Every so often my observations of life tend to boil over and crack like eggs left too long on the stove. I know I'm far from alone in accumulating frustrations. So bear with me, valued readers, while I blow off a quart or so of steam.
For instance, I find it difficult to believe that with all the head-on collisions, so many among us still allow their left wheels to stray across highway centerlines. There's ample space on each side of the middle to accommodate our own vehicles. Yet it's so oddly easy for drivers to leave their own lane for those we are occupying.
Next, I've gotta say (yet again) how few experiences are more annoying than trying to shop in a big-box store with narrow aisles purposefully crammed with every conceivable form of merchandise to the point of creating choke points for those trying to spend money with them.
Not only are stockers busy doing their own thing during peak shopping hours, but it's clear most fellow shoppers are either oblivious to others around them, or enjoy gathering side-by-side in social chats that seal off any chance to squeeze past. Add in those motorized carts trying to weaving down the same clogged aisles (often at the same time).
I once waited a full minute trying to reach across an aisle for a bottle of catsup as two other shoppers examined labels and compared notes, oblivious to anyone around them. It wouldn't be quite as bad if those pushing carts or driving scooters would pull far to one side whenever they stop, thereby thoughtfully allowing at least enough space for others to maneuver past. These stores are intended to accommodate more than one customer at a time, right?
And someone please explain why the Walmart decision-makers don't install angled mirrors at the end of aisles so we don't keep accidentally colliding with each other? They can't be that expensive.
Slightly lower on the meter of life's annoyances are sit-down restaurants that have not properly trained their wait staffs in the mere basics of acceptable service. I recall a time when an attentive waiter or waitress would make certain one's water glass remained full throughout a meal. It was expected, while also demonstrating an element of concern for the diner, something I rarely see happen anymore.
I've also written previously of corporations and businesses who for some irrational, self-destructive reason, believe their product is intended only for potential customers who share an identical political ideology. By now, we have seen who they are. Frankly, I'm so repulsed by their expressions of political bias that I no longer choose to spend my earnings with them.
It's much the same with the Hollywood ilk who believe, simply because they can don excessive makeup, pretend to be someone else in front of a camera and hand each other shiny accolades, they also are mandated to needlessly alienate half the potential audiences that previously supported them at the box office. It's difficult to tell whether their devil-may-care worship at the foot of extreme political ideology is rooted in egotistical feelings of grandeur, or they already have made so much money as pretenders that other views in this land of free expression no longer matter.
Speaking of politics, perhaps you feel differently, but in my 60-plus years as an adult, I've never been so repulsed by the circus of juvenile horrors that has become the Washington, D.C., swamp. It feels to me as if dishonorable, wild-eyed bands of self-absorbed, know-nothing, C-minus junior high students have assumed control of our nation. And we put them there.
Civility, maturity and reasonable co-existence have been replaced by name-calling and mean-spirited Machiavellian exchanges. Any higher good benefiting our nation has been replaced by serving the best interests of those controlling the power-addicted political parties. Perhaps this severely polarized nation needs reminding that a house divided against itself cannot stand. And what does this splintering of society bode for our grandchildren and theirs?
Some say Mark Twain once wrote that politicians are like diapers that must be changed often, and for the same reason. I don't know if Twain actually coined the phrase, but whoever wrote it clearly knew of what they spoke.
Other annoyances (I'm darn near done--feeling relief): The know-it-alls of life who delude themselves into believing they really do know it all when, in fact, they know relatively little. Those who behave as though they are the center of the universe and all else and others revolve around them, which itself lies at the heart of everything else mentioned above. And the enormous number of flagrant hypocrisies that spew from the so-called elitists among us.
With all this "selfness" in mind I've decided to resume my regular closing sentence from weekly columns written as editor of Fayetteville's Northwest Arkansas Times between 1995 and 2000: "Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly as you want them to treat you."
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editorial on 10/06/2019