Five Things That Irritate Me Greatly When I Really Should Be Worrying About Global Warming and Other Significant Local, National, and/or Global Problems

December 18, 2009

Enough of the holiday good cheer. I’m feeling a bit grumpy today. I like to imagine that I am not alone in being prone to the aggravation caused by petty irritations, and yet I sometimes feel a bit guilty when I grouse about the trivial. After all, there are many more important things I could be thinking and writing about. I am not. Instead, I offer the following five things that make me crabby, not necessarily in order of their grouchiness-inducing power:

Number one: Printed public misspellings. My mother was watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire this week and I was seeing if I could answer before the contestants. One of the questions had to do with the job Mathew B. Brady held during the Civil War and one of the wrong choices was “calvary officer.” Although this answer was incorrect, it wasn’t  deemed publicly wrong because of the obvious misspelling. Brady was a photographer and the contestant got it right (He had to ask a friend. I knew the answer. Hah!). The answer itself was wrong because Calvary is a hill near Jerusalem. It should have read “cavalry officer”—a soldier on horseback. I expect more of people who are giving away money for correct answers. Sadly, public misspellings are rampant. And don’t get me started on apostrophe misuse. No wonder none of my students know where they belong (the apostrophes, not the students).

Number two: Restaurants that do their cleaning while I am eating. Vacuum cleaners make a dreadful noise and give off an unpleasant smell. I loathe them. Restauranteurs know this and wait until I arrive to begin to pushing machinery under and around the table or booth where I am eating. Ditto for places that use strong-smelling cleaners to swab off windows and tables near where I’m trying to enjoy my food. Think, people. Please.

Number three: Packaging that’s impossible to open. I have some scissors I bought several months ago. They came in a multipack and I’ve only been able to access two of the three pair. I’ve cut my hand twice on the recalcitrant plastic holding the final pair and I’m convinced that getting to it will take power tools or a chainsaw. Here’s a hint to manufacturers: If I am purchasing scissors, it may be because I don’t have scissors, making it impossible for me to use my nonexistent scissors to open the package holding the scissors. I am reminded of the scissors because I’m at a hotel trying to unwrap a knife I bought so I can cut apples. It’s held tightly to its packaging by some tough plastic strapping that I can’t cut because I don’t have an unpackaged knife—or scissors. We’ll eat the apples whole.

Number four: Fishing line being used as thread. If it’s plastic and has pointy, scratchy ends when it’s been cut, it should not be used to stitch together underwear or any other kind of clothing. I just threw a bra in the trash because I got tired of putting Kleenex® between my tender skin and the irritating scratchiness of the thread holding the fastenings. What happened to thread made from things like cotton and silk? I’m irritated that I’m even asking this silly question. Clothing shouldn’t hurt and any manufacturer with any sense at all should know that.

Number five: Eating out and cheating the waitstaff of tips. Times are tough. I know they are. Lots of us are making less money and needing to have it go further. But if you eat out, please tip generously. Don’t be stingy. Stay home or go for fast food if you can’t afford to leave fair payment for services. And, yes, I know that sometimes service is mediocre, but still, think how much nicer you’ll feel when you leave the proper amount.

I share my pettiness in order to give you permission to revel in your own cranky complaining. This is an especially rewarding end-of-the-term activity, particularly if you focus on things that drive you nuts about school. You might even be able to do something about them, unlike my irritations that are likely to continue unabated.

What makes you grumpy?

I used to be funny, and perhaps I’m not anymore. It may be that I have become rather grumpy because I’ve seen so many things that have offended me that I cannot deal with in terms of laughter.
• Kurt Vonnegut



  1. #1-going shopping on the “day after Thanksgiving” sale or better known now as “Black Friday”. I have only went twice in my life and both times drove home feeling very grumpy. I watched people fighting over the last dvd player, shoving carts in front of each other, employees being unkind to shoppers, shoppers being unkind to employees, and everyone throwing items in their cart like it was the last day of their life to buy anything. Made me feel dirty to even watch it.

    #2-parents who don’t watch their kids at parks/public play areas. As a mother of three young girls, I frequent city parks, storytimes, a local play area called “Outdoor In”, etc. While I understand that many of us moms have homework to do, bills to pay, purses to organize or coffee to drink, I still consider supervising my children to be my first priority when I take them out and about. There have been more times than I can count when my children have been hit, kicked, screamed at, toys ripped out of their hands, etc. at these places. I am always looking around and asking myself, “Where is the mother of this child?” More often than not, I eventually find the mother who has no idea what is going on because she is bent over a laptop, or texting on her cell, or many other countless things. Annoying.

    #3-Rude employees. Whether I go to Wal-Mart, McDonalds, or the local library, I expect for an employee to at least be polite when helping others. I am very annoyed when I see employees that will not even smile at others or say “your welcome” after being thanked. It takes only a few seconds and makes a world of difference.

  2. Your rude employees inspired me as you can see in today’s post. I was reminded how much this irritates me even as I try to smile pleasantly since I know I’ll just feel bad if I am also a donkey’s behind! W-OZ

  3. What makes me grumpy? Pencils and first-graders….they don’t mix very well. I have system that should work very well. Pencils are pre-sharpened; students exchange a dull pencil for a sharp one. Easy. With this system in place, students can quietly and easily take care of their own needs without disturbing others.

    They have a way of finding “unique” routes to the pencils, needing several pencils to replace one, and pencils seem to disappear! It’s so true, ask any teacher of young children. When pencils aren’t eaten, chewed, or erasers bitten off they have completely disappeared. I’ve even found an eraser in an ear! I’d love to continue, but I’ve pencils to sharpen….

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