Thursday, June 23, 2011

Utah Motorists, Let’s Review: R.O.W.

Pet Peeve. Great term. Means something that annoys or irritates you…to a degree greater than it does to other people. We all have them. I have a lot, but there are a few that top the list.

Recorded telemarketers/political campaigners/poll-takers. Stated simply: I hate them. And I know I’m not alone. If you want to talk to me, if you want my opinion, if you want to try to sell me something (try being the optimum word here, because you won’t succeed. Trust me.)…then for heck sake do it in person. Having to take the trouble to get up and get to the phone and answer it and then hearing a canned spiel makes my blood boil. You won’t get past “Hello, this is So-and-So…”

Right up there at the top with the automated dialers is real, live telemarketers that won’t take “NO” for an answer. I make every attempt to be courteous, I realize they are trying to make a living…but if I’ve said “no” politely twice, that’s all you get. After that I turn nasty. And you don’t want to make me nasty on the phone.

One of my biggest (work) pet peeves is the junk mail I get here at the office. I get junk mail at home also…and that ticks me off, too…but I don’t have to distribute that. There’s only one recipient at home…and it’s black, tall, round and made of plastic. And the lid swishes up and down as I distribute the junk mail into it.

At work I have to sort the junk mail and take it around to people’s offices. It is university-generated junk, mostly. Advertising sales at the bookstore or the creamery outlet, or theater productions, or lectures, or HR classes and seminars, or athletic events. The ads usually come on half-sheet or quarter-sheet pieces of colored paper and they invariably flutter out onto the floor when I take the pile of mail from the mailbox, which increases the irritation exponentially. I think…no wait…I know that the irritation is because of the enormous waste of university resources these seemingly innocuous little slips of paper represent.

Within minutes of distribution, these pieces of paper end up in the recycle bin (hopefully) or the trash (usually). And it’s not just the fact that we’re killing perfectly beautiful forests for the paper…that’s just the half of it. It’s the price of man power involved, as well. It takes someone time to design the thing, to print the thing, to cut the thing into halves or quarters or whatever. Then there are the distributions costs…to over two thousand people on campus. Not to mention that there are people paid to pick up the recycling or dump the trash. Now we all have computers…or most do, anyway. The university maintains a website and a list-serve for bulk emails. There is also a fancy, four-color glossy “newsletter” that goes out once a week to all faculty and staff. Surely there are better ways of getting the word out that don’t involve tons of paper (and my sanity) each year!!

The last one I’ll mention is referenced in the subject heading. R.O.W. Don’t know what it means, do you??? Well, nine out of ten Utah drivers don’t know what it means either!

Right Of Way. (Traffic term.)

Why is it that people behind the wheel of a car lose all sense of community? They are in a potentially-deadly half-ton heap of glass, rubber, metal and fiberglass and believe me, most of them are only out for themselves. If they want to go there, they go there. Someone in the way? Someone wanting to go the same direction? Tough. They also don’t realize or remember (if they ever learned it in the first place – doubtful) that if you are turning across a lane of on-coming traffic you are supposed to YIELD. [Yield: to give up or over; relinquish or resign…to give place or precedence to… The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged] (Really unabridged…it weighs a ton and has its own little podium-thingee).

It’s called RIGHT OF WAY, people…get with the program!

A corollary to this infuriating non-practice would be the refusal to recognize a yellow light (sometimes even a red light) at an intersection. Yes, I know the old joke: Red means Stop, Green means Go and Yellow means GO LIKE HELL. But there’s this one intersection in Orem…a busy one…State Street and University Parkway. (Sounds major, doesn’t it?) Right by the mall. I don’t know why this is always worse than any other intersection…but it is. Especially if I’m heading west and the cars are turning left, going north. I have counted six or seven cars turning against on-coming traffic after their light has turned red. (Not just pink…Red. Fire Engine Red. Cardinal. Scarlet. CRIMSON.) Sometimes you get lucky and only two or three will turn against your green light. (Hallelujah.)

This practice, of course, leads to everyone else going against a red light because they didn’t think they got their turn at the last go ‘round.

I suppose almost all of my pet peeves – or at least the really pernicious ones – have to do with civility and consideration. I think I’m a considerate person. I try to give way if someone was incredibly stupid and forgot to think ahead and get into the correct lane, and is frantically signaling to merge. I am nice to sales people, even when they’re incompetent. I answer the phone with a smile in my voice, even when I know it’s another inquiry about hall advisor positions from someone who doesn't know what "2 years college or equivalent experience" means or thinks it’s just a cushy job that pays you money to stay home and play with your kids. I practice good etiquette in restaurants and on airplanes. I'm patient when waiting in lines. I try not to complain or make a fuss. And in reality, most people do, too.

It’s those darned motorists turning left in front of me…

For now,

Friday, June 10, 2011

Who The H*LL is Kim Kardashian & Why Do I Care??

Maybe I’m not particularly “with it” (wait…who am I kidding…I’m definitely not “with it”), but anyway I just don’t get it. I watch my share of “reality” TV – I love watching Project Runway and The Next Food Network Star and Iron Chef America and Chopped. I guess it’s my competitive nature. And (to me at least) there’s point to those kinds of programs. (Most of them make me hungry, but I’m not sure that’s the producers' objective…then again, maybe it is.)

I don’t include “vote me out of the house/off the island” types of programs…because I think those are just cruel and stupid. But I am absolutely dumbfounded that people would actually watch programs about Jersey girls who are bitchy and spoiled or about rich sisters and their family squabbles or women who are willing to prostitute themselves to wind up with a flower at the end of an episode.

Other than shopping, fighting, applying (too much) makeup, dressing up in slutty clothes, partying or swabbing tonsils with a stranger, what do they really DO?? And why do people find this interesting?? (In current "text-ese" WTH???)

It would be different if people like Snooki (what kind of idiotic name is that anyway??) went around donating to children’s hospitals or spent time reading to the blind or handing out trophies at Special Olympics games or organizing food bank drives…that type of activity would be worthwhile and worth our attention. But what did she…or Paris Hilton or Kim Kolciak (I didn’t know who she was either – Real Housewives of Atlanta) or Tori & Dean or Jessica & Nick (yes, I know they broke up...weren't you just devastated???) or any of a multitude of other current “celebrities” really, really do to merit such fame and press exposure?

Hmm…well, I suppose it’s because they’re all willing to expose themselves…every unpleasant, petty, banal aspect of their shallow lives to a nation-wide audience. They say everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame, but unless you’re terminally narcissistic, that’s a tough way of achieving it.

Maybe I don’t have enough time on my hands…or perhaps I have too much, but either way I can’t see spending the hours and hours a week it would take to keep up with people like that.

Now I know that there are people who are passionate (notice that I didn't say "obsessed") about their favorite reality show…and that’s fine, and I suppose there are reasons to get emotionally invested in this season’s latest Idol or who dropped the most poundage this week or who remembered the lyrics to Michael Jackson’s “Pretty Young Thing” last night. Basically they are glorified game shows and it’s nice that people get a chance to do that.

But when you stick a camera (or a multitude of cameras) in somebody’s over-priced, over-decorated house and record the day-to-day doings of people who do nothing to contribute to society except broadcast their indecorous and unseemly behavior, that’s when my remote goes CLICK! and I go find something – anything! – else to do.

If that’s reality I’d rather live in Fantasy Land.

For now,