Pet Peeves

Christmas Decorations?……Really?

It was the last week in September and I ventured into Home Depot to get some chrysanthemums.  Upon entering I turned my head to the right and what to my wondering eyes should appear?  A miniature sleigh and 8 plastic reindeer!  And Christmas trees!  Christmas trees in September!   Two major holidays between now and then but Christmas trees- decorated Christmas trees! I remember the excitement and the suspense of waiting anxiously after Thanksgiving for all the decorations  to be out in the stores.  It was exciting, a little mysterious as to what new electric train pieces might be available or new lights for the outside of the house.  All that is gone now.  Any mystery or suspense or excitement —-G O N E!  It kind of spoils the season for me when it finally gets close.  Enough- one of my pet peeves.  I get annoyed, sometimes pissed off, but I get over it.

I go to fill up my tank with unleaded regular gas.  We all know that the 87 octane pump is the farthest pump on the left. I didn’t even check only to find out that….oooops, the station changed the octanes and put the 93 octane at a substantially higher price on the far left.  Accident?  I think not!  Purposely intended and deceitful, absolutely.  This more than pisses me off as my bill is  $.50 more a gallon than I had anticipated. I tell myself, “It is what it is, next time check before you pump!”

So those things frost my butt a little but there is one thing that blows my mind away, makes me scream, tear things up and kick furniture legs.  Before I say what it is, you have to understand I was an elementary school teacher for 35 years and before that I “lived” in stationery stores where I bought special fountain pens and mechanical pencils. You remember, the Scripto kind in pretty plastic colors that you would twist the eraser to get the lead to come forward.  I love the act of writing.  I love signing my name.  It gave me a feeling of who I am and that I was proud of it.

Now many school districts, my own included, in their infinite wisdom have decided cursive writing is no longer necessary and they have stopped teaching kids how to write in cursive.  Perhaps that explains why most younger folks have signatures that look like this-  —————————.   Now, I am not against progress.  Progress means moving forward and keeping up with the times and the future but do we have to throw away everything good from the past?  Not only are kids not learning to write cursive, they can’t read it either. They won’t be able to read my signature and know who I am.  I don’t like that!

When I discovered that my district no longer taught cursive several years ago, I called the superintendent of my school and gave her an earful.  Well, kids today do most of their work on the computer and that doesn’t use any script fonts.  #$%^ script fonts.  Please excuse my computer language. I said to the young woman, who seemed far too young to be a superintendent that there are many things written in cursive that kids will have no ability to read.  When she asked me for an example, my blood pressure cuff wasn’t available, but I was able to calm myself with a few ill verbalized yoga mantras, and  told her for example….The Declaration of Independence?  The Constitution?  Gramma’s diary?  Oh yeah, and my parents’ love letters from when my dad was on Iwo Jima and writing to find out how his son was…not me, I was born after the war.

I can remember being in high school and over the summer my friends and I would keep in touch through the mail.  Yes, personal letters. I could tell who each letter was from, not from the return address but from the handwriting.  It was so exciting to get a personal letter that wasn’t produced from a printer somewhere and had absolutely no personal touch to it at all.  I really miss those days.  

I recently found a little bible, pocket size so that soldiers could carry it with them into battle.  I found it in a box full of my dad’s stuff.  I opened the cover and inside it said in cursive, “With the earnest prayers and wishes for a safe return from the service with the armed forces.”  It was signed by the First Congregational Church of Mahanoy City, PA, August 1, 1943.  How sad if I was unable to read that.  There are still a lot of things written in cursive, historic documents, parents’ and grandparents’ memorabilia.  How sad that from this point on no one will be able to read these incredibly valuable inscriptions and notes in their own handwriting in Books given at Christmas or greeting cards, or absence notes we forged for our teachers (oops- forget that)!

Like so many things,  we cast these things aside and move on to the next shiny objects.  Any young folk drive standard transmission cars anymore? Very few!  Enough!  I am done ranting and raving.  There are other things that raise my blood pressure to the dangerous level but i will leave it here.  Next thing you know we will be teaching cursive as a second language but will have to really search to find people qualified to teach it.  Very sad!

The Mummy’s Cursive

Poor Austin Palmer! How quickly his star has faded. His method of cursive writing influenced a generation of teachers and students. The irony is that the Palmer Method was devised to speed the process of writing (and thereby retiring the slower Spencerian longhand). Since cursive is faster than printing, it makes you wonder what goal is being served by its elimination. At least we should demand the current crop of students learn shorthand.

