Things that Annoy Me, Part 1

These are just the minor ones… in no particular order:

  1. A blank page at the end of a Word document.
  2. When the letters stop appearing on my screen and I’m still typing.
  3. People who slow down to a virtual crawl a block and a half before their right turn, and don’t use their blinker until they start making a turn. (You had to know there’d be an Iowa driver reference in here somewhere.)
  4. The constant never-ending list of small pesky things to do… check one off, two more pop up.
  5. People who leave their shopping carts in the middle of the aisle then wander off to look at something, then give me a dirty look when I move their cart.
  6. Forgetting one thing… every… single… time… I… leave… the… house.
  7. Companies that encourage you to contact them with questions and feedback, then give only the most inconvenient options for contacting them.  They don’t really want to hear from you, but they do need to appear that they do.
  8. Rewards cards where earned rewards expire quickly. “Quickly” defined as anything less than one year.
  9. Companies, i.e. cell, cable/satellite, etc, that won’t give you the time of day to negotiate a new rate, but then are your buddy offering the world when you want to leave because they wouldn’t work with you on a new rate.
  10. Gaining weight.
  11. Subscription pricing on software.
  12. The freaking plethora of passwords that I’m expected to remember. And no two places have the same requirements. Do I need a number or not? Capital letter? A symbol? And are all the symbols available across the board? We don’t know. And it’s all over-hyped, anyway.
  13. People who excuse bad behavior in others by saying, “You should have known better.”, or “You made a choice.” It’s still bad behavior and shouldn’t be encouraged or enabled.
  14. Just answer the phone… (calling customer service).
  15. Non-negotiable terms of service.

There’s gonna be a part 2.  🙂

Stop… no go… wait… what?

The downtown where I work has had some recent street reconfigurations. Things like changing one-ways to two-ways, eliminating some traffic lights in favor of 4-way stops, adding barrier arms at railroad crossings, and so on. And for the most part I think pretty much all of these are great. I think they enhance access and the flow of traffic. So, you ask, what is there to complain about on a grumpy blog?

Iowa drivers.

Yes, you people, Iowa native drivers. These improvements have been in place for well over a year. Plenty of time to adjust. And if you’re new to the area you don’t know about the old. Bottom line: No excuses.

Yet I can’t count the number of times where I almost t-boned someone who crossed my street where I didn’t have a stop sign. (There used to be one, but not anymore.) This happened as recently as this past Monday. Then, I get down to the next street, where I do have a stop sign but the cross street does not, and TWO people, one in each direction, stop where there is no sign to do so. One of them just sat there and even waved to me to go.

😐 (<— my favorite emoji on this blog, apparently)

“Iowa nice” does not work well on the roads. Please, I implore you to be just a little aggressive (and competent). Traffic overall will flow much easier if you just do it… and pay attention to signs and stuff. I feel like a “GO” sign at some of these intersections would help greatly. Seems some people need to be told.

How to Handle a Traffic Stop

In The Grump’s never-ending quest to enlighten the masses, I am going to help y’all out and offer some suggestions on how to handle yourself when pulled over for a traffic stop.  Please keep the following in mind:  I am not a lawyer.  This is not legal advice.  This is just what I generally do, your mileage may vary, so take these with a grain of salt.

So, like I said, here’s what I do. I’ll admit it’s been hit-and-miss as far as success in avoiding a ticket. I am very testy and annoyed in situations like this, surprise!, so it takes effort on my part to keep that in check.

