Sunday, July 31, 2016


As I grew older, I often said, "I can either be mellow or bitchy. And mellow doesn't make as many wrinkles."

And so (despite the title of my blog!), I've usually ignored unimportant, minor incidents, let them pass, and stayed on an even keel. But this has been a hot, uncomfortable summer so far, and I've gotten prickly, more aware of small aggravations than I usually am.

So this entry is a catalog of some of the things that have momentarily pissed me off. (Feel free to add some of your own!)

Most of these negative entries can be attributed to immaturity, selfishness, narcissism. We no longer teach people thoughtfulness, courtesy, respect. It's all about "ME"!

I work in a bridal salon. At our department entrance, we always have two sample dresses on mannequins. Prices of those dresses usually range from about $1,500 to $3,000. And every single day, almost everyone who passes thinks it's fine to paw the dresses, to lift the skirts to see what's under them, to let their small kids play hide-and-seek around them. Half the time, the customers aren't really interested in buying a wedding dress. They're just curious. Sometimes they check the price tag (understandable), but then they start grabbing at the dress.

I've never seen people pawing at mannequins in other departments. They usually look at them, maybe check the price tag, then look for the same outfits hanging on hangers. So why do they think it's fine to do it at the bridal salon?

Though I usually politely ask them to move their kids away, thoughtfully warning them that the mannequin could fall and hurt their child, I REALLY want to ask, "Would you go into Tiffany and manhandle a $3,000 piece of jewelry? So why do you think it's OK here?"


And of course the subway, as I go to and from work, is rife with instances that piss me off.  The other day, across from me, there was a young woman sitting with an older woman and a small child, but on the other side of the vertical pole. A rather large (the hell with political correctness, he was FAT!) teenager sat down next to her, sort of squashing her toward the pole. She silently put up with it. But then the kid's friend incredibly sat on the fat kid's lap, further squashing the poor young woman. She endured it for a few minutes, then got up. The friend immediately took her seat, then looked askance at her, as though he wondered why she'd gotten up.

I smiled across the aisle at him (remember always to SMILE when you're telling someone off. They can't easily fight back!), and said, "She got up because you were squashing her. That was incredibly rude of you!" He didn't even flinch, nor did he get up and give her back her seat. Shame on that boy's parents, for producing such a thoughtless little shit!


But why didn't she speak up for herself? That bothers me as much as the rudeness. I've been on elevators where selfish little twits were near the front, busy texting on their iPhones, though there was room toward the back. The door opens, and the new people can't get on, because the iPhone users are too busy to notice and move back. The door closes, without any new people getting on. I don't know what annoys me more---the selfish pricks who couldn't move back, or the spineless wusses who couldn't ask them to move!

Though that can be dangerous, if truth be told! Check out the recent news story of a man in a movie theater who got annoyed at the kid behind him who kept kicking his chair. He complained, and the kid's father pulled a gun on him! But kicking kids are a menace---in theaters, on buses, on airplanes. Since the stupid parents seem unwilling or unable to control their little monsters, maybe there should be public signs in these venues, saying, "Please don't kick the seat in front of you!"  Stupid people sometimes need childish instructions!


And of course iPhones lead me to a more subtle form of rudeness. (I have a particular antipathy toward the gizmos, as you may have noticed. See my very first blog entry, PUT DOWN THE DAMN I-PHONE!) That's the rudeness of people to one another.

I stopped for lunch the other day in my neighborhood. I chose a nice venue. Casual burger joint. You order food, sit at a table and wait until they call you to pick it up.Three men, clearly friends, from their few comments to one another, sitting at the table next to me. All three on their devices. Even when they went to get their food and sat down to eat, they still stayed glued to their screens. I wanted to ask why they even bothered to go out together! Self-absorbed, thoughtless "friends"! Why don't they just stay home and text their friends? It's so much easier than having to make a genuine effort to relate to the people around them!


And, back to elevators---people who are so anxious to save a few seconds that, when the doors open on a floor, they immediately press the CLOSE DOOR button. I've seen new riders nearly get squashed as they tried to enter, because the door was closing so soon! And how about the ones who push past the people with baby carriages or invalids in wheelchairs, just to be sure THEY can get on the elevator! Selfish little entitled twits!


Subway again. This afternoon, on the train, the woman next to me was going through her mail. She read the store flyers and theater promotions, the junk mail offerings, etc. She tore things up, seemed to be ripping out her address from all the mailings, etc. I paid little attention to her, but when she got up to leave, I saw that she had left on the seat a large pile of garbage, all her paper discards. Why the hell couldn't she take them with her and find a garbage pail? There are plenty of them in every subway station! She clearly had taken the address labels, which, I'm sure, she intended to throw out later. Thoughtless, lazy creature! (As for her discards, I put them in my tote until I could find the nearest trash can.)