Never fear, George – even if future folks lose the ability to read old notes and original documents, I’m sure they will be transcribed with the appropriate emoji’s. More to the point, how will folks sign contracts and legal agreements – with personalized chops, thumbprints, eye-scans? What will the Artist Formerly Known as Geo do in the new age? Likely leave a DNA specimen on his works…  

Pet peeves — It’s funny how the topic can elicit such a long laundry list of items. Once you start to enumerate them, it’s like the line of jets in the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson glide path. I used to watch those aircraft prepare their descent to Hartsfield as I traveled on Camp Creek parkway. You could see the lights of three jumbos, each appearing to hang right behind the other as they began their approach. Of course, these planes were at least a mile apart – but three would always be in view. One would land and three more sets of lights would stretch in the distance – a constant stream.

Pet peeves also seem to line up forever: so many! First, you struggle to search for just one, but after one is named, an endless procession of annoying items request permission to land. Where were they lurking prior to this thought process? Do they exist in a peeve universe, walled off from day-to-day happy thoughts? All of a sudden they are a nest full of baby birds competing to be fed.

Reviewing this litany of minor irritations does not end in any kind of catharsis – actually, It just sort of makes me sad. It puts in bold relief my tendency to blame others. My peeves almost totally involve someone else’s shortcoming: X is self-absorbed; Y goes out of turn at a stop sign; a form requires too much data.  On and on. At the end of the day, you begin to wonder ‘What do I like?’ or ‘How much do I contribute to someone else’s pet peeve?’

Making a game of it helps. Let’s laugh at each other’s pet peeves. Bring them out into the sunlight and examine how insignificant they are. Essentially, these intrusions are simply instances where the world does not conform to our desires. When measured against life-changing issues, pet peeves are mosquito bites: mostly harmless, unless you hang out in the swamp. 

So, Geo – your issues will be resolved by buying that Tesla (in September, for Christmas).

Not My Pet!

It is said that a pet peeve is something nurtured like a pet.  That is, it is something that easily irritates us that we can’t stop complaining about.  I’m not sure I see the connection as my pet Duke is a constant source of comfort and the few times a week he may bolt after a rabbit or woodchuck ignoring my efforts to call him back, are becoming less and less a trigger for my upset. 

It is also said that if we consider things that challenge us to distraction as opportunities for growth, they soon hold less power over us.  So far, Duke always returns and sooner rather than later.  And, perhaps because I’ve attached a GPS tracking device to his collar, I also know I can locate him should he exceed my parameters for being M.I.A.  So, this pet – pet peeve has lost it’s classification as such and is only a reminder of the times I became obsessed with how Duke was supposed to behave.

As for Geo’s cursive writing peeve, it’s not one of mine.  I understand and appreciate his stand on the subject of doing away with the mandated teaching of cursive writing.  For sure, it has served me well over the years and there is also something inviting about reading a poem or essay that has been written in clear and artistic penmanship.  For me it adds to the value of a well-written piece.  On the flip side, as my hand no longer holds a steady and smooth course as I write out a note or comment on paper, I appreciate the ability to type and print or type and send.  It’s fast, easy to decipher, and comes along with suggestions for edits!  What’s not to like?

Isn’t it interesting that some things become pet peeves only as we age?  As our parents before us, we like to hold on to things that we enjoyed, or were good at, or felt comfortable with.  And, change often challenges those securities we tend to hold fast to.  As for me, I often choose both when I can – a self-driving Tesla on one side of the garage and a stick shift pick up on the other!

2 thoughts on “Pet Peeves

  1. I’m with George–I was horrified when I learned that cursive (script) is no longer taught in schools. I am a fountain pen user. I write much quicker in script with a fountain pen than when I print (okay, either way I write I’m not sure my handwriting is legible, but that’s beside the point). I love the sound of the pen scratching along the paper. I’m not sure it’s my pet peeve–my pet peeve is people leaving shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot, between empty parking spots, don’t get me started–but I do think it’s sad 😉
    Thanks for giving me space to vent–and you aren’t three old guys; maybe you are, in which case I am one old lady!


    1. Thanks for commenting Connie. Now that you mention the shopping cart issue, I fully undertand. When I return my cart to the cart corale I have to make sure it slides inside the previously returned carts to prevent it from sliding out into the lane of traffic.


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