  1. I pull over immediately. Turn the car off, etc.
  2. I wait until requested to get my paperwork. I do not warn them where it is. I figure they made the request so they know what I’m doing.
  3. I generally do not talk, except for answering questions, and those I try to keep short and simple… and polite.
  4. I do not keep my hands on the wheel, but I do keep them in plain sight.
  5. I do not refer to the officer as “Officer”.  It’s not, “Yes/No, Officer.”, it’s, “Yes/No.”
  6. Basically, I am very polite, but I will not boot lick. (I’ve always thought if I were an officer that would annoy me. I’d think they’re just sucking up.)
  7. If they ask if I know why I was pulled over I say “No.”, even if I do know, which is usually the case.  Though one time I tried the honesty strategy and got off with a warning, so go figure.
  8. I hate Hate HATE when they ask where I’m going or where I’m coming from. It’s none of their damn business. But, I have not figured out how to not answer without annoying them, which I believe will increase the chance of them turning into a jerk, which will just make my life more difficult. I want a drama free traffic stop.  I generally know where I am so I usually give generic answers like I’m going home (if I really am pointed in that general direction), or coming from some local business behind me.  I always suspect that, “Oh, I’m just out for a random drive.”, which is something I legitimately do often, would earn me more scrutiny than is justified and more than I want.
  9. I do not argue the ticket. I wait for court to do that (don’t always take it to court, but sometimes will). One time, though, the officer asked me afterward why I didn’t argue at the time instead of wasting his time making him go to court. I just shrugged. I didn’t really have an answer and didn’t want to say I didn’t just as a matter of personal policy.
  10. I do not thank them for giving me a ticket… why would anyone do that, seriously!… but I do thank them if they let me off with a warning.

I have found that I’m let off more as I get older. I have a pretty clean driving record. I figure that must have something to do with it, but I don’t know that for sure.

Three Superpowers I Need

Life would be enhanced if I could have superpowers.  We all want superpowers, don’t we?  I mean, who wouldn’t?  My life would be greatly enhanced with superpowers.  Now, I could go for things like enact world peace, or cure cancer, or some other selfless act, but where’s the fun in that?  No, I want “revenge superpowers”.

This does preclude something like the ability to see through clothing.  I think Superman had that one, but I forget.  That has a certain… provocative allure to it.  There would be downsides, though.  You’d have to be able to pick and choose whose clothes you were ignoring.  Don’t want to see just anybody.  Plus, looking through clothing you wouldn’t be seeing people in their perfection.  The clothes would still be there, so you’d be seeing their body all stuffed in and wrinkled and unnaturally pushed here and there, not unlike a homemade sausage.  And do you really want to see the entire muffin along with the muffin top?  I’m sorry, but that doesn’t sound as appealing as one might think.

Presuming the genie would give me only three superpowers, here’s what I’d choose…

The ability to have the entire road pull over to the side while I drive where I want to, unhindered.  Readers of The Grump know that other drivers is a pet-peeve of mine.  This is numero uno.  People just need to get out of my way.  This includes police and ambulances and fire trucks.  Now, in my own magnanimous way, my superpower would include the ability to heal whoever is being transported by the ambulance, or reverse the fire the fire truck is going to.  The Grump just wants people out of his way, he doesn’t want to be a jerk about it.

The ability to disable all cell phones within a 150 foot radius of me at concerts.  The Grumpess and I went to see Alice Cooper a couple nights ago.  Truly an awesome show.  We had great seats.  The man may be 70 years old, but he can still bring it!  He even played one of my favorite songs from a semi-obscure album from 1980 that he hadn’t played live since 1982 until this leg of this tour.  It was a perfect night… except for the lady in front of me that kept raising her phone in the air, in my direct line of sight, throughout the show.  And for what, some crappy photos and videos that she will probably forget about after next week.  It was rude!  I was tempted to knock on her head and tell her to stop, but an arrest for starting a riot wasn’t exactly in The Grump’s best interests.  So now, I want the ability to disable ALL cell phones around me so that I can enjoy the show.  I don’t think that’s unreasonable at all.

The ability to remember where I put my keys, and my wallet, and my glasses… all the time.  For anyone who is getting up there in age, this is self-explanatory.  What’s that you say?  I should just designate a place and always put them there?  Bless yer heart.

There ya go.

