Sometimes I know ahead of time what I am going to write about in these weekly blog posts. Other times I struggle to find a topic, and find myself still searching as the time to write gets closer. That is what happened today. I had to come up with something, and ‘”out came this calf”‘ (as Aaron said in a different context, Exodus 32:24).
Today’s topic is one I have thought about for some time. I have been kind of avoiding writing about it only because I know it stands the chance of annoying the socks off of people I know. I don’t enjoy having people angry with me. On the bright side, few people read these posts, so maybe all of the people I might annoy will never read it.
But if other people get annoyed with me, it will become clear from today’s post that I in turn can be annoyed. Today I will list things that I find annoying. But these are all petty annoyances. I won’t even think about starting to name all the things that annoy me in a major way. Surely those show up enough in my other posts.
In a few minutes I came up with 15 petty things I find annoying. I will begin with things that most people never think about, and proceed to more important matters. Near the end, quite a few of things I write about have some sort of importance for society at large.
1/Scoreboards that begin the game with double zeroes in the place where points go: Visitors 00 Home 00. That looks horrible. Then when a team scores two points, do we then have 00 and 02? Confusing. Either nothing at all, or one zero for each team, are both logical and reasonable ways to start the game. This petty annoyance is one I probably never would have thought of by myself. Thankfully, a friend capable of being just as annoyed by petty things as I am, alerted me to the problem. It encourages me to know that other people also can be annoyed by petty things.
2/Having to push a button to get a receipt. At Dollar Tree, for example, if I want a receipt, I now have to push a button. A waste of my time. Of course I want a receipt. Wouldn’t it just be better to print out a receipt for every customer, saving time for customer and cashier both? That used to be automatic. It worked fine. Why introduce this inquisition about whether or not I want a receipt? Please understand: I love Dollar Tree. It is a fantastic place to shop, and I have even purchased stock in the company. But please stop making me push a button in order to get a receipt. Such a policy is unworthy of your greatness.
3/Putting an extra three minutes on the halftime clock. This happens constantly at high school football and basketball games. The football team has 15 minutes for halftime. That is quite reasonable. But when teams are slow to get back on the field, the scorekeeper quite often adds an additional three minutes on the clock. Basketball halftimes are ten minutes. Again, the scorekeeper will sometimes add an additional three minutes. This is annoying. I want to get home at a reasonable hour. I have to get up early tomorrow in order to squeeze in my exercising before I go to work. Some people may be due to work the second shift somewhere. People have children they want to get to bed as soon as possible. The weather we are sitting in (football) may not be very pleasant. Bladders are put under more pressure. There are plenty of reasons to just stick to the legitimate number of halftime minutes.
4/The cartoon “Fort Knox” by Jon Paul. I hope Mr. Paul never sees this comment. I hate to criticize him. But his cartoon is never funny. It is intended to be funny, but is not. I am a struggling artist myself, struggling to get readers, struggling to sell books, struggling, struggling, struggling. I know it is not easy to produce something people want to read. But after a while Mr. Paul should see the writing on the wall: he is not intended to be a cartoonist. It is not possible that more than two or three people in the world can find this comic strip to be funny. Mr. Paul does not have any sort of sense of humor. Mr. Paul almost certainly has gifts along another line or lines. I encourage him to search for those gifts and develop them. Still, if people are actually paying him to continue to publish his strip, I can see why he would be loath to retire from cartooning. (I do understand the Mr. Paul or other people might say the same thing to me: read the handwriting on the wall about your abilities, and find another line of work.)
5/Listing actresses as actors. This is very new, having cropped up in the last few years. Apparently it is some sort of insult to a female who does acting, to call her an actress. But it is not an insult at all, and was never intended by anyone to be an insult. A male who acts is an actor. A female who acts is an actress. To call her an actor is to introduce confusion. On the other hand, if we would continue to call actresses actresses, we avoid that confusion.
6/Two last names. Sorry, this is not playing fair. Everyone gets one last name, not two. I can be Carl Wells, but if I suddenly become Carl Wells-Abercrombie, I am cheating. If I then marry Sally Overshiner-Huddleston, will our first child Elly become Elly Wells-Abercrombie-Overshiner-Huddleston, or Elly Overshiner-Huddleston-Wells-Abercrombie? What if Elly goes on to become a gifted basketball player? Is the announcer supposed to call her by four last names or by two last names, or (heaven forfend) by one last name? If by one, which one? No, this is nonsense. Everyone gets one last name, but one only.
