Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Pet Peeves

I've cherry-picked a few topics from various versions of the 30-Day Writing Challenge which I thought I could make interesting enough to share with you, and here's the latest one: "What Are Three of Your Pet Peeves?"

The real challenge is limiting it to only three, since as I've grown older I've found more and more things that irritate me. After considerable thought and introspection, I've come up with these three:

1. Telemarketers. I guess I should be glad that they actually have jobs, but they drive me crazy*. There are three things in particular that get me red in the face:

1a. Telemarketing calls (including charity solicitations) that come in after 8:00 PM. Not everyone goes to bed as early as we do, but common courtesy would tell you not to make an unsolicited call after that time. We often get calls as late as 8:45 PM, which is outrageous.

1b. Any caller who addresses me right off the bat as "William." Yes, it's my name. Yes, it's a good name that I shared with my father. But anyone who is making a cold call and starts off calling me William is, first of all, assuming an undeserved and ungranted familiarity, and second, is obviously someone who does not know enough about me to know that nobody ever calls me by that name. Common courtesy suggests that a solicitation call ought to be polite, starting with something like, "Good evening, this is Joe Blow calling from Blah Blah; may I speak with Mr Bilbo, please?" Unfortunately, the average  telemarketer does not appear to have been instructed in telephone courtesy. When I answer the phone and someone says, "Can I talk to William?", my automatic response is "This is Mr Bilbo speaking, and who is this, please?" This is usually followed by a pregnant pause, which is followed by the traditional recitation of the script, followed by my hanging up the phone.

1c. Any call that begins with "Is William there?" in a booming, commanding voice. Long experience shows that these calls are from the local police benevolent association, and will usually end with a phrase like, "Can we count on you to help out your local police officers?" There are two problems with this one ... first, see 1b above. Second, booming a request for contributions in the commanding voice that police officers and military officers and NCOs are taught to use, even for an otherwise worthy charity, automatically triggers my who-the-hell-are-you-to-talk-to-me-that-way reaction, and guarantees either a polite refusal or a simple hang-up.

2. Rudeness. My parents were the most polite and courteous of people, and tried to pass that attitude on to us. Unfortunately, many people nowadays seem to think that politeness and courtesy aren't necessary, and are even undesirable because they don't build "street cred" or demonstrate a properly aggressive or dominating attitude. These people are idiots. My own evolved philosophy of personal conduct is to be polite and pleasant to everyone until they demonstrate that it's not reciprocated ... at that point, I can be just as much of a jerk as anyone. Well, except perhaps Donald Trump or Kanye West.

3. Single-Issue Crazies. If the only thing you care about is your right to unlimited armament, or your opposition to abortion, or the fundamental wrongness of Obamacare, or whatever, please shut up. The world's problems are not solved by a laser focus on symptoms rather than causes. I've written at least twice (here and here) on the need to address our various problems as parts of an interconnected whole. The analogies I like to use are the old children's song about "the knee bone's connected to the thigh bone/the thigh bone's connected to the hip bone," and the visual image of a partially-inflated balloon that bulges out in different places depending on where and how strongly you squeeze it. One of my long-term projects is a very large chart (growing by the day) that tries to show how all the various problems we have in the world are interconnected ... my grand idea is that by showing this interconnectedness**, we can try to think in terms of solutions that address common causes rather than symptoms. If you're interested in seeing a copy of my work-in-progress, e-mail me with a return e-mail address and I'll send you a copy (pdf or MS-Word doc) for your review and comment.

So, Dear Readers, those are my three pet peeves for today. Do you have one or two to share? Leave a comment so I'll know what not to do when we eventually meet in person.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* According to Agnes, that's not a drive ... it's just a short putt.

** Is this a word? I think I could get about 250 points for it in Scrabble.


Gonzo Dave said...

Robocalls. 'Nuff said.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Mr. Bilbo, I deal with rudeness all day. Some days it just makes me so much nicer. Some days it's a good thing I don't believe in owning weapons. On a good note, Home Depot just gave me a $100 break because I was being so nice about an order delay and the man said, "You are being so kind to me that I would like to offer you $100 off the cost when it does arrive." See? Being polite can be rewarded.