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Grouchy old white man pet peeves

May 10, 2011

Criticism of Barack Obama, no matter what stupid thing he does or what lie he utters, is frequently blamed on racist white men bitter about losing their power and money to a black man. The charge is reflexive for anybody on the political left, which, devoid of anything resembling an idea, commences yapping about racism the minute a Republican opens his mouth, and habitual for the mainstream media, which no longer provides any sort of intelligent analysis of presidential policy, but rather spends its time concocting new ways to accuse conservatives of being racists.

Just one question: how did I miss all that "power and money" stuff? Did I miss the meeting where they handed out free ATM cards and the secret list of juicy-jobs-reserved-for-white-men?

Okay, upon reflection, I confess to a certain amount of bitterness, but, honestly, it seems more about being an old white man than about being a racist white man. Old men, for whatever reason, seem to get a trifle grouchy and impatient about stupidity…

Today at lunch, I watched helplessly as a young lady – "counter personnel" it said on her Wendy’s name tag, in case she suddenly forgot where she was supposed to be – punched the button for ice, filled my cup to the brim with Coke, and then mashed the lid down over the ice, making a mess. Soda pop overflowed down the sides, soda pop bubbled up through the straw hole into a puddle on the lid, and soda pop soaked the paper place mat on my tray. Somehow, they never figure out that pushing the ice down makes the liquid rise. How is that possible? How many overflowed Cokes does it take to figure that out?

Every lunch, every time I go to a movie, everywhere, it’s the same thing. After they push the lid down on the ice and the Coke spills, I walk away trying to drink a drippy-ass Coke without getting it on my clothes. Here’s an inspirational thought, directed to "counter personnel" across America:
I wonder if Al Gore ever worked at Wendy's, because he doesn't get the ice thing either. He keeps saying if the Arctic ice cap melts the oceans will rise. No, Al, floating ice doesn't affect sea level – it's physics for God's sake – but if you push the ice down with a giant plastic lid over the North Pole, yes, sea level will rise. So don't do that.

Speaking of Cokes, why is the small called “medium,” the medium called “large,” and the large called “extra large?”

“What’s that then?” I said one day, pointing at a cup which was smaller than the “small.”

“Oh, that’s ‘child’ size,” said the perky cashier as she mashed a lid down, overflowing my Coke.

“Seems to me,” I replied, as she mopped up my Coke lid with a dish rag that looked like it was last washed in 1935, “that it doesn’t make sense to use ‘small,’ ‘medium,’ and ‘large’ as size names when you have four different sizes. But maybe that’s just me.”

“Yes,” she said.


“Uh huh!”

“’Yes,’ I’m right or ‘yes,’ it’s just me?”

“I don’t know. What was your question again, sir?”

Conversation with fast food workers is often like that – hardly worth the effort. Better to just take your soggy tray with your leaky Coke and whatever food they accidentally gave you and go find a table.

A long time ago I made the mistake of discussing arithmetic with a young man at Ole Taco in Michigan. The sales tax was 4% at the time, my meal was always $3.98, and when the cash register added the tax it always came to $4.15. You probably see the problem, because you wouldn’t visit this website if you weren’t intelligent enough to figger 4% of four dollars and understand it can’t be seventeen cents.

“Every time I eat here you steal a penny from me,” I said.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, sales tax is 4%, right? And we know that 4% of $3.98 can’t be more than sixteen cents, but you charge me seventeen cents.” Honestly, I was just making friendly conversation. I didn’t really want my penny back. But things took an ugly turn.

“Why can’t it be more than sixteen cents?” he asked.

“Because 4% of $4.00 is sixteen cents. And $3.98 is less than $4.00 so...”

“Sir, the cash register calculates the tax, so we know seventeen cents is correct.”

“What are you saying, that the answer from the machine is correct even if it violates the laws of mathematics?”

“I don’t know about any laws, and if you think a law has been broken go ahead and call the cops, but whoever programs the machine knows how to calculate sales tax. I know that much.”

“No, you don’t know that much! Son, surely you know how to multiply and can calculate four percent of four dollars without some machine telling you the answer. Use a pencil and paper if you have to!”

Based on his blank look, we were speaking entirely different languages. When I think on it now, years later, I hope that young man found contentment in life and isn’t consumed by the guilt of having voted for Obama.

And speaking of conversation with fast food workers, why are they always interrupting?

"Can I help you, sir?"

"Yes, I'll take a large…"

"Will this be for here or to go?"