And how about important messages on the subway? How many years will it take for the MTA to figure out that the PA system in the stations is so filled with static and back-echoes that no one can ever clearly hear what is being said? And make an effort to upgrade their equipment? (And train their personnel in how to speak clearly!) As for the messages aboard the train---the guy who comes on the PA system to explain things always sounds as though he's really too uninterested to make much of an effort. He sounds bored, annoyed that someone gave him this chore, indifferent to the riders who are depending on his words. So he speaks softly, far too quickly to catch what he's saying, and in a tone that implies that he would much rather be home watching a ballgame on TV than having to help the subway riders!


Most of these annoyances are associated with work and getting there, which is natural, since most of my interactions with people involve those days when I'm working and going to work.

But lest you think that I condemn mostly customers and USERS of services, I can assure you that GIVERS of services don't score much higher on my thoughtfulness scale! The service industry, in this day and age, mostly sucks! Clerks in stores can barely be bothered to be helpful. And if they manage to make the effort, they act as though they are doing YOU a favor! (I'm old enough to remember when "service" meant SERVICE! My customers always thank me for doing what I'm SUPPOSED to be doing, which always astonishes me.)

Far too many service people seem to hate their jobs, and it shows. (See my old blog entry, PLAY THE GAME OF LIFE WITH THE CARDS YOU'RE DEALT.) They're miserable, so they don't mind sharing their misery. Chatting with one another and ignoring customers, vaguely indicating a direction when someone asks them where to find an item, instead of going there themselves and finding the item, I've been in stores where the clerk was on the phone while he was waiting on me---and unable to answer my questions! And where is a manager in many stores (drugstores especially, as I've noticed), who sees the need to open up more check-out spaces because of the long waiting lines, and actually does so?

And of course the whole subway PA announcement debacle is a classic example of shoddy customer service. As are the grocery store shelf-stockers with their carts of boxes who expect the customer to get out of the way for THEM!


And don't get me started on waiting times in doctors' offices! Do they think THEIR time is more important than ours? And more than once, lately, having waited to see the doctor, I was seen by a physicians' assistant! Is this what I'm paying all my health insurance for?

And a recent aggravation---I was scheduled for a specific exam at a distant health facility. The facility was sending a car to pick me up. (They were paying for the car service.) About a half hour before the car's arrival time, the facility called me to confirm the appointment and tell me that the car would arrive earlier than scheduled. I was fine with this.

I was picked up shortly thereafter. Three-quarters of an hour later, the car having crawled through rush-hour traffic, I arrived at the facility. "Sorry", I was told as I tried to check in. "The machine is down. We'll have to reschedule you."

And they couldn't have told me this when they had called less than an hour before, to confirm a useless appointment? It took ages before they could arrange a return pickup, followed by the long ride home. And half of a precious day off blown to hell! (And they hadn't pre-arranged payment with the driver, so he casually locked me in the car until he got them on the phone and straightened things out!) I guess old ladies look like thieves!

Double Aargh!!

I haven't included any long-ago anecdotes to this entry (which I usually do, since the topics always jog my memory!). So I'll conclude with these two recollections. And maybe if more of us reacted like this, we would get better service!

My father was a very successful businessman. He was also a superb dresser, with every detail just perfect. Custom-made suits, shirts with his monogram on the cuff (long before it was fashionable), accessories just right. And he had a strong presence, which commanded respect from others. But if he didn't get it, he would certainly let them know!

He had walked into a very posh small men's shop in New York, looking for accessories, perhaps. (Don't really know.) Several clerks were chatting together, at some distance. Not one of them made a move toward my father. They smiled at him, said "Yes?" in a questioning tone, but no one moved.

My father smiled back. "Are you busy?" he asked.

"No, sir," said one of them. (Still no movement toward my father.)

"Good!" he exclaimed, and swept his arm across the nearest counter, pushing all its contents to the floor. "Then you can pick this up." He smiled again and stormed out of the store.

The other recollection is a bit more personal. I had gone to a department store to pick up something for my then-husband. I was in the men's department. I started to speak to the clerk in front of me, pointing to the items in the case below. He was suddenly called away to the back. Apologizing profusely, he looked to the end of the counter, where a young man was riffling through some papers on his clipboard.

Bill," he asked, "can you help this customer?"

Bill looked up. "Certainly. May I help you, ma'am?"

I started to point down to the case in front of me. Then I  realized that Bill hadn't moved toward me. On the contrary, after riffling through his papers again, he looked up at me once more, and said, in a rather peeved tone, "May I help you, ma'am?"

I'll be damned!, I thought. I'm the client, he's the salesman. I'm also a woman. He's a gentleman? I'm older than he is! The stuff I want is here! And he can't move his ass to come to ME?

