When summer begins to disappear, and the days get colder, my state of relaxation fades, and I get downright ornery.  There are so many annoyances in my world, but some are just a bit more disturbing than others. For those of you reading this, I hope you can nod your head and identify with what is written on the paper, or on your computer screen. If not, don’t get peeved. Herewith, are some of my pet peeves (in no particular order):

MEDICAL OFFICES: It doesn’t matter whether it’s a dentist or a physician’s office, the front reception staff is usually overworked, overstressed and not wearing a smile. We all know about the notorious long waits for regularly scheduled appointments, but even the waiting room is a pet peeve. What’s with the 1984 National Geographic magazines, or the 1998 People Magazines? When arriving at the doctors, they hand you numerous forms that ask the same question in eighty different ways. Is it an exercise to keep us busy? Is it punishment for daring to be sick? And, with the newest privacy laws comes even more forms to sign. Does anyone ever read these HIPAA papers? I didn’t think so.  I’d like to go to a medical office where the receptionist gives me a wide smile, says “hello Mark” (they never know your name), and then adds, “the doctor will see you---on time.” I can understand the sour attitude of the “help” at the office. With the reams of paperwork the state and federal authorities require, together with the endless requirements of the HMO’s, it’s no wonder that these folks don’t have time to inhale, or smile. And, here’s another one. The doctor sends you for tests for a horrible disease, and while you wait on pins and needles, never returns phone calls with the results. Perhaps they enjoy the drama, or need to get in their final holes of golf before it rains. A little courtesy can go a long way toward reducing patient’s anxiety levels!

SUPERMARKETS AND RETAIL STORES: Why do large corporations—from the international owners of our supermarkets like Stop & Shop and Shaw’s, to national retail chains—require us, their customer, to foot their generous charitable donations. I donate a lot to charity. But, I like to choose the charity I support with my check So, why do these huge companies wait until we go to the cashier with our purchase to ask us to donate $1 (or, in the case of Shaw’s, up to $10) to their charity of the moment? Why do we have to make excuses to the poor teenage cashier? “Sorry, I already donated.” It’s true, but it sounds lame. And, if we donate every time we hit the cashier of our favorite stores, we’ll end up asking for charity ourselves. If the CEO’s of these companies (who take in high six figure salaries) want to donate, let them use THEIR money or some of the company profits. Don’t keep begging me. I’ll drop the dollar in the Salvation Army bucket outside, if I so choose.  Meanwhile, the supermarket CEO’s go on TV to present their huge checks---which are made up chiefly of donations from you and ye, their customers!     And, why do all manufacturers think bigger is better?  The new JUMBO rolls of toilet tissue and paper towels don’t fit on the old holders.  And, while at the supermarket, why do people with 40 items continue to go in the 12 and under aisle, and then get peeved if they are told to relocate to another cashier?  Not sure if people are stupid, lazy or just impatient—or a bit of all three.

NEIGHBORS: Don’t get me wrong. I love the neighborhood I live in, and I choose to be friends with many of those who live in my ‘hood, and friendly to all. I’m the first to wave at every car, some of which turn out to be people cutting through the ‘hood who think I’m some kind of mentally challenged hippie. But, what’s with neighbors you don’t know sending you those envelopes for the charity they are working for? I must get a few every year, some seeking donations for charities I regularly give to (like American Red Cross and American Cancer Society.) Shouldn’t a neighbor know me first, before they solicit me? My kids have both been involved in athletics for years. When they are asked to solicit to sell calendars, magazines, candy, cookies and the like, we write a check. I would never think of sending them to neighbor’s houses to ask for money. But, many little ones are at our door regularly with these items, and sometimes I have no idea who they are. It’s a dangerous practice for the kids. Who knows who will answer a door? If you must raise the funds, solicit relatives and friends---and have a parent or grandparent join them on the fundraising journey.  Of course, neighbors who are true friends, will buy each other’s junk and even the whole thing out.

TRAFFIC and DRIVING: There are so many incidents while driving my car that make the blood pressure skyrocket to dangerous levels. Here are a few of my hard-driving peeves. When I’m at an intersection and I graciously allow someone to cut in front of me and there’s no acknowledgement. All is takes is a nod or wave to make me happy. But none is forthcoming. I make a mental note to never be nice again. People who take left turns in the right lane and right turns in the left lane make my blood curdle. Ditto those who put on makeup, drink and eat, and converse on the phone instead of watching the road in front of them. People who make a turn while failing to use their signals are another one that makes my anger mechanism engage. Drivers that tailgate (and, I don’t mean the ones at football games!) I enjoy giving them the brake treatment. Probably peeves them. Those in such a hurry that they give you high beams and horns on the highway, when you’re already driving 70 mph also deserve the brakes.  Of course, Stoughton Center is one giant peeve in every direction.  The additional light doesn’t seem to have helped the flow, but it sure slows things down even more. Of course, like all Stoughtonites, I avoid the Center as much as I can.  But, short cuts like School Street and Walnut Street fill up quickly and also get backed up.  And, another major annoyance is when politicians and their supporters line the square holding signs. I feel I must wave to all, and since they surround me from every direction, I frequently am not looking at the road ahead.   Can we just have a gentleman’s agreement this year---no more signs?  Same goes for the ones on people’s properties, that frequently get blown away and become litter.  Or else, they get “stolen” and become newspaper fodder.

METEOROLOGISTS: What other job is there that failure is routine, and being accurate is unusual? How many times have you cancelled plans because the weatherman (or woman) said it was going to snow—but it never did? Barbecues and outdoor events are constantly cancelled due to inclement weather that never happens. Other times, it’s supposed to be beautiful, and turns out dreadful. With all the Doplar Radar and other sophisticated equipment at their disposal, you think they’d get it right every once in a while! I think Jason Variteck has a higher average than most Boston TV meteorologists---and that’s not saying much!

JUNK PHONE CALL, MAIL AND EMAILS : Does it seem like telemarketers wait until you hit the bathroom, shower, or sit down to dinner before they call? Even if you’re on the “no call” list, any company you’ve made inquiries to in your lifetime or done business with the past decade can call—and usually does. They are very good at not taking “no” for an answer, so I have developed my own “system” to deal with these irritants. I simply put them on “hold”—permanently. I’ve had some hang on for ten minutes, others drop like flies in a few seconds. It’s effective. They usually don’t call back, because wasted time makes them no money. I have sometimes got three pounds of junk mail in a single day. I got so much of it that I needed to devise an effective means of revenge on these wasters of forestry. My solution is simple—and highly effective. Whenever they send a postage-paid return envelope stuffed inside their junk mail, I stuff the contents of their missive into it, and mail it back to them. They have to pick up the additional costs of return postage. And, I leave my name and address right on it. They don’t usually keep me on their lists. As for junk emails, another scourge of modern times---and a pet peeve of numerous internet-savvy folks—I have a split-second trigger finger on the delete button and that, combined with excellent spam software protection, has kept the problem to a minimum.  I noticed my elderly friends send a procession of forwarded emails, which arrive at all times of day. The solution? I block all forwarded emails.  I don’t think I’ve missed much, however.

From Stoughton Journal, 9/11/09