charlie

Long-time readers (for whom I am grateful) may recall Thanksgiving columns have often been homilies on how choosing an attitude of gratitude lessens stress, enhances enjoyment of life. (Too, long-time readers may not recall any such thing – what with op-eds having the same lifespan as grease in the bowels of a goose.)

In any event, a different tack is being taken this holiday. In keeping with the negativity that pollutes today’s social conversations (especially digital conversations), I’m chiming in with a list of personal aggravations:

• Bickering workers.

Self-important people often lose control after deigning to grace a drive-thru with their royal presence and winding up with a single cheeseburger instead of a double. Not me. I don’t desire that checkers, stockers, waitstaff or window-hander-outers treat me as if I am the center of their universe. Ignoring me is fine. I do, however, expect to be spared overhearing their debates about whose break is next, who stayed too long on break or their banter about how much they hate their jobs.

My heart goes out to these folks. They work bizarre hours and all holidays. They have to deal with arbitrary bosses, customers who seem to delight in making messes and the aforementioned insufferable patrons. That said, my money is hard-earned, too, and I should be able to spend it without hearing them squabble.

• Cold fries.

Whether at home or out on the town, nothing has a shorter shelf life than a French fry. They are sticks of golden deliciousness as soon as they cool just enough not to burn. Too rapidly, though, they lapse into flaccid strips of mush.

And they cannot be reheated. Don’t even try.

• Frou-frou dogs.

Don’t mistake me. This category does not include all small dogs. A small dog with sufficient pluck and pride can be as fast a friend as a big dog.

I’m talking about ornamental dogs, needy dogs, dogs that whine about everything and pee if you say, “Boo.”

• Anyone who would be mean to any animal.

As long as we’re on the subject, be clear that if a person chooses to “wear” a frou-frou dog, that’s fine. I respect the choice.

What’s not acceptable is being cruel — and that includes indifferent — to any pet large or small, feathered or furred or whatever. And that includes all other animals, too. Like it or not, humans are stewards of the planet and the job comes with one simple requirement: Decency.

• Red wasps.

Nothing previously said about animals applies to red wasps. They have no redeeming qualities and should be caused to die early and often.

• Upselling.

I know, I know, the boss says do it, so you have to do it. It is wearisome, though, when I buy a six-pack of pencils at the office supply store and must formally waive the three-year extended maintenance plan. (Too, I’m naturally wary of any price with the word “just” before it.)

And car warranties. If Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley ever does find a way to enforce the no-call list, unemployment rates are going to skyrocket in several countries where no one – including the telemarketers – speaks English.

These days everybody upsells. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that a patient checking into a hospital for an appendectomy is offered a couple of stents and a kidney transplant, too. “As long as we’re in there….”

• Worn-out crosswalk stripes.

Petty? You bet.

More than one mayor has looked at me strangely when I’ve suggested freshly marked streets (especially crosswalks) really improve the overlook look and feel of a city. Faded and missing markings smack of indifference.

Each time I have voiced that complaint, I’ve remembered my dear old Dad’s appreciation of the basics. When I was in elementary school I would sometimes bring home less than perfect grades in (surprise, surprise) “conduct.” My well-behaved father was slow to anger, slower to criticize. His life was the model “attitude of gratitude.” Frustrated with me, he would say, “If you can’t do anything else, at least you could sit there with your mouth shut.”

And that’s a little bit like my message to mayors. “I know you have tugs and pulls and pushes and shoves, and I know it’s impossible to be all things to all people, but keeping the crosswalks and parking slots painted? How hard is that?”

In closing, please accept my sincere hopes that everyone does take a moment and think about all for which we should be grateful.

Right after lunch, though, meet me on social media — and we’ll complain about anything and everything.

CHARLIE MITCHELL  is a Mississippi journalist. Write to him at cmitchell43@yahoo.com.

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