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Winter is closing in on us. It is 3:30 on a recent afternoon and daylight savings time is gone. It’s cloudy, dark and drizzling. Dreary as it is, I’m bound and determined to avoid the dreary political arena — at least for now. We’ll see how that goes. Certainly, American sociological life offers enough to keep our attention — at least momentarily.

But first, good wishes and warm thoughts go out on this day after Veterans’ Day to all who have worn an American military uniform. With that in mind, surely you have noticed a certain expression of thanks has become so commonplace these days that I now consider it to be trite and overused. “Thank you for your service” causes me to cringe internally when heard. It seems to me somewhat automatic and used without sincerity. Originality is nice. I once chatted up an active duty Army sergeant at an airport and he had a variation that I found interesting. He thanked me “for leading the way.” I had served in the Army infantry way back in the sixties. I would not dissuade you from expressing your legitimate feelings toward those who have served but putting your individual stamp on it will be noticed. I wonder if other veterans have similar reactions.

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A radio commercial just aired and used a word that makes me grit my teeth every time. Do you have words that grab you whenever heard? I have a couple, but the main one, I contend, is not a real word — even if commonly used. It is “preventative.” Back to Army days … Before my commissioning, I (among other things) drove a truck. The big deal at the motor pool was “preventive maintenance.” Get it? Preventive! Even the Army got it right! No “ta” in the word. Years ago, when I first noticed the new word with the extra syllable (and some say we are a lazy people) I took time to look it up in my faithful Merriam-Webster. Guess what? Under “preventative” it read “see preventive.” Today’s version simply says “preventive.” Who invented a word virtually identical to its original form, that means the same thing, but is harder to say? Just hearing the word makes what’s left of my brain itch.

Changing the channel here. The trite seems to occupy the minds of too many interviewers today. It seems that very little originality is required of TV interviewers. How many times have you heard, “What were you thinking/how did you feel?” In situations of tragedy, victory, sadness, or elation I’m certain that we all pretty much have similar reactions, but the questions are always the same. Most of us with human emotion and experience have a pretty good idea regarding the response, dependent, of course, on the situation. Interviewer: “So you’ve just won the championship. How do you feel?” Interviewee: “Aw, I think I’ll go get a beer.” Do you, too, long for some originality?

How about a couple of overused words — amazing and awesome? We no longer have average kids. The problem as I see it is that the kids are starting to believe that they are, most of ‘em. I could go on about the potential psychological problems this creates, but I haven’t the training to render professional opinions. What I have is over 75 years of life experience, but that’s not admissible in court.

Al Roker (and lately others) reporting major weather events on TV is annoying when advising us how many millions will be impacted by various weather events. Really? That’s news? Hey Al, just one question. What are we to do with such information? Clearly, my neighbors and I may be impacted. What can I do about the millions of others?

As a career retail banker (long retired) what I call a wannabe bank continues to irritate me. They keep asking “What’s in [my] wallet?” Clearly, although they wannabe a bank, their mentality is still in credit cards. I ended my career with their predecessor, and when they bought the old bank, I closed my accounts. I prefer dealing with real banks.

To close, one of my great joys of retirement is listening to morning and evening rush hour traffic reports. Having spent untold hours on the Washington Beltway, the Cabin John Bridge (American Legion Bridge for younger folks), I-270, Rockville Pike, Wisconsin Avenue, Georgia Avenue, etc., etc., etc. I feel for those of you out there but cannot suppress the smile.

Again, Veterans’ Day greetings to all who wore a uniform of the U.S or an ally.

Rick Blatchford writes from Mount Airy. His column appears every other Tuesday. Contact him at rpblatch4d@comcast.net.

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