"Uh, for here. I'll take a large chili and…"

"Do you want cheese and onions with that?"

"No! I want a large chili…"

"Is that another chili?"

"No! One large chili! And a small fry, and a large Coke with lots of ice, and please don't…"

"Did you say 'Without ice?'"

"No! Lots of ice! And please don't overfill the damn thing and mash the lid…"

"We don't have mashed potatoes, sir. We have baked potatoes. Oops, let me mop up some of this Coke for you."

Just thinking about it makes my blood pressure rise. Sometimes I try to avoid the frustration by visiting higher class joints, where they wait on you, but then I run into something even worse: singing waitresses. You know what I mean, those condescending too-happy crapturds who can't talk without singing. It's like they're addressing a retarded baby and I'm the retarded baby.

"HELL-ooo! How are YOOOO to-daaa-AAA?"

Sometimes I just growl at them.

The worst crime in the food business is committed by pizza places. Arguably the most perfect food ever invented, pizza has been ruined because they won't put sauce on the doggone things. Frenzied competition has boiled pizza profit margins down so low that the only way they make money is to sell you a big flat cracker with a huge glob of melted cheese on top… and just enough tidbits nestled in the cheese slick to make you think you got something. Watch them make a pizza. First they roll out the crust, then they take a tiny little thimble-sized ladle of sauce and spread it around – barely enough to add a pink tinge to the dough if you look through a microscope – and then they reach under the counter for a big snow shovel and heap about fifty pounds of cheese over the pinkish smear of sauce. Voila! Enjoy your cheese heart attack.

When I walk into a pizza place I talk to them like they're deaf and dumb, repeat myself until there's no doubt, and then make them read the order back to me: EXTRA sauce, LIGHT on the cheese. Every pizza comes back the same way: EXTRA cheese, LIGHT on the sauce. It's enough to make me scream.

Maybe I'm too grouchy to eat out. Maybe I should simply stay home. That way I could avoid the road rage which is almost as bad as my food rage.

Here in Reno we have normal driving frustrations, plus we have swarms of California drivers who sneak across the border to irritate, discombobulate, and threaten us. I don't know why, but Californians are the worst drivers in the world. Maybe they don't have drivers training like the rest of America, or maybe the mental disease that inspired them to re-elect Barbara Boxer and give Jerry Brown another try as governor also infects their driving. All I know is this: it's not guaranteed that you will extend your lifespan by steering as far as possible from every California license plate you see, but it couldn't hurt.

Another thing that sends me ballistic is 15 mph speed limits in school zones. Nobody begrudges a requirement to slow down for kids, but 15 mph is too slow. At 15 mph your car engine barely functions, your cruise control won't work, and the kids walking to school are passing you. At 15 mph I see people stepping out of moving cars and checking the air pressure in their tires, just for something to do. One day, in the school zone I drive through every day, I saw a woman get out of her car, walk back to her house for something she forgot, and catch up to her car before it moved far enough to matter. There's one guy I know who starts his car through the school zone before his morning shower, then catches up to it later when he's clean – he swears it saves him fifteen minutes every morning, but I question whether the process is making the kids safer.

I'm not sure the damn kids need protection anyway. Almost nobody walks to school anymore. I live about half a mile from an elementary school, and every morning face a street that is bumper to bumper with moms and dads driving their spoiled little brats to school. I sit there pounding on my steering wheel, unable to get out of the driveway. Why can't they walk, for God's sake? Based on the chubby little cheeks I see rolling by, most of them could use a good walk.

No wonder we have so many disabled people in America – they probably got driven to school every day until their legs atrophied. Like those fat people who drive electric shopping carts in Wal-Mart… bet they were driven to school. Sometimes I wonder what happens if the battery goes dead while they're cruising the ice cream aisle. Do they have to be rescued by St. Bernards with little kegs of schnapps tied to their collars, or do they climb out of the cart and try to walk for it?

I know, I know, it seems harsh to be crabby about disabled people, but dammit, a man gets sick of bending over to use knee-high ATM machines and prancing up and down stairways where the steps are only half as high as they should be and reading about all the dumbass lawsuits like the one that forced a professional baseball team to put handicapped ramps into the dugouts in case someday they hire a disabled baseball player. (Yes, that really happened.)

Every time the idiot politicians extend affirmative action to a new sub-group the fakers and scam-artists take advantage. When they passed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, I don’t think they had fat people in electric Wal-Mart shopping carts in mind, but there they are, tooling around the store basking in the glory of their ADA rights. I hope Wal-Mart is prepared for the first