We’ve just cruised into a new year and a brand-new decade. However, I can’t motor by these major milestones without looking into the rear-view mirror and seeing my pet peeves strewn across 2019 like debris from a burst trash bag tumbled off a too piled-high pick-up.
So, brooms and shovels ready? Let’s clean up some things that really got under my skin last year:
1. E-cigarettes and vaping. Who thought that inhaling aerosolized nicotine into your lungs was safe when it was first introduced? And who believed that offering flavors like gummy bear and strawberries and cream was OK and not a malevolent way for the tobacco industry to sink its addictive hooks into kids?
2. So-called “background music.” I avoid restaurants, bars and retail establishments that play music at a volume that makes it hard not just to talk but to think.
3. White men who claim that there is no such thing as white privilege. Apparently they’ve never been followed around a store by a suspicious clerk, red-lined in real estate, stopped by the police for driving while black, or thought to be a gang member just because they’re wearing a hoodie.
4. The numbing, repetitive use of the F-word in movies. It is no longer shocking or daring, but just proof of unimaginative writing. Do you hear me, Marty Scorsese?
5. Toddlers in strollers with electronic devices and wireless headphones. The real world is passing them by and will never be as exciting as watching MarioKart on a new Switch Lite. Sad.
6. TV and radio interviews in which questions are not answered but the interviewer quickly moves on to the next topic. I want to hear, “I’m sorry. You didn’t answer my question. I’ll ask it again.”
7. Self-check-out terminals in supermarkets and big box stores. They have displaced cashiers; many of them with families to support.
8. Diesel pick-ups. Sorry, I just don’t get the engine’s high decibel level. Can’t manufacturers make them quieter, or is the deafening noise simply repressed loud-mouth swagger on the part of drivers?
9. Beginning answers with “well” or “so.” This has become the new mode of responding to any question, whether you are a politico being interviewed on the radio or someone at a meeting.
10. The scourge of plastic bags littering county roads. Besides being ugly, they may be deadly because they’re made with polyethelyne, a suspected human carcinogen. Plastics have found their way into the food chain. According to Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, the bags don’t just kill sea life by being ingested. 100% of water samples from the Bay contain microplastics, and 94% of U.S. drinking water contains microfibers.
11. Comcast/Xfinity. Moving Turner Classic Movies to the Sports Entertainment Package and your customer service office out of Carroll County just lost you another customer.
12. Preventing county commissioners from praying before meetings. This was a Pyrrhic victory and played into the stereotype applied to liberals. Those responsible helped to “praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” against progressive causes.
13. Electronic gear that comes without printed directions. I just bought a new computer monitor and had to go to the Internet for assistance in hooking it up. Think about that.
14. Movie reviews that provide too much information. Telling readers to beware of a “spoiler alert” doesn’t help.
15. Framing gun control as a partisan issue. It is an urgent matter of public safety like automobile homicide and has nothing to do with politics.
16. Pick-ups piled high with unsecured cargo. Whether it’s yard waste or mangled step ladders, I don’t want to have to navigate around your dangerous mess on Md. 140.
OK. I feel a lot better now. Thanks for reading, and please accept my belated but sincere wishes for a 2020 filled with much love, peace, laughter, and good health.
Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears every other Friday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.