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“Pet Peeves”

I remember that when I was starting junior high school, the school paper sometimes had a column, “Pet Peeves.” I don’t remember what was in there, and it didn’t run very long. Maybe things like people not throwing their trash in the baskets, or running too fast down the halls. Maybe more general things. I remembered the column, though, and of course the phrase was not original, it seemed to be from that general period.

There are all sorts of things which I might put into that category. I think most people have those. One shouldn’t let oneself get too angry at them, because they are just part of the way things are. (But they shouldn’t be!) And technology, with its concomitant lessening of personal treatment and individuality, has accentuated this. So I could probably write a book on them, except that by the time the book came out, there would be other ones. I will just indulge myself a bit by listing a few, some of which you might find amusing, or sympathize with.

Companies which have sought to save money by having voice mail systems installed, the goal of which is to avoid having to hire people to answer the calls, and so route the caller to the internet, or frustration and hanging up You have a question about a bill, or how to handle some matter with the company; and whereas at one time in the past, you would get an actual person who might try to help, now you get the inevitable recording, which is usually probably what they call a bot.

This recording of a real person or a bot, tries to get you to push other buttons; which if you do, will tell you to push other buttons. You are very lucky if you actually reach someone. And of course the question you had cannot be answered by the bot, because if it could, you wouldn’t be calling. So what could have been a ten-minute call turns into a half hour of pushing buttons, listening to stupid music play over and over, interspersed with ads for the company. “Did you know, that you can…?” “Have you tried our….?” For the sake of fairness, since they all do it, I will not mention the names of places which give me the choice of hanging up, or listening to fifteen minutes of ads before someone might answer, or you hang up anyway.

Large corporations’ endless search for more money, leading to them taking over the rights to various broadcasts, and forcing people to pay for them. For example, people had been able to watch Thursday Night NFL football on television. One had to have a cable package; mine is $145 a month, as it goes up every year, even though I really do not watch that much TV besides news and sports and TCM, and the station which shows noir films twice a week. But just to get TCM, I have to have the package which includes dozens of stations which I don’t want. The cable network, and they are a monopoly in any locale, knows what people like to watch, so they bundle those few stations with other ones, forcing someone who likes TCM to add $50 or so to the bill just to get it.

But the network which used to show the Thursday games, this year does not; it is now the property of Amazon Prime, which one has to join to see any of the games. Also, various Dodgers baseball games are now farmed to Apple TV. Some games are farmed to YouTube networks. The end result is what was predicted decades ago, that the consumer is going to be charged for virtually every program he wants to see. Squeeze them out of every cent, boys!

Rap music. Somehow someone decided that rap music must be played at intros to every game shown on TV. I do not like rap music at all, I don’t even think it is music, more like some kind of haranguing with a loud beat behind it. Yes, I know that some people love rap music, and that there is a cultural component, but it has become like a ritual; they have to play rap on the intros. I won’t mention the people who have their car windows open, their radios turned up as high as possible, blasting rap music out to anyone stuck at the light next to them.

Commercials in general, proliferating at an astronomical rate. I might write a whole essay on that sometime, but perhaps no more needs to be said, though the techniques of advertisers are interesting, if insidious in many cases.

The concept of “Influencers,” paid large sums to try to convince others to do what the payers want them to do.

The rapid decline in literate writing, particularly online. Oh, one does not expect great writing, but at least try to know what the words mean. Try to find more words than “hilarious,” “gonna,” “kinda,” “it’s genius.”Sometimes I think that they have a list of about thirty words, and thus must use them over and over.

“Race counting,” where almost nothing can be shown without some people adding up all the people of various races who are in it, and complaining. Diversity is a necessary value, but art is ruined or at least diluted when the focus is not on the story or dialogue, but about how diverse the cast is.

“No sauce, please.” I do not like sauce on foods, unless it is a light butter sauce, perhaps. Many do, which of course is fine. But try to tell someone at a restaurant, particularly if you are taking out a meal, not to put sauce on it or in the package. I emphasize it, in a polite way, and the person taking the order nods and repeats it–and inevitably the bag is filled with packets of sauces, some of which drip out. One has to look at everything before taking it, or else you are sure to find sauces in there. A corollary: do any of you like your hamburgers plain and dry? I do. I learned from a food server that you should say “plain and dry,” or else it doesn’t work. So I do it, but then they ask me, do I want this or that on it? I say no. Then they ask if I want this or that other thing. I say, ”No!” in a polite manner. And then sometimes they put it in anyway.

Well, those are just a few of my “pet peeves.” Do you have any to add to the list?