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"A man about a dog," Dublin Sunday afternoon

Republic of Ireland, 2007 —

Ha'Penny Bridge, Dublin
I was in Dublin one day in April — I'd gotten on the "next bus to anywhere" from

I was behind an elderly lady on queue at a small supermarket in the Temple Bar district when I noticed that one of the packets of sauce-mix that she was buying had been damaged.

The powder spilled across the scale; and, since the cashier did not observe this, I pointed it out. "Oh," she said — "thank you." She told the customer that it would be okay for her to go pick out another one of the same, after checkout.

The poor old lady was obviously a little bit confused — and, in fairness, the suggestion was inconsiderate. I asked the cashier did they not have somebody who could go get a replacement for the damaged packet. So she went off herself to do so.

I spoke during her excursion with the aul one — she was old Dublin, from a time when you would not have seen such hurried, unhelpful demeanor. There's nothing wrong with a little customer service, we agreed.

When the total bill came up, the lady was just a bit short of enough money, so I gave the cashier a fiver, from which she then gave me the change.

We said our pleasant goodbyes, the old lady and I — both of us feeling better than before.

There's a beautiful indoor marketplace, next door to Dunne's Stores — the shop that I had been in. I walked through this area — George's Street Arcade — just looking.

Out the other end of the covered marketplace, I encountered a scene which I needed to photograph. An old man and a young woman were sitting on a bench, looking very Irish.

How not to meet an Irish woman

Working in a department store, I asked a customer if she'd like to have a drink with me....

I asked them if I could photograph them, to which they agreed.

The young woman said to me "That was really nice what you did."


"In the shop. I was behind you in queue. What you did for that lady was nice. It warmed my heart."

"Oh," I said — and babbled something that I don't remember. She asked me if I wanted to join them on the bench, to which I naturally said yes.

The aul lad was a good sport about it. He'd once been younger — he knew why I wanted to talk with her. He presented himself as a bit of a rough character, and I suspect that it was not all bluff and bluster. He said that he only enjoyed crime fiction, when he read books.

We talked about various topics, as people do. I think the old fella began to feel excluded, which I regretted later — he excused himself to "go see a man about a dog." The girl asked him about the dog — and I had to explain to her that this is a typical expression, a euphemism. (It means, basically, "I'm going to go somewhere else now.") We laughed that an American would have to explain the local (European-English) expression to a native.

After ten or fifteen minutes — she took her first digital photograph during this time — she said she needed to go keep an appointment. I walked with her back through the marketplace to George Street, and we stood together to say our goodbyes.