Thursday, October 24, 2019


            I decided, for this blog, to combine readers’ responses to Pet Peeves and Small Acts of Kindness. These may be two sides of the same coin, or there may be two coins involved. What many of the entries have in common is our desire to be seen and acknowledged as human beings. For example, when I pause in my car for a pedestrian at a crosswalk, his wave of thanks for not running him over acknowledges my humanity. I wave back. 

Pet Peeves

My pet peeve is that my dog absolutely adores my wife and barely tolerates my presence. 😎

Others include "twisty things" that are put on everything from bread loaves to  tech accessories, and plastic packaging like used on razor blades that you need a skill saw to open, but the worst and most annoying are robo calls from nearly everyone, including posers allegedly from the social security administration who announce that my number has been tagged for a fraudulent transaction and if I don’t call back I will be arrested within 24 hours. I've gotten that call about 6 times but I have yet to be arrested.   

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I have two, and one is absolutely the phone tree situation ... if I ever go insane and kill someone, it'll be over the phone tree that doesn't have the option I need - or when suddenly after 13 minutes on hold the call just drops.

The other is the "no problem" in a restaurant when I say thank you to the (can I say "millennial"?) server for something.  I know I sound like I'm 98 years old, but a "you're welcome" now and then would bring me to tears of gratitude.

[The writer had another great one, but she forbid me to repeat it. If you know her, ask her.]

No wait - there's one more...when people mob the elevator that I and 6 other people are trying to get off of.  I always want to say, "Your mother would be so disappointed in you today..." but I'm far too polite.

So -  there you go, and hey---it was no problem!

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Glop on insides of windshields that defies removal.  Our 2017 Chevy Volt is a heck of a lot better than my first car, a used 1956 Chevy Bel Aire.  So, way to go GM: in 60 years your products became "better."  But..... As the car sits facing the hot sun, "something" seems to emit from something in the car and coat the inside of the windshield with a film that is annoying but not necessarily lethal, to health or driving.  At sunrise or sunset, however, if you are driving directly into the sun, that film makes your windshield close to opaque.  At anything over 5 mph, that "annoying" film transforms to potentially lethal.  Like you can't see the edge of the road, any pedestrian or bicycle on the shoulder, or any oncoming car.  Then you try to wipe or wash the film off, but the best I've been able to do is a smudge, somewhat more transparent.  To boot, the angle of the windshield is such that you can't reach the lower edges of the glass.  Or at least this 77-year old can't reach the lower edge.  The only true remedy we've found is don't drive directly into the sun, ever.

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Top of my list would be phone trees.  I just navigated one the other day vis a vis the California DMV, part of license renewal drill.  I was trying to select an office appointment time in Jan.  Took a LOOOONG time to step through the choices, with frequent backtracking because the *&#$%@ robot couldn’t understand my voice answers (no keypad option there) despite my herculean efforts to speak slowly, with extra enunciation, etc.  Eventually I got to the step of choosing a date only to hear that my desired January dates are more than 90 days hence, thus not yet in the appointment system.  Thanks so much for this info!!!  It doesn’t appear on the DMV website that advises making an appointment, nor in the prior steps in the phone tree.

As for windshield film, I’m in the same club.  Thanks to xxxxx for outing the cause of it.  Nothing keeps the film at bay indefinitely, but a moderate solution of household ammonia in water works tolerably well for me, somewhat better and longer-lasting than products like Windex.  As for reaching the lower edge of the slanted windshield, I think it’s all a plot by automakers to force us ancients into some physical exertion to do this.  Just try to avoid dislocated elbows and shoulders as best you can.

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Your for you’re; me and her went wherever they went, instead of she and I; send a email instead of send an email. Sports announcers. I think it’s because I had Mrs. Custerari as an English teacher in high school. I knew I forgot one of the worst ones...not go lay down, but go lie down!!! Eeeks! Like fingernails on a chalkboard!! 

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I wonder what responses you will get to your call for people's pet peeves.  I expect robo calls would be mentioned by several and put me among them.  I especially dislike the ones that come at 6 p.m. when we are having dinner.  I would love to know if it is worthwhile or possibly dangerous to push the button to be put on the do-not-call list.

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This happens in restaurants. When you take a break from eating, and the server wants to take your plate away. When the server plunks the bill on the table, and says, ”No hurry, take your time.” A waiter’s response when you ask for something, or thank the person for something, “no problem.” Many of my pet peeves take place in restaurants. I think there’s a direct correlation with pet peeves and age.

