This nation is so divided politically and culturally that we are seeing people who believe and act differently from us as enemies.
Not only is that unwise, unkind and un-useful (is that a word?), but it distracts us from the true enemies: people and things that actually provide day-to-day irritations, expenses and even out-right dangers to us.
Here’s my list. You probably have your own.
- Produce bags in the grocery store. Specifically designed to frustrate and enrage those of us who don’t have fingers like tweezers. Half of the profanity you hear in a Vons or Ralphs come from shoppers muttering angrily while trying to peel open the bag while juggling nectarines, some of which end up on the floor.
- Power Point presentations. In the military they have an acronym for this: DBPP. It stands for “Death by Power Point.” It means a long, dry, achingly repetitive “briefing” or “update” or other time-waster, usually by someone who is terrified of public speaking (or simply bad at it) and leans too heavily on Microsoft’s most egregious cruel and far-too-usual punishment. It can be even worse when the speaker is simply reading off the screen and the handout. This is 30 minutes (which feels like 90 minutes) of your finite life you will never get back again.
- Drive-through hogs. You’re in the line at Starbucks or Wendy’s and there’s just one car ahead of you. But it turns out to be false hope. The lad or lady driving that vehicle will ask 11 questions, order 14 different items, change his or her mind, ask everyone else in the vehicle for their orders (which, inevitably leads to an orgy of indecision) and then try to pay for the food/drink etc. with a coupon for tire rotation. Whoops! All this rigmarole is so taxing to the employees that when it’s finally your turn, you get hot sauce on your fries or kiwi juice in your Frappuccino.
- Turn-signal terrors: A few years back, a lot of cities installed cameras in response to an epidemic of folks blasting right through red lights. It’s time to address another threat to public safety: the non-use or overuse of electronic turn signals. Half the people – it seems – on the road don’t use them when changing lanes or making a turn. A lot of the other half activate the signal and then forget about them as their car goes blinking down the freeway from Los Alamitos to San Clemente. You end up giving them a wide berth since you have no idea what they’re doing, and end up missing your off-ramp.
- A new leash for life: Along with not throwing their trash in a bin or smoking outside your kids’ pre-school front door, the latest round of “I don’t have to obey any rules” concerns dogs off their leases. Big dogs, little dogs, sweet Goldens and slobbering pit bulls are roaming our parks, 50 or 60 yards ahead of their “masters,” who are probably absorbed in a cell phone conversation, oblivious to what Sunny or Ripper are up to. You end up yanking your pooch back to break up a canine MMA match, while the owner casually strolls up and says, “Oh, he/she never does that.” That’s why you have a leash, you honyocker!
Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” column is posted on alternate weeks, rotating with “Usually Reliable Sources.”