December 30th, 2010
By Tom Carter
What irritates you the most? Some things bother us more than others, and somewhere in the backs of our minds we all have a list of them. Driving from Budapest to Belgrade the other day, I was thinking about the things that most seriously burn my butt (other than a fire about so high).
So here’s my list of things that irritate me the most. They’re not in priority; any one of them can make the top of the list on any given day. And you’ll notice that I don’t include conquest, war, famine, and death. There are already four horsemen to handle those calamities. Likewise, I don’t list hurricanes, tornadoes, solar storms, melting icecaps, shrinking polar bear habitats, and global warming enthusiasts. Al Gore and his fellow travelers have all that taken care of. Also missing are politicians of all stripes; like bad weather, they’re just there. No, these are the common things that bug me the most and don’t have to happen.
- Stores that slap unremovable, absolutely indestructible price stickers on products I buy. Whether it’s a book or a plastic container, these evil stickers can be pulled, picked, and worried until kingdom come, but at best you’re going to get a lasting residue of glue, often forever sticky, and a damaged surface. I guess you can leave them on the product, but that’s impossible. I can’t sleep if I know there’s a price label on the back of a book somewhere in my home.
- Movies, TV shows, and books that play fast and loose with facts, particularly if it’s related to history or technology. How can you take anything in a program seriously after you hear the serious-voiced narrator declare that Allied troops left Berlin to the Soviets because of Eisenhower’s American chauvinism, which couldn’t permit Montgomery and the Brits to get there first (an actual History Channel “documentary”)? Or after you hear an airplane cleared to land on runway 37 (there is no such thing)? Sometimes it’s left-wing or right-wing propaganda, and sometimes it’s plain ignorance.
- Chain e-mails, particularly those with a political slant. This scourge is more often than not generated by right-wingers, and many contain absurd conspiracy theories. They misquote and distort facts, falsely attribute inane ideas to serious people, and invent false realities. One acquaintance refused to stop sending them to me (along with many other people) until I finally blocked messages from him. In this case, after I had de-bunked a few of the more ridiculous messages, he started proudly stating at the top of each one that it hadn’t been fact-checked.
- People with “Support Our Troops” stickers and emblems on their cars, particularly when there’s more than one. Very few of them have relatives in the military or even know a soldier, and they wouldn’t dream of risking their soft, fat asses in the service of their country.
- Public displays of affection, beyond a certain point. For example, a guy in heavy traffic in front of me yesterday was more interested in snuggling and smooching the girl sitting next to him than in driving. As traffic would slowly begin to creep forward, he just kept snuggling, then after a four or five car-lengths gap opened in front of him, he would finally move forward. Once, in his excitement, he stalled his car, leaving a huge gap in front of us. I don’t know where the snugglee’s hand was; maybe that was the problem. Get a room, for God’s sake!
- Special pleadings for benefits and advantages by people (or by others on their behalf) based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, or any of another in a long list that includes just about everyone except straight white males who work for a living. Where is Dr. King when we need him? He said that we should all be judged not by the color of our skin but the content of our character, and I couldn’t agree more, except to add all those other special categories and classes to skin color. How about let’s just treat everyone as an individual?
- Bigotry, which is synonymous with ignorance. For example, I was having dinner with a group one night on a riverboat casino on the Mississippi River in Natchez. Some were relatives, others were friends of theirs. I was the lone out-of-town curiosity. The fellow sitting across from me, apropos of nothing, looked at me and announced, “You know, them Jews in Germany, they brung it on theirselves.” I don’t know what he expected — agreement, argument…. Since I couldn’t inject a lifetime of missing education into his low-IQ skull, I just ignored him. (I don’t mean to imply that all Mississippians are ignorant; I lived there as a teenager, and I knew a few who weren’t.)
- Political bigotry, which is a special kind of ignorance that even affects people who are otherwise intelligent. They believe in a list of approved issue positions; if they’re committed leftists, rightists, or libertarians, then you pretty much know what they think on just about everything. That includes their opinions on Bush and Obama, including everything these two ever did, thought, or imagined. Some of these people are so ignorant they can’t even explain their positions; others are well-educated bigots who are beyond help.
- Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Until recent cast changes, this should have been titled The Vincent D’Onofrio Show, with a few other people. Don’t get me wrong; Ol’ Vince is a good actor — witness Full Metal Jacket and the 1998 TV version of The Taking of Pelham 123. It’s just that the powers behind CI seemed to have intentionally let every weird quirk of his personality roam free, and it pretty much sucked. Now, of course, they’ve given us Jeff Goldblum, who acts like one of the stiffer bit-player vampires in From Dusk to Dawn. As a devotee of the Law and Order genre, I take this personally.
- Tattoos, piercings (including all regions of the body except ears, and that’s a limited exception), public display of butt cracks, backward baseball caps, baggy pants hanging off one’s ass, and rapper sneers (even if they’re on the faces of trust fund babies from Phillips Academy). Include hip-hop music, which isn’t music and represents the most egregious expression of anti-social ignorance that ever existed. Aside from that, I don’t like it.
- Muslims, except the ones who don’t murder people and blow up things and don’t support the ones who do.
- Lawyers, except the ones I know personally.
- Teenagers, except a few of the ones I know personally.
I can add more irritants to the list; check with me tomorrow. And feel free to add your favorites or your complete list in comments.
Articles written by Tom Carter
Tags: irritants, irritation, list
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