Our mailman, who probably should retire, delivers our neighbor’s mail to us on a regular basis, and our mail to who knows where. Maybe, he just needs new glasses.

Fliers on our doorknob even when we had a sign up. I took the sign down. Now we get fewer fliers.

Small Acts of Kindness

Outside the door of an academic building, earlier this week, I was ready to enter against the flux of outgoing students.  Starting to nudge slowly through the door, a face caught my eye.  A tall, young African man was facing me from three feet away, waiting patiently.  He gave a happy smile.  His hands, palms and fingers together, were just below his chin, and his elbows pressed on his belly, as in prayer.  I don't know why he was giving this blessing.  It warmed my day.

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Now that I am a hospice nurse, I am treated, in hospital elevators and sometimes the hallways to the treatment soldiers in uniforms get, now that it's become proper to thank a soldier for his/her service.  I know it wasn't always that way, but I see, now that my son is in the USAF, that people are thankful and go out of the way to extend their appreciation.
Anyway, so there I go in my hospice lab coat, and at least 2-4 times every day, I am thanked, sometimes with tears, "for the work you do", and "we couldn't have managed without you" and other similar statements.  I just never knew how much hospice care meant to people.  I can't remember EVER being thanked out in public when I was just a regular nurse.  But people open up to the hospice nurse if they've "been there" with someone they loved, and it's obviously brings up very powerful memories for some of them.
I somehow thought I'd get more of the reaction I got from my previous colleagues and physicians when I told them where I was going - "Oh God - seriously?!  How can you want to do THAT?!" with a look of horror on their faces.  So that's more along the line of what I was expecting to hear.
And this reaction from total strangers has been very moving for me...makes me appreciate the task much more deeply of helping people in such a terribly difficult time.  Makes me try harder, give more, and stay a little bit longer than I have to.

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Something that touched my heart yesterday and also made me smile: I was at a BART station, and a small boy, maybe about 10, got on at the same station I did.  About 10 minutes earlier I'd seen him as he departed his school for the day, and, like most kids, he was half paying attention to his phone and maybe the other half to the world.  We left the train at the same station, and he was slightly ahead of me.  As we headed to the escalator, a woman of 50- or 60-something was also approaching, and she had a hard time walking.  It was clear her cane was needed.  The boy gestured for her to proceed in front of him, but she said no, go ahead.  The boy then again said she should go first, and she did.  I was right behind the boy on the escalator.  On the way down, she turned to him and thanked him, and she said she wanted to tell his mother what a fine boy he was.  A small thing, but I just thought it was wonderful, and it made my day.  Or at least it made my day until I tuned into Rachel Maddow that evening, and reality came roaring back.  A small kindness from both the boy and the woman.

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·      Making cards with my photos and sending them to friends on different occasions
·      Calling friends who live alone, are sick. Calling family members
·      Making chicken soup for sick friends/family
·      Picking up garbage on the street.
·      Watering my disabled neighbor's plants
·      Bringing flowers that I arranged/grew to friends/relatives
·      Cooking a friend/ relative's favorite food
·      Giving a photo I made to a friend/relative
·      Giving a large sum of money to help a friend with medical expenses, buy a car or hire a lawyer for a former student's son who was charged with statutory rape. He got probation for a year

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When I shop at Aldi, where they have you pack your groceries in your own bags, I always purchase several bags that they sell and leave them for others to use. 

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·       put a quarter into an expired meter to avoid a parking ticket
·       bring in the empty trash cans for a neighbor who’s on travel or sick
·       pick up and return a neighbor’s dog who’s wandered away, avoid dogcatcher
·       hold a door open for anyone
·       say thank you when someone holds the door for you
·       hug a friend who you see/sense is depressed or worried
·       smile at everyone you meet or pass; i.e. just smile as often as possible
·       most people will smile back and a smile makes people feel good
·       say yes, when someone asks for help or a favor
·       give more compliments, offer encouragement whenever possible
·       talk to a stranger who’s waiting on line with you

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I have always felt a KIND SMILE of “I see you” can brighten anyone up... As the world turns today...people do not even notice anymore or are even annoyed....Seriously.....BUT IT IS A MUST to keep it going....

            This last example makes my point: We want to be acknowledged as human beings. Sometimes a kind smile is all it takes. Hard for a robo call or phone tree to do that . . ..

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