Look, a squirrel!… and other annoyances

Is it bad to be so annoyed all the time? I mean, c’mon, is everybody else really that… brain dead? Well, yes, many are. Around me, it seems. But not all, let’s be curmudgeonly fair. I have even had my own moments of dumbness, though only a couple, and mine were completely justifiable. No jury would ever convict me.

Be that as it may, there are some irritating things in the world that need to be discussed and dealt with.

Example: Road construction. A couple things here. First, back in my day… get off my lawn!… they’d put some cones and a couple signs out, and everybody knew where to drive to stay out of causing a wreck. It wasn’t a big deal. Today, apparently we have enough non-drivers that they have to completely repaint all the lines and arrows, just to take them out later, which scars the pavement, so they can repaint them again, rinse-and-repeat, lest Goober lose his way and ram someone who did know what to do. This is not a good sign of where society is going, no pun intended.

Second, you remember my previous post where I mention the Facebook page for my hometown where all people do is complain? Basically, whenever the city does anything new and/or different, the wailing and gnashing of teeth begins. Wasting money on pet projects for friends (read: developers), blah, blah, blah. We have lots of roads that need work so spend money there (there’s one guy that I think would prefer gravel roads, he wants no money spent at all). Yet when there is construction to fix or rehabilitate a road, they complain about that, too. It’s not being managed right (as if they’re in this industry and know what they’re talking about), why did they choose that spot when this other road right in front of my house needs it more?, and my personal favorite… I had to wait. 😐 and *facepalm*. What the deuce, people, do you want the roads fixed, or not? I mean, really!

Then there’s my memory, of late. This point was going to be something completely different just 45 seconds ago, and it was going to be so poignant and cool as to be mind blowing, so much so that you’d have had an urge to give me a fist bump, and now it’s this as a back up…

Oh, wait, now I remember… why is good food labeled as bad? Don’t know what I’m talking about? Treats like chocolates and candies and the such are often labeled as “sinful”. Why is that? Are we saying that good tasting food is from the devil and that good-for-you food sucks in taste, but is righteous? Phfft, that’s no fun. Oh my God, pun intended, we might be a bad person if we actually enjoy something. (throws up hands in futility of trying to be a good person)

It should be the other way around, the good people should get the good tasting stuff AND have it be good for you. “Sinful” food should be, oh, I don’t know… castor oil. Or liver & onions. This dichotomy fits with my historical perception of the Catholic church, whose motto should be, “Life is pain. Deal with it.”

And last, but certainly not least, “Look, a squirrel!”, the phrase. Such an awesomely descriptive phrase. It explains mindless distraction perfectly. I want to reference that, along with “first world problem(s)”, all the time, but just look at it. “Look, a squirrel!” I mean, to be done properly, an exclamation point is a must, but the exclamation point gets lost next to the ‘l’. No impact. Just a plain sentence. A perfect phrase thwarted by similarities in character.

So annoyi… oh, what a cute basset meme.

Iowa Drivers, Pt 3

Back in Part 1 I talk about the driver who feels the need to come to a virtual stop to make a right turn. Today we’re going to talk about their cousin, the late signaler.

I’m cruising down the road, half a block from the next intersection. The car in front of me is slowing down to a virtual crawl. I can already see what’s going to happen, being the superior driver that I am. Slower, slower, constantly slower, almost to a stop… then they whip a hard right onto the cross street and whip on their turn signal as their hand passes the lever turning the steering wheel.

😐

Thanks, driving genius. That helped. Ya know, I never knew anything was up prior and you sure saved me from rear-ending you with that proper cautionary warning. <insert eye roll here>

Why did you even bother?

Rant: Stupidity, defended

Being from the “big city”, there are things that are just not in my mindset.  Living in a more rural state has shown me there’s much trust out there.  Trust that I was raised to reject.  One is the naive lack of awareness of one’s surroundings.  Case in point:  In the winter people will leave their cars running and unattended while they go in the store.  It’s only a few minutes, right?  (They also openly count their money while still standing at the ATM, which drives my sister crazy.)

