There’s more than enough to be upset about, these days; Congress, the NSA’s massive and unwarranted surveillance of innocent Americans, libertarians, the designated hitter rule, the Kardashians. But life is full of minor irritants, too, those little things that tend to get under our skins. I offer below a few of my own pet peeves. Maybe you have some of your own, and I’d love to hear them.
Leaf blowers — Can you imagine a more idiotic thing to do than blowing leaves around? It would be one thing if people bagged them up or something, but they don’t. They just blow them away from one place to another, till the next breeze comes up. The noise is extremely annoying, and then there’s the pollution, both of sound and air.
Telemarketers — Or, as I call them, home invaders. The only difference is that I don’t know where they are, so I can’t throw an inkwell at them, as Martin Luther did to a devil he said was tormenting him. I did that job once, and I could only take it for a week. I’m not giving money to anyone calls me, including some fund for disabled fire fighters. I’ve checked out a few of these outfits, and they’re usually scams. If I want your service, I’ll contact you, okay?
People who shorten say, 2008 to 208. Two-oh-eight. Oh, so you can’t be bothered to pronounce that one extra syllable, and say two-thou-sand-eight? Get away from me. Twenty-ten for 2010 is alright, though, it makes sense.
Bweep! Bweep! Bweep! Bweep! WooooEEEEEoooooEEEEEoooooEEEEE! Honk! Honk! Honk! — Yeah, there it goes again, some car on the block whose alarm starts going off for absolutely no reason. No one is trying to break in, there hasn’t been an extra loud clap of thunder, and no truck hit it while driving by. I’d love to take a sledge hammer and give that alarm a little raison d’etre — a reason to justify its existence. Let it receiveth something worth bweeping about.
Talking computers — I don’t want them talking to me. I hate phone menus, and I refuse to use the self-check lines at the supermarket — “soup . . . one . . . forty-five.” And I think Siri is a snarky bitch.
“Is is” — It really gets me when I hear people say, “The thing is, is that yadda yadda. It just doesn’t sound like good grammar to me. The only time the word “is” should be used back to back is if you’re referring to some ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility.
You know — You know how when, you know, someone is, you know, talking, and, you know, every other, you know, word is YOU KNOW? That’s irritating. It’s like, you know, their brain is operating at about 19 mbps, like my slow high-speed internet. You know?
NOO-cu-lar — George W. Bush is one of the worst offenders, but then he’s a special needs child. The rest of you have no excuse. If you could merely say the words “new” and “clear,” that would be close enough for me. How hard can that be? If you can’t even pronounce the word properly, it tells me right off that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, so I have no interest in anything you have to say on the subject.
Speed talkers — This seems more common on radio than TV. You’re listening to some commercial, and during the last five or ten seconds a voice is machine-gunning a bunch of words together really fast. There must be a law that requires them to get that information into the ad or you’d never hear it, because it’s usually the bad news. They don’t want it to distract, so they do it like this: “All-transactions-including-taxes-and-fees-subject-to-change.Certain-conditions-and-exemptions-may-apply.Not-licensed-in-all-fifty-states.Could-cause-anal-bleeding” I’ve always found them very annoying. Now, though, they have computer programs that sound like real people, only they can talk even faster, which makes them even more annoying.
Fleas — If you have pets, you know what I mean. Even without pets, you can pick them up from the lawn, like the other animals do. I can’t see what purpose the flea serves in the ecosystem. What do they give back? They’re too small to contribute many nutrients back to the soil when they die, so what good are they? I think the Creator blew it with that one. Oh wait. I just remembered, there is a purpose for fleas after all: they’re extremely efficient at transmitting bubonic plague.
Internet trolls — I don’t mind an honest debate with someone who has opposing views to my own, but you only want to make ad hominem attacks. Like the lowly flea, you’re not important enough to qualify as a major irritant. Unlike the flea, who has a place in the great scheme of things, you have none. You’re hateful because you’re full of self loathing, so why not do us all a favor and either get professional help or put a gun to your head.
Chainsaws — Can’t stand them. That sound is more than a metaphor of destruction of the natural environment. I know, sometimes they’re really useful, like when you want to murder one of my tree friends. I understand that, but they’re still a bother. “aaaahhhhIIIIII’m really annoying! AaaahhhhIIIIIIII’m tearing the hell out of something!” Hate ‘em.
Cheerleaders in professional sports — What the hell? I’m trying to watch a football game, here! If I want to see a bunch of boobs jiggling around, I’ll go to a Hooters, or maybe watch Fox News.
Name that tune. Please! — Most rock and pop radio stations don’t tell you what songs they’re playing. What, they just assume everyone knows? Maybe I don’t have a smart phone with the “Shazzam” app. Yes, I know you can go to their website and dig through their play lists, but why should I have to go to all that trouble? It takes three seconds to say “That was ‘Stuff It!’ by Octopus Apocalypse.” There, was that so awful? The jazz station doesn’t operate like that, they tell you the song, but then jazz is classy.
Religious peddlers — Knock knock, Jesus calling. It’s the Holy Mormon Empire, or the Jehovah’s Witlesses. When you peddle your religion from door to door like it was a vacuum cleaner, it not only annoys me, it demeans your own belief system. It’s also just plain lazy. Go feed the poor, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and leave me the hell alone.
The guy with the loud car radio — You’ve heard this guy (it’s always a guy). He drives by your house with his car radio on, but all you can hear is the whoomp-whoomp-whoomp of the bass speakers, as you watch the paint flake from the walls. You can imagine how loud it must sound inside that car. I am comforted by knowing that by the time this guy is thirty, he’ll probably be deaf as a post.
Cigarette bums — These people are pretty low the food chain. I know times are tough, and money short; I’ve been there a few times myself. You have to prioritize where your money goes. If cigarettes are a heavy addiction, then you can’t afford to not have them. Don’t ask me to subsidize your habit, be responsible for your own habit (Jeez, I sound like a damn libertarian). I’ve never bummed a cigarette in my life, and never will. Before I retired this was a major irritant, because I was out in public a lot more.
I wouldn’t want you to get the idea that I’m a crabby old man; I’m really not. However, I will admit that since I was a child I wanted to grow up to be a curmudgeon. Now, having realized my dream, I can sit back and enjoy it, but in moderation. I have never yelled at kids to get off my lawn, and the only clouds I shake my fist at are digital ones. I have a nice place, a quiet neighborhood, good neighbors, and a beautiful yard to take care of, so life isn’t too bad. I just reread this list, and I guess it’s mostly other people who annoy me.