In some ways, I am happier not going outside

2021-03-16

in Daily updates, Toronto

Perhaps surprisingly, I haven’t really been feeling too confined my by self-isolation so far. I think a big part of that has been losing the two overwhelming sources of stress on my walks: unstable men who seem to be in the midst of a psychological crisis and/or under the influence of a powerful stimulant, who I encounter on the sidewalks during many walks, and people with off-leash dogs that come running at me, giving me two big scares in succession from the dog itself and then from the nearly-always entitled and irate owner who wants to pick a fight about how friendly their dog is and how legitimate it is for them to have it off-leash on a sidewalk, trail, or park.

Even before the potential COVID exposure I had been refocusing my walks on the U of T campus, where I don’t think I have ever encountered one of those scary men or an off-leash dog of such a size as to pose a threat. On streets like Bloor and College, as well as the trails I have been exploring, almost every walk involves me changing course to take a wide circle around someone who seems unstable and dangerous or to avoid having to deal with double aggressions from dogs and their owners.

Recent incidents of dog owners getting aggressive with me when I have explained that strange dogs often come running at me when unleashed have even made me question whether I want to stay in Toronto. They seem to embody how affluence and entitlement have superseded empathy and courtesy in much of the population. Rather than maintaining a determination to live together in a way that respects the safety of all, many of my co-residents seem to be mega-libertarians whose ideology is that they can do whatever they want and everyone else can go hang.

On day six of post-exposure isolation, the avoided stress from these encounters seems to be more than counterbalancing the cessation of all exercise and limited access to food.

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