Where I come from your car would be gone in a heartbeat.  And guess what… it happens here, too, albeit not as often.  In fact, it happened here just last week.  This guy that I do not know personally, but am loosely acquainted with through a Facebook group, had his car stolen in this manner.  I’m copying portions of the story here…

http://www.kcrg.com/content/news/Marion-man-has-car-stolen-after-leaving-it-running-unattended-468390093.html

MARION, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) — A Marion man says he was just trying to keep his vehicle warm in sub zero weather when someone stole his SUV.

It happened on December 30th at Casey’s General Store at 680 Lindale Drive in Marion. <deleted> says he was running inside to get a cup of hot chocolate before work.

He had his spare key on him, and thought he locked up before going inside. A person at the nearby laundromat spotted the SUV and drove off with it. Police are still searching for the person who did it. <deleted> thinks the person is homeless, and stole his car to stay warm.

He adds, “Well I feel violated. And like I told the officer, the Marion Police officer. I told them, I said I would’ve given him a ride. You know, some place or a shelter, or wherever he wanted to go.”

…and…

The vehicle was found Monday in Cedar Rapids. Police will check it for evidence, then give it back to <deleted>. He says he will keep his doors locked from now on.

He adds, “I screwed up, you know. I don’t know how else to put it.”

(He wasn’t this contrite in the Facebook group.)  And he’s surprised it was stolen.  😐

Ok, now this news story does not include all the annoying details.  It also happens that this guy posted his plight on the previously mentioned Facebook page, expressing sadness and shock at being victimized.  And… this is what gets my goat more than the car theft itself… people lined up to defend him and his choices.  People slammed the thief, which was appropriate, but not a single person dared criticize him for the obvious.  They actually defended him and told him he bore no fault whatsoever.  It was all on the thief.  It was as if they were all enabling dumb decisions.  No one was willing to say what needed to be said… “But you left your car running, you idiot!  That was stupid!”

Now, don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t matter how ‘available’ something is, and no theft victim ever “deserves” it, there is never an excuse to steal.  But let’s get back to the real world, shall we?  In the real world there are dishonest people.  People who will steal, and it is incumbent on you to reasonably protect your stuff.  Locks were invented for a reason.  Leaving your vehicle available is not responsible.  Leaving your vehicle available is dumb, especially without remote start.  Even if the door is locked, if the key is in the ignition you’re asking for trouble.

Oh, and the best part:  In the Facebook group he said he will continue to do the same thing.

Rant: Idiot Drivers

And no, I don’t mean just Iowa.  I mean idiot drivers everywhere.  I mean the morons who refuse to turn their headlights on in inclement weather.  Rain, snow, fog, and so on.  And what are the most common lame excuses?  They are…

1) “Having my headlights on don’t allow me to see any better.”

Yes, I have actually had people say this to me.  Hey, idiot, headlights on in bad weather is not for you to see better, it’s for other people to better see you.  Duh!!!

I come from the central valley in California, with some of the worst Tule Fog imaginable.  Fog so dense you often feel the only thing guiding you is the lines on the road.  “Driving by braille” we often called it (many California roadways have raised line markers), and the ONLY thing that clued you in to an oncoming car was their headlights.  You for a 2 second warning.  Cars with no headlights on you wouldn’t be aware of until they were right on top of you.

Most places, such as Iowa, don’t have fog nearly that bad, which actually makes your headlights more important because you can get a decent sense of who else is on the road.

2) “My headlights are automatic and activated by a sensor.”

😐

Seriously?  That’s your excuse?  Don’t be irresponsible.  Are you in charge of your car, or is your car in charge of you?  Think.  Be aware of your responsibilities as a safe driver and take  control.  Be pro-active.  Override your automatic system and manually turn on your headlights, if necessary.  To blame it on your automatic sensor is pure laziness and abdication of responsibility.

