Friday, July 9, 2010

It's the Little Things

You are involved in a situation requiring some concentration and some fairly simple actions. As you begin the task and proceed, suddenly something completely vexing and unexpected catches you off guard and causes immediate frustration because a supposedly easy part of your work goes awry. People doing projects always incur these little inconveniences that seem to turn simple duties into major difficulties.

Here are a few of my favorites:

1. You are preparing food and can't open the package. I know, you're going to say, "Why not merely get a knife and cut the package open?" Because I don't want too! I want to rip the package open like any hungry human animal and go about my business. And, I know the sealing process is for my safety, but I don't expect to take time to wrench and cut my way into something that is probably potentially bad for me anyway. In my mind, I must open the package with no assistance or be a wimp.

2. You are repairing something that requires very little assembly, but the nuts and bolts (and other essential parts) are too small to hold in your fingers. Yes, I'm sure the device was probably made by companies in countries that employ smaller workers using special tools, but I usually drop about ten of the dozen nuts out of utter frustration, and I usually cross thread the two remaining. Here's a new idea for manufacturers - use bigger parts, especially for us older people who can't see well. I know you don't want us monkeying around with your products but make it easier for us to try.

3. You are in a quiet crowd listening intently to someone or some thing and unexectedly someone else gets a call that features an irritating ring tone. These tones range from the slightly amusing to the blatantly offensive and always seem to surprise the person receiving the call. And disrespect does not merely stop with tones, but with private conversations made public also. I don't care to know who is dating Angie, or what is on tv or the answer to "What cha doin'?" Recently, I saw Congress text-messaging by the dozens during the President's State of the Union Address. This is some kind of pitiful attention setting behavior.

4. You are in the supermarket in what you considered to be the shortest line (which turned into an all-day marathon after the cashier had called for five price checks, corrected two receipt errors, and had endured checking out an older lady customer who had paid for her cartload with spare change saved over the last two years) and as you begin to unload your carefully selected, price-saving store brands, you notice the man in front of you has chosen all of the pricey name brand staples and is paying with food stamps.

5. You pull up to the carry-out fast food window after placing your order three times over an intercom system that has just been installed by Alexander Graham Bell, and you open your bag to be sure the right contents have been included only to discover your cheeseburgers are hamburgers, your large fries are small, and your chicken pieces solo order has been changed into the dreaded combo that you have refused over and over at the intercom.

6. You pull into the gas station, walk inside to prepay for the pump, ask the attendant for a window towel (which they ran out of in 2003 and haven't reordered), pay for the gasoline (nearly enough cash for a nice down payment on a new home), do not receive the magic words of "thank you," and use the nasty bathroom featuring no soap, no towel, and no spot in the room you feel safe even touching. 

7. You walk into Walmart, the only local so-called department store in town, after barely escaping with your life from the parking lot full of maniac drivers bent on running over anyone who might beat them to a parking spot closer to the almighty entrance to the store. After the traditional greeting by the Walmart Man or Walmart Lady, you are attacked by a menagerie of aliens in all sizes and shapes careening around the store with baskarts, both motorized and foot propelled, madly seeking any product they have ever seen advertised on tv. Children run the aisles as mothers scream obscenities and threaten "ass whoopin's," old Alzheimer patients lost for years wander the food section, and families who have decided to make this Wally World trip their weekly family entertainment gather in conclaves for snacks and local gossip.

8. You enter a Karaoke bar figuring the entertainment might be both entertaining and fun. One of two things inevitably happen. Either a comical facsimile of a singer leads the cast of performers, does an extraordinarily weak performance, but is encouraged by a great round of applause because the act has been funny. Or, a gifted singer takes the microphone first and sings very well. The obvious talent gets a warm round of applause because the singing has been awesome. Either way, both of these people want to sing thirty more songs because of the obvious audience approval and apparent boost to their egos. Very few others sing, and the evening is monopolized by one or both people at the ends of the spectrum of talent. Ho-hum - give me a DJ and variety.

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