Saunders: Counterbalancing pet peeves with thankfulness for favorite things

Several months ago I wrote an article about my pet peeves. While I ended the column by asking my readers for their pet peeves, I am only now getting back to this topic by asking other prime-ers — my neighbors and friends and family members — about their pet peeves. The only caveat is that for each pet peeve given, the person must also counterbalance it with something for which he or she is thankful.

The prime-ers interviewed were picked at random to give the responses more legitimacy. These prime-ers also demonstrated that they are not hesitant to give answers on pet peeves or favorite things leading to thankfulness, some doing so with humor. At this Christmas season let us decide whether the pet peeves or the items of thankfulness are more important to the primer-ers interviewed. (By the way, George and Betty, two friends from a previous column, labeled their “items that enrich [their] daily lives” as “pet positives.”


One of George’s pet peeves is being asked, every time he has a blood draw, whether he is enrolled in a Federal government program for Black Lung Disease. He says that “in these days of computerized, cloud-based data it is a mystery why this is the only thing our government is unable to track.” His pet positive comes from that same blood-draw waiting room where a framed print of a flying pig always catches his eye and puts a smile on his face.

As a left-handed person, Betty wonders why she has to “endure the US Postmaster approved mail boxes with the little red flag always on the right hand side.” She is very thankful for the “rare, handwritten letter (not e-mail) sharing news, a thank-you note or some other form of ‘human communication,’ even if it does arrive in a ‘right-handed’ mailbox!” George and Betty together lamented, “Why do we have so many little aches and pains as we get older,” but then they countered that with, “We are fortunate to still be here to enjoy life in spite of our few little aches and pains.”

Another George, the executive director of Carroll Lutheran Village, is frustrated by the use of plastic bags when other more environmentally friendly alternatives are available. He is thankful for his health, his family, his cherished friends, and especially that he has “been given the opportunity to have a career that impacts the lives of so many” and allows him to “truly make a difference.”

My cousin Adele says that she gets peeved at the run-around she gets when she calls a business or agency and has to hang on the phone for 20 minutes before she can talk to someone who might or might not know the answer to her questions. On the other hand, she is thankful for her wonderful family and that she and her husband are healthy enough to still live independently at 92 and 88.

Many prime-ers interviewed were upset with people’s lack of thoughtfulness and poor habits. Bill is peeved with people who talk all the time and think they know everything, but he counters that with being grateful for people who do what they say in a timely manner. Ann complained about people who promise to do something and then disappear, but she feels particularly blessed by her neighbors who treat her like family. Joyce complained about people who habitually complain and are never satisfied; with no family, she is nevertheless thankful for her devoted good friends who show her love and support.

Another Betty gets frustrated when people don’t call her back after she has left a message; she doesn’t know whether the person got the message or changed his or her phone number. She forgets this frustration when she is doing things with her friends or when she is helping other people by taking them to medical appointments, for example. She also loses her frustration when she is sewing. Lou likewise gets frustrated when told by some people that they will look into an issue and get back to him, but they never get back to him. His humor comes through when he says he is thankful for his wife “even though it’s been a long journey — for her!” Max is also thankful for his wife for a multitude of reasons, but he gets exasperated by poor grammar and “ridiculous language,” such as “this point in time,” or realtors’ “price point,” both meaningless terms.

A number of prime-ers’ pet peeves centered on the way other people drive, careless behaviors that can cause accidents. Certainly Sue’s pet peeve about drivers who take handicap parking spaces away from people who need them when they don’t is perhaps the height of thoughtlessness. She says that they should thank God every day that they are not handicapped. Sue’s positive centers on Santa Claus and the Spirit of Christmas, both with the same initials as her mother once told her, who give with no expectation of getting something in return.

Another cousin, Bud — the one who played the trombone — resents having to get up at 3 a.m. to test his blood sugar. Although Bud suffers with a disability that keeps him confined to a POV chair to maneuver, his thankfulness revolves around his Christian faith that “gives [him] the strength to live with disability” and all that entails.

Pet peeves are easy to identify, often caused by someone else’s bad habits and lack of thoughtfulness, a lack of helpfulness, and insensitivity, and therefore out of our control. Prime-ers focus on health, faith, family, friends, helping someone else, being able to count on others, neighbor helping neighbor, giving with no expectation of something in return — all things that make us prime-ers thankful at Christmas.