Bottom line:  Don’t be an idiot driver.  This has been your driving PSA for today.

Rant: The “Dumb Run”

A few weeks ago I pontificated about running and jogging and the questionable mental capacity of the people who do this stuff BY CHOICE! That was a fun piece to write, and I enjoyed putting it together and especially choosing the photos, and there was some tongue-in-cheekiness to it. Some. Today, however, comes a rant involving not running per se but runners. Dumb runners.

Scenario: 6:15 am. It’s dark out, sunrise is still about a half hour away, though you can see some light juuuuuust starting to come over the horizon. Driving down a semi-rural road, no sidewalks, no street lights, lots of houses, but spaced apart and in a heavily wooded area. Aaaaaand, the runner.

Dressed in pretty much all black. Black shoes, black sweat pants, black hoodie pulled over his face because it’s also cold out. Running across the street. I could barely see the silhouette of the guy, literally. I dub thee “the dumb run”.

There’s another guy who runs this same route and time, but at least that guy wears a bright yellow safety vest with lots of reflective markings. Personally, I still think that’s kind of dumb as well, but not nearly as much as this other guy who seems to be impersonating a Sasquatch that doesn’t want to be seen.

See this image I included? That’s what this guy looks like to drivers. Clearly discernible… not! I think I’m pretty sure I speak for other drivers when I say that I don’t want to be part of his Darwin Award epitaph.

Iowa Drivers, Pt 2

This bumper sticker should be issued to all native Iowa drivers upon passing the test.

Iowans are, for the most part, unquestioningly nice. Exceedingly nice. The jerk percentage of the population is far less than in pretty much any other place I’ve been. And this is precisely why I love Iowans. They’re wonderful people, really. But… there’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there?… this might explain their driving habits. They’re trying too hard to be nice. Case in point…

You come to a four way stop, and there are researched and approved rules of driving etiquette and law regarding who goes first, but in Iowa nobody goes. Everybody just sits there looking at each other. When I’m one of the four, I go, whether it’s my turn, or not. Hey, somebody’s gotta break the ice, right?

Oh, and God forbid that one of the four cars is a cop. Phfft, might as well turn off the engine and take a nap.

On occasion I will come across someone who is just as aggressive as I am. This always takes me aback. I’ve become so accustomed to wimpy drivers that it literally shocks me when someone is as aggressive as I am. I immediately think, “Whoa. That’s person’s from out-of-state.”, just like I am. There are too few of us.

Part 2.1

Ok, this isn’t an Iowa driver rant, per se, but it is driving related, and is about an Iowa driver. I worked a 12 hour day today. On the way home I’m the second car behind another car that is driving incredibly slow, almost creeping along. Contrary to my usual self, I wasn’t annoyed, but I did want to move faster. As they make the left turn I see these big bright reflective letters on the back of the vehicle… STUDENT DRIVER.

*sigh*

Since I was going the same way, and I was in a part of town where there are no reasonable alternatives, I resigned myself to settling in for the ride. Make the best of a bad situation, right? Besides, I was blasting some B-52s, so it wasn’t all bad.

Anyway… did I mention they were slow?… we proceed down the road, and going uphill I had to actually downshift to second gear (I drive a stick) because we were barely breaking 20 mph. Then we come to a four way stop… with them virtually coming to a stop 100 yards before the intersection, they were so cautious.

😐

At least the driving gods were smiling upon me and the student driver put on their blinker for a left turn. They then, in true aspiring Iowa driver fashion… as if we don’t have enough of them already… proceeded to just sit there while more cars than had the right-of-way made their turns.

*facepalm*

When they finally did navigate their turn, they would have moved backward if they went any slower. Driving instructors must be saintly. Or on Valium.  That’s all I can figure. I had this vision of the instructor losing their patience and screaming, “JUST GO ALREADY!!!” I mean, that’s what I would do.

😐

I would not make a good driving instructor.