I smiled sweetly.(Remember that!). Then said in a voice that carried to all the other customers in the department, "Certainly, young man---if you're not nailed to the floor!"

He flew to my side, red-faced.

Sometimes it pays to deal with the Aargh! moments with a little backbone.


In all fairness, I have to add this and apologize. Went to my rescheduled lab test this morning. Everyone was wonderful---helpful, efficient, thoughtful. I apologize again and take back my AARGH from the last entry (though maybe not for the driver who insultingly treated me like a potential criminal!).


Monday, July 4, 2016


Did you ever notice-how noble "causes" are so often passionately promoted by people with no real skin in the game?

I suppose this has always been so, though I don't remember it being so noticeable in my younger days. Perhaps the advent of 24-hour news cycles, Facebook, tweeting, Snapchat, and widespread social networking in general, have given larger platforms to the "Do-Gooders" and revealed more "causes" to be championed and exploited. To make smug sanctimony and show-offishness a virtue instead of an unhealthy preoccupation with oneself.

There's something so self-reverential and narcissistic about it. "Look how wonderful I am!"

And it's not enough to have a "cause." We have to announce our wonderfulness to the world. Flag pins, wristbands, colored ribbons and other assorted paraphernalia. "Save the Whales" bumper stickers. T-shirts with slogans. A well-known (and favorite of mine) political writer has called it "virtue-signalling."

And of course the less the "cause" directly affects the supporter of that cause, the louder the voice proclaiming his/her nobleness!  (I doubt any big-shot is going to install a large swimming pool in his/her backyard for Willie---not this year!)

Oops! When I wrote "swimming pool" above, it unexpectedly triggered a very old memory, putting the lie to my second paragraph.

It probably would have been in the early 1970s or late '60s. My three boys were in the age range of perhaps 8-12, or 7-11. Can't really remember now.

But New York City had decided to start busing kids around in the school system. That meant bringing in a lot of children from troubled city neighborhoods into our relatively stable school district. There had been a lot of problems with busing in other states and communities, and we were uneasy at the prospect. (Not without some foundation in reality. By the time our daughter was in public school, the teachers were locking classroom doors to keep out marauders, and I had to watch my young daughter, very scared, nervously scoot into her classroom and safety. Despite the cost, we were eventually forced to move her into a private school.)

But while implementing the policy was still under discussion in New York, a college classmate of mine invited our entire family to a day at her home in Connecticut. Her husband was quite well-to-do. They lived in a tony neighborhood, with an excellent suburban school. (And if it hadn't been good, they would clearly have been able to transfer their kids to a private school.)

We had lunch first, around the swimming pool, chatting all the while. But when the talk turned to our busing dilemma, our host was filled with righteous anger at our concerns. Clearly we were class snobs, bigots, intolerant elitists, etc. How dare we deny poorer children the rights that our children enjoyed?  Stunned, since we had merely expressed our concerns, not any outright rejection of busing, my husband and I exchanged looks and quickly moved on to other topics.

Then it was time for the kids to swim. (Remember how old my kids were---and obviously sensible.) Our host called over our kids, and in a condescending tone, announced to them that there was a chemical in the pool. If they peed in the pool, it would turn red. Frankly, I was shocked that he would think so little of our children's upbringing or our parenting. Moreover, that he would put the "sanctity" of his damn pool above common politeness to his guests.

I remember thinking at the time, "You son-of-a-bitch. Invite the (lower-class) Boys' Club of Bridgeport to swim in your pool before you lecture US about school busing!"

Of course, if it happened today, I wouldn't just THINK it, I would have said it to his arrogant face! (One of the nice things about getting older. And I HATE wussy older ladies. We've earned the right to say what we're thinking!)

But back to today's Do-Gooders. All too often, they are rich celebrities, politicians, business people, well-compensated Media pundits. Folks who are untouched by the causes they champion. And their degree of positive sanctimony is inversely proportional to the negative effect it has on the lives of people who are directly affected.

The mega-rich tycoon who rants on about open immigration for all,  but is building a six-foot-high wall around one of his properties.

The media, political and celebrity gun-control advocates who don't go anywhere without their coterie of armed bodyguards.

The famous star who is big for Climate Change, but insists that all her various houses be kept at 68 degrees, even when she's not there.

The Climate Change politician who has made a fortune on his cause, but uses more electricity and power for his home than half the people in his state. And travels by private jet, sanctimoniously insisting that he can balance off  his effect on the environment by buying climate offsets.

The politicians who can afford to go to a gym to lose weight, mandating that fast-food places post calorie counts, which will inevitably drive up the prices for people who CAN'T afford to go to gyms, but can only afford to eat fast food.

