Last week a friend asked me if I have any pet peeves. No, I said, not really. Then I got to thinking about it. I know this makes me sound like an Old Guy, but so be it:
Packaging: I was struggling to open a package of bacon, but the plastic would not peel apart. Maybe it’s just another example of Me Getting Older, but I find myself in more and more frequent battles with plastic packaging. Especially difficult/annoying are those labeled with something like “E-Z Open.” Part of the blame goes back to the S.O.B. who tampered with Tylenol containers, but it’s hard not to blame the plastic itself. Nobody would ever tamper with bacon in order to make it unhealthy. I’m glad CDs are no longer sold so I don’t have to wrestle with them any more.
It’s not always the packaging. Our daughter, Genne’, knows a lot about wine. She recently reported on a long and frustrating struggle with a corkscrew before she realized that the wine bottle had a hidden screw-off cap. No doubt a lot of my struggles are similar.
Smoke Alarms: I know, I know – we have to have them, they save lives, etc., etc. And we need to have battery back-ups, and we need to change the batteries once a year, etc., etc. But still, sometimes the batteries do need replacing, and the smoke alarm always decides to tell us about it at 2 a.m. Most recently it was the alarm located at the highest point in our bedroom, the one reachable by the extension ladder in the garage. That one stopped chirping after 20 minutes, during 5 of which it announced that we were on fire, but its cousin out in the hall took up the cry, accompanied by a voice that said, “dead battery.” Kim and I decided to sleep in the guest bed in the basement.
The next day I replaced all the batteries. Most of the alarms had 9-volt batteries, and I was feeling fairly competent as I clicked them into place. Two alarms, however, had two AA batteries, but when I replaced them, the chirping and dead battery alerts continued. I tried every possible battery orientation, and then I bought a new set of batteries in case my replacements were also dead. No help. I called the electrician who had installed the alarms, and he told me that those two also doubled as carbon monoxide detectors, and they frequently were defective. He told me how to unhook the alarms, warning me that they sometimes kept chirping anyway, that his guys would sometimes hide them in each other’s truck, so I should probably store them out in the garage. I thought of a neighbor whose porch might make a good resting place, but I went with the garage option. They were replaced a day later. I’m glad they did not come in plastic packaging. Wasn’t there a Friends episode about this?
Phone Trees: I’m not sure I have the right term here, but what I have in mind are my struggles, when attempting to call just about any kind of business, to reach an actual human being. You are forced to go through all these choices in an attempt to get help with a problem that may not fit the categories in the phone tree. I’ve learned to hit to “O” key from time to time, or to guess the choice most likely to get you in touch with a person – sometimes “sales” or perhaps, “discontinue service,” but watch out for that last one. Years ago I could pretend to have a rotary phone, but I was outed when the recording said, “If you have a rotary phone, press 2.”
Randy: We have a neighbor, let’s call him “Randy,” who has repeatedly stolen our garage sale signs, to the tune of $80. Yes, I did steal signs in my younger days, but it was cool then, right? I fondly remember stealing signs to detour traffic into the driveways of my friends. But it’s an entirely different matter when a neighbor – not a 16-year-old kid but a man in his 60s – is attempting to settle some imagined wrong we must have done him, perhaps moving into his neighborhood. He’s done it 6 times. We called the sheriff, who spoke with him (he denied it), and he stole one last sign before heading south for the winter. Good riddance. I’m peeved about the stolen signs, but mainly by knowing that people can be such assholes. Same goes for people who steal stuff from our garage sale (over $1,000 worth). (Time here for a witty remark, but I’m not there yet.) It can’t be a lot of fun to wake up every morning, full of anger, looking forward to a day of being Randy.
People Who Ask About Pet Peeves: I think I was a happier person before I was asked to pay attention to the above.
On the other hand, this Old Guy is grateful for some counterbalancing items:
Our New Neighbors: Ted and Karen, Rick and Sandy, Don and Nancy, plus some potential friends we met at our garage sale.
GPS: We’d be lost without it. And neighbors, you should be honored to be on the same level as our GPS.