7/Tattoos. The Bible tells us that we are not to make any tattoo marks on ourselves (Leviticus 19:28). That is good enough for me. I do understand that at least one celebrity Christian writer thinks that to interpret this verse as really telling us we should not get tattoos, is unsophisticated. Fine, and who knows, maybe he is correct (although personally I doubt that he is), but I will continue to think it is foolish to get a tattoo. Do we have to follow every fad that comes along, in order to be cool and with it? That lets me out, since I have a natural aptitude for being uncool and un-with it.
8/Earrings. I don’t even like earrings on women. I have yet to see a woman whose looks were improved by wearing earrings. But especially on men, earrings are ridiculous. Do we have to follow every fad that comes along, in order to be cool and with it? (Is there an echo in here?)
9/Women who keep their own last name when they get married. If you don’t think enough of the guy to want to take his last name when you get married, don’t marry him. You don’t give up your individuality when you take your husband’s last name. You are still an individual. But the two of you are now one separate family, under the headship of the husband. Did Elizabeth Stevenson give up her individuality when she took her husband’s name? No, she managed to become one of the better writers in world history, under the name Mrs. Gaskell. Her husband is forgotten, but she is not. She did it without hanging on to her maiden name. She was just as much herself as Elizabeth Gaskell as she would have been as Elizabeth Stevenson.
10/Newspapers are doing an increasingly poor job at giving us line scores and box scores of both varsity and junior varsity basketball games. We used to get quarter scores, and a decent summary of the scoring, sometimes with other information as well, in a box score, for varsity games. JV games at least rated a line score, with at least the scoring for the local team. All this information is of considerable value to the fan who cares about the games. But newspapers give us less and less of what we want. And then newspapers whine that their circulation is decreasing. Really, we fans don’t expect miracles. Give us the basic information and we will be satisfied. But to tell us to get lost by ignoring our needs? Don’t be surprised if your circulation numbers continue to drop.
11/People of African heritage are Black, while white people are only white, not White. This is another question of fairness. If black people deserve a capital letter, then white people deserve a capital letter. Ask yourself this question: if the Powers That Be insisted on calling white people White while at the same time insisted on calling black people black, how do you think that would fly? Everyone would be outraged at the horrific racism involved in honoring white people and dishonoring black people. Well, the exact same principle is involved when black people are called Black and white people are called white. Where we have Black and white, we have egregious bigotry.
12/The constant use of the f-word. I am thinking not just of daily life as we all experience it, but also of books and movies. We can of course throw in all blasphemous and vulgar language, not just the f-word. All of this is annoying, and is a bad sign about our civilization.
13/Books that are censored without warning. I was reading Mark Twain’s wonderful Tom Sawyer Abroad, when suddenly I began to smell a rat. I went back to an older version of the book, and found out my instinct was correct. The publishers had taken it upon themselves to censor and change what Mark Twain had written. If they had warned their readers, fine. That would be fair play. Foolish, in my opinion, and unnecessary, but definitely fair play. But the publishers had taken it upon themselves to change the text without warning their prospective readers what was going on.
14/Scam phone calls and scam emails. Maybe I am asking too much, but it seems to me that most of this could be stopped if we had legal authorities who wanted badly enough to stop it. Is it not a matter of will? Our politicians promise us the moon, but usually deliver high taxes. A governor of a state could say, for example, “We are going to try to apprehend and punish scam artists. We may fail, but we are going to try. We will report back to you honestly about how we are doing. Please be patient and give us some time. Meanwhile, be very careful. Unfortunately, there are a lot of crooks out there.” Then do what you say you are going to do. At least try.
15/Long hair on men. 1 Corinthians 11:14 says, “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?” Again, I am sure that there are plenty of Christian authorities who say, perhaps correctly, that I am unsophisticated in my understanding of this verse. And again I say, I don’t care much. To me long hair on men looks and seems foolish. Women are the ones who are built for beauty; men are built for work. Let’s keep it that way.
Okay, that concludes my fifteen petty annoyances. I want to go on record here that if I am saved from drowning by a tattooed guy with two last names and with an earring and long hair, I will thank him with great gratitude. No doubt I will also hold on to my sense of annoyance about his personal flaws.
My Aged Parent has sometimes told me something like, “No wonder you never married,” or “It’s a good thing you never married.” No doubt she is correct.
Maybe all these annoyances are bothersome to me because I am offended that other people are more free and flexible in the way they live their lives. I’m an uptight jerk/loser. Fine. But meanwhile all I ask is that the world attend to my complaints and make the situation right by changing.