dodger, because not only do Germans not pick up their dog’s poo, they also seem to have no problem with their dog squatting and taking a huge dump right in the middle of a sidewalk. Sidewalks are almost certainly German dogs’ preferred place for dumping. Which means when you’re walking cheerfully along, enjoying the beautiful, fresh-smelling day, you’re rather likely to step in a nice juicy one if you haven’t yet developed your expert poo-dodging skills. (It’s all about the peripheral vision, guys. Just gotta hone those periphs.)
There are still signs around like in the States asking people to please DON’T LET YOUR DOG CRAP ON THE SIDEWALK OR IF YOU DO, PICK IT UP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. But, being German, they are way more explicit. Instead of a nice vectorized vague form of poo with an X over it or something like that, they have this:
My original plan with the Roommate was to collect some juicy sidewalk poo and then get imaginative.
The whole put-it-in-a-bag-set-it-on-fire-on-the-porch-ring-doorbell-run trick doesn’t work here, because we live on the top floor in a building full of apartments and Roommate would never go all the way down the stairs just to see why someone wouldn’t stop ringing the buzzer. I had to think of other options. I literally spent a good hour or two gleefully outlining all the devilish things I could do with this poo. I could just leave it in the bag and hide it under his bed, so it both attracted vermin and made everything smell. I could find a blender, blend it so it was nice and liquified, then pour it into the delicate inner workings of his Playstation. I could also do less destructive things, like take his collection of DVDs, put them on a spool so they’d be safe, and then pour the liquified dog poo into the empty cases. It would both smell awful with seemingly no origin, and the next time he wanted to watch one of his DVDs he’d open the case and instead of the Matrix there’d be POO!
I’m still rather proud of that one. Thinking about it induces instant maniacal giggles.
As soon as I found out I’d be moving out in a month 90% of my rage melted away. Really the things he had done weren’t so bad. Wasn’t I supposed to be the bigger person? The Boyfriend also urged me to step back and view his life from a larger perspective, trying to convince me there was nothing I could do to him that he hadn’t already done to himself.
(Except replace his German copy of Dude Where’s My Car? with dog crap, he probably hadn’t done that).
But it didn’t really work, because I wasn’t after vengeance – I was after justice. Justice, for the time we asked him to please wash the pan on the stove full of his old food because we needed to use it to cook ourselves, as there are five people in the apartment sharing two pans, and he tried to get us kicked out (Thankfully the other roommates responded with, ‘Um, hell-to-the-no.’). Justice, for the times he told me I needed to take out the paper trash because it was attracting flies, when a square yard of the kitchen floor was covered in his half-empty beer bottles that were literally full of flies and I took out the paper trash once a month anyway.
Justice, for the time he skipped his cleaning week and didn’t clean for two months, then tried to criticize me for my cleaning ability. Justice, for drinking all our expensive liquor with his friends without asking for permission, and then when I confronted him about it, leaving a 10e bill on the table without apologizing – when he knew the bottle cost 30e!
The worst was when I decided to play a game called ‘Let’s See How Long it Takes Roommate to Take Out the Trash’ (because in addition to never taking out the trash or put back the dishes from the dish washer, he also never bought household items like toilet paper, soap, trash bags, washing detergent, sugar, cleaning spray, etc.) and nine days later he moved the trash from our kitchen to the apartment stairwell so the whole building smelled like ass, then three days later he finally took it out to the garbage can in the courtyard outside, and then he never put in a new trash liner. Boyfriend and I were keeping our trash in little tied bags in our room and then taking it out every morning. Have no idea what Roommate was doing. Eventually the good roommates returned and put a new trash liner in and bought all the other household things. But Asshole Roommate still never bought anything or took out the trash.
And justice most of all for being super nice about it, for taking deep breaths and walking away when I most wanted to shriek and punch the wall, for never confronting him until he confronted me or the Boyfriend. I even tried just cleaning after him, in the hopes that if he saw that everything was always super clean he would start feeling guilty, and we would build a sense of goodwill and mutual understanding and help maintain a clean kitchen where everyone could cook when they needed without having to wash other people’s dirty dishes.
Did I mention he tried to get us kicked out of the apartment because we were dirty?
As you can tell, I’m still a little upset about it.
So, in an effort to stem the utterly psychotic, mass-murdering rampage rage building inside me, I decided to take the thing that most ruined my day – Roommate being an asshole and feeling like I am living with a giant spoiled toddler I can’t discipline and who slams doors and blasts music and is generally rude – and turn it into an art project.
This photography series is called Demon, Thy Name is Hypocrisy, and was gathered over the past week and a half. I only ever take pictures in the morning, giving him 12 – 24 hours to clean before grabbing my camera.
After deciding to turn Roommate’s messes into photographs, my attitude completely changed – I was almost excited for a particularly glorious mess, because it meant more photography opportunities. Forcing myself to find the beauty in something that so infuriated me sucked out the anger in a weird sort of way. It was hard, obviously – these photographs aren’t my best work, for sure – but it helped me let go of my anger. Now instead of determinedly imaging all the ways I could use dog poop to make Roommate’s life miserable, I began to view things with a sort of smugness – he thought he was just pissing me off, when it reality, he was helping me. And he was probably more upset about me than I was about him. Eventually the smugness wore off, and now I’m more at the just-shake-your-head-and-go-get-your-camera stage — which is a healthier place to be I think.
I know this strategy might not work for all situations, but when you’re really angry and you can’t do anything to change anything, that anger hurts yourself more than anyone else. Thinking of a way to repurpose the awful into something you enjoy, forcing yourself to be creative in finding ways to manipulate it to your own advantage, can help let go of those damaging emotions.
I’m happy to say that Boyfriend and I are moving into our own place this weekend, and I hope to never have roommates again. HAZAH!
And in case you were wondering, this is where the German government hopes people will put their dog poo instead of leaving it in the middle of the street. Look how friendly and perfectly unused it is.