!!!Things That REALLY Piss Me Off
While I wanted to set off as a separate grouping all the things in life that truly do piss me off, I also wanted to give each of those items its own identity and not run them all together. And so, in this section called TTRPMO (Things That Really Piss Me Off) you’ll find several essays which fall under that general heading. If there are things that really piss you off that are not found among the following pages, I encourage you to send them along to me for consideration for inclusion in a possible second edition.

For the first two thirds of my life (or maybe it was only the first seven twelfths!) I was a pretty easy going, reasonably compliant and generally nonreactive kind of guy. You know, cut me off in traffic, show up late for a lunch appointment, accidently pee on my shoe, and I really didn’t get worked up in the least about it. When sales people on the phone were rude or just plain old stupid, I didn’t care. When my neighbors garbage was carried by the wind into my yard or when his dog took a dump in the middle of my drive way, again….no problem. I’d clean it up without protest because I understood that shit happens, so to speak. Life was just an uneaten bowl of Maryland hard shell crabs, and I had a big nutcracker, a big pile of strong napkins and an unlimited supply of cocktail sauce and drawn butter. Back then there wasn’t all that much anyone could do to anger the beast that I now know lay dormant inside me for so many years. But at some point in time I decided not to take it on the chin any longer and that I would respond to any acts I considered to be hostile or inappropriate. The beast had been let loose, and since then he’s been sniffing the air every waking minute of every day looking for acts of insensitivity, rudeness or arrogance (Really….he’s not slept a wink in quite some time!), and he is especially predisposed to go after anyone who is blatantly inconsiderate of others. 

Although I’m not one hundred percent sure, I think I can probably identify the moment when the beast actually broke out of his cage. I have a friend (a very good friend) whom I used to meet at the same restaurant on the same day every week at noon for lunch. I said “used to” not because I won’t have lunch with him anymore, but because both of our offices moved, and it would have been quite inconvenient to continue the weekly lunches. For the first several months of our weekly lunch, and as is my nature, I would arrive at the restaurant promptly at noon or often a few minutes early. Then I would sit there for ten or fifteen minutes, and sometimes longer, until my friend arrived always at the ready with some lame excuse as to why he was late. It was always a “the dog ate my homework” kind of moment which I accepted graciously and at face value for quite some time.

On one such lunch day the clock on the restaurant wall read 12:13, yet he was still nowhere in sight, so I said the hell with it and gave my lunch order to the waitress. He finally arrived and slid into the booth at about 12:18. About two or three minutes later the waitress stopped by our table to deliver my sandwich and to take my friend’s order. He was, to say the least, more than a little surprised that I had ordered without him. After the waitress left the table with his order I explained that since we started the standing lunch date several months ago, he had never – not even once – been on time. My time was valuable too, and I further explained that if he wanted to meet at 12:10 or 12:15 or even 12:18, that was fine with me, but playing the waiting game was no longer acceptable. Not so surprisingly, he was never more than a minute or two late after that.

That’s just one example of the many things that now piss me off, and I’m not so sure what it says about me as a person that I am able to write page after page after page (more than 200 typewritten pages in all!) about that particular subject. What I have learned, however, is that I’m not the only person who has a mental list of those things that punch their buttons, although I may be the first one to attempt to put it all in writing. My informal research would also seem to indicate that the older a person is, the longer is his list. (I should say, his or “her” list because I’ve found that women often have longer lists than men.) In other words, it would appear that the older we get, the less patience we have to deal with things not to our liking. I don’t know if this phenomenon has to do with older folks just having less patience, or perhaps it’s that our (I say “our” because I am now one of “them”!) capacity for absorbing things that piss us off has simply been maxed out with age. One other thing revealed by my minimal research is that it would also seem that my list, and the associated sense of outrage which accompanies it, is one of the longer more extensive lists you’ll find on planet Earth. Oh, yes. Once again I’m in the forefront!

At some point I was struck with the wonderful thought that wouldn’t it be a great idea to rate each of the things that piss me off? Accordingly, I have used a rating system which goes from 6 to 10 with ten being the highest or most aggravating. Accompanying the chapter titles in the “Things That Really Piss Me Off” section, you’ll see what I’ve called a “PMOQ” number (PMOQ for “Piss Me Off Quotient”). You’re probably asking, what happened to 1 through 5? The answer is simple. If it doesn’t rate a 6 or more, then it’s probably not worthy of discussion and inclusion in this book. Again, take note that the title used for this section is “Things That Really Piss Me Off” and not “Things I Find Somewhat or Moderately Unsettling.” What I’ll be talking about are things that REALLY piss me off! In other words, it’s visceral!

Like just about everything I write, I have tried to tell the story through my own eyes which I readily recognize may see things a tad differently than the average American (or Brit, or Aussie, or Mongolian or Afghani!) Over the course of many years, and like a fine quartz watch, these eyes have become attuned to the finer points of cynicism and skepticism while also being reasonably efficient in searching for some point of humor in just about any situation or circumstance. And while there is definitely a real message behind it all, I have tried to deliver my diatribes in a humorous manner that will, hopefully, better make my point and add to the reader’s enjoyment of the book.

Shortly after I began work on this project, it occurred to me that one important ingredient was sorely missing. What good would it do to identify and rant about all the things that pissed me off if there wasn’t some solution or remedial action I could take to correct the problem? That thought served to inspire what I think is a brilliant solution. Although I’ve never been to Krypton, Superman’s birthplace, and even though I’m not a Dell Comics Action Hero, I have taken the liberty of bestowing upon myself special Dell and Marvel comic book super hero powers that will enable me to instantly put in place any corrective course of action I may decide upon to address any of the problems and injustices that piss me off. Of course, these actions will be in force only for the time you’re reading this book, and even then you’ll need a very active imagination to get the full effect. So, come on….play along and humor me.   

The mere act of writing this TTRPMO section has provided me with a venting mechanism which has served to reduce my overall stress quotient, and that in turn will almost certainly extend my life by at least another ten or fifteen minutes beyond what may have been originally “scheduled”. And with that, let’s begin with some of the more benign things that really piss me off, and after that we’ll work our way up to the really big ones….the ones that cause me to experience shortness of breath and reddening of the face. You know what I mean because they’re most likely the same things that make you hyperventilate and your underwear feel just a wee bit tighter!

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