The politicians who scream about "Soak the rich!", "Let them do their fair share"---noble phrases---all while living off the freebies, trips and perks of their office (paid for by the poor taxpayers!) and angling to get as rich as possible as fast as they can! (Check out how many Senators and Representatives in Congress are millionaires. Doesn't anyone ever wonder how they got there on their modest salaries?) As I've mentioned in a previous entry, sometimes I think that the "Soak the rich" rhetoric merely disguises that ugliest of all vices---envy.

The "Rape Justice" crusaders, so enamored of their cause that they can create victims out of questionable reports, and can't even change their tune if the report turns out to be false. (Mattress, anyone?) And the lives they may have ruined? Doesn't affect THEIR lives, so who cares?

Don't be silly! If you are against the cause, you are not only wrong. By today's standards among the elite, you are EVIL!

And that's the other point that bothers me. Today, we can't just have differences of opinion. We must shut down all debate by demonizing those who disagree with us. (Well, it's easier than defending your position with reasoned arguments. And in our adolescent culture, we really don't like thinking hard, more than we have to!) So much easier to shut down your opponent with a patronizing sneer! Or even worse, as more and more protests continue, to stop dissenting opinions with violence.

Part of this, I'm convinced, is the dumbing-down of Academia. It's all about how we FEEL today, not about how reasonable we are. When I was growing up, the perceived wisdom was: If you're an idealist in your twenties, that's natural. If you're still an idealist in your thirties, you haven't grown up.

Well, half our culture is at that sticking point right now. So professors, who are supposed to teach reason and logic, yammer on about Safe Spaces and Micro-aggressions and "feelings", to protect the semi-babies under their care!


Yes, there was some of it in our day, but not nearly to the extent it is now, as it warps our thinking and our collective maturity today.

This current rant triggered another couple of memories before I sign off.

It involved the new middle school in our suburban New York neighborhood that an elitist architectural critic from a prominent magazine thought was wonderful. At the time, I wrote to him with all the points below---never heard back, nor did my letter appear in the magazine. (Surprise!)

It was during John Lindsay's tenure as mayor of New York City. Our suburban community needed a middle school. The mayor had dumped the city's architects, who had been turning out graceful, functional school prototypes for years---which worked! An early self-righteous "do-gooder" and elitist snob (he created The Big Apple concept, which focused almost exclusively on Manhattan, as though the other boroughs didn't exist), Lindsay hired an independent architect, who basically created a beautiful building. Except that it was suitable for an industrial park in the middle of an open field, and meant to be used by adults, not by kids ages 11-14 or so!

It was built like a dark gray fortress---3 stories, pentagon shape. No accident that the photo in the article was taken from a helicopter---that was the only way you could see the thing whole. You'd only catch gray slab pieces of it as you looked down the nearby streets.

Barely visible narrow slits for windows on the outside, which is where the classrooms were located (the rooms were weirdly trapezoid in shape, given the shape of the building!). Therefore, all classrooms had to be constantly lighted with artificial lighting---not enough daylight could come in through those slits. Teachers soon learned that they had to lock the classroom door. Otherwise, some kid would open the door, turn off the lights, and all hell would break loose in the dark.

However, there WERE windows. It was a hollow pentagon, with a large grassy atrium in the middle. So all the inner walls were floor-to-ceiling windows. Unfortunately, those windows were where the corridors were. It soon became apparent that kids of that age were prone to horsing around as they walked to classes. To prevent someone from being shoved through those wonderful windows, they had to install thick plastic sheets over the glass, which severely curtailed the light and the view of the grassy atrium.

And the atrium? Lovely, with a wrought-iron gate leading from the street to a grassy space with benches, etc. Except that local troublemakers would go in there during off-school hours and have access to the school. Solution? Block the entrance to the atrium, both from the gate on the street and from the inner school doors.

But the mayor or the architect didn't have to send THEIR kids to school there! Form over function, and people with little common sense. Or a sense of being so wonderful and perfect that reality never entered their exalted world!

And finally, perhaps to show that human nature doesn't really change that much, and we have always inclined to demonize our opponents:

At the time of this brief anecdote,  I was still in college. The world was consumed by the Red Scare. The McCarthy hearings, the whole Communist question, etc.  I found it hard to comprehend the whole situation from the comfort of our easy American life in the 1950s. (That is, until I spent two years in Germany a few years later as an Army wife, and learned how precarious was my soldier husband's life if the Russians should invade the West!)

But, young and idealistic and ignorant of reality as I was at the time, I expressed to a dorm-mate that I couldn't believe that ALL the Russians were bad. Instead of having a discussion, she said, with a certain degree of contempt, "My God, Sylvia, are you a Communist?"

And walked away from me, obviously convinced at that moment that HER halo was bigger than MINE!