A Few Of My Least Favorite Things

AROUND THE RIM COUNTRY

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Hope springs eternal, and I am not averse to occasionally putting a positive spin on life and the things in it.

But I am a reporter and it is therefore incumbent upon me to call a spade a spade.

Henry David Thoreau put it a bit more eloquently in "Walden," his tome about his two year experiment living with only the barest essentials in a cabin at Walden Pond:

"I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world...."

While I have nothing so ambitious in mind, I do maintain a list of things that suck, and when that list reaches an appreciable length I like to "publish its meanness to the world." Gentle readers, we have reached that point, and I therefore give you my latest Top 10 List of Things That Suck:

1. Lighters, prescription bottles and other devices that have been childproofed.

We cannot protect people from their own stupidity. If parents are so dumb that society must protect their children from harmful things at the expense of everybody, then maybe those parents should simply not be allowed to perpetuate their inferior gene pools. Life is too short to punish the rest of us because some idiot shouldn't have kids.

2. Yard sales that start on Friday

Yes, we live in a retirement community, but get a clue yard sale holders -- by limiting your opening day crowd to those people who don't work for a living, you are disenfranchising a good 60 percent of your potential customer base. When I go to yard sales on Saturday (since I can't go on Friday morning) I only go to the sales that start on Saturday, knowing that all the good stuff is long gone from the Friday sales.

3. Wobbly irons

Call me naive, but it seems to me that one of the first attributes that one would want to design into an iron (right after making sure it gets good and hot) would be to make it stable when it's set down. But for some reason, the world's iron makers don't see it that way. Admittedly I am a bumbling guy, and ironing has often been categorized as "woman's work," but at least half the time when I set my iron down it tumbles over.

4. Locking the doors at one end of Wal-Mart

At a certain time each night, your local all-night Wal-Mart locks the north doors, probably for security purposes. Somehow they need to find a better way to publicize this event, because dumb people like me inevitably try to get in or out the locked door and end up having to retrace our steps four blocks to the other side of the store or parking lot. How about a giant inflatable red balloon that is raised at the locked door each night. It could even say, "These doors locked, dimwit."

5. Non-24-hour hotel rooms

I understand they have to clean the rooms for the next guest, but when I pay anywhere from $75 on up into the stratosphere for a hotel room, it would sure be nice to get it for 24 hours. It seems to me that in this day and age of computers, pinpoint scheduling could allow the maids to start with the rooms of the guests who have checked out early and get them ready for early arrivals. Then the rooms of those who want the full 24 hours could be readied later for late-arriving guests. What am I missing here?

6. Headsets that utilize just one ear

People spend thousands of dollars on sound systems that maximize the fact we were born with two ears. But just try to buy a headset for your phone that has two earpieces. They may exist, but they are few and far between.

7. Politicians and other public officials who don't understand that newspapers are supposed to scrutinize what they do.

It's the way the system works, guys. You know, checks and balances, accountability, and all that. As Bill Moyers, one of the best journalists ever, put it, "Challenging those in power is a journalist's duty." Or as Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd put it, "Attacking the press is a cheap way to throw the spotlight off a politician who is stumbling."

8. Undivided highways

A throwback to horse and buggy days, no doubt, undivided highways are pretty obsolete in a world where people routinely drive at least 65. Cheaper to build: certainly. A dumb idea these days: absolutely. What's the going price for a life, anyway?

9. Water wasters

From utility companies that don't encourage conservation right down to the moron who thinks home-grown tomatoes, lush lawns and pansies are a god-given right in the middle of a desert during a drought of undetermined length. And don't even get me started on people who leave the water running while they brush their teeth.

10. CD case packaging

Somebody once told me CD packages are made virtually unopenable to deter shoplifters. The logic escapes me. In fact, I can't think of a single logical reason to make the lowly CD the most difficult thing to get into on the entire planet (except maybe that childproof prescription bottle).

And those are a few of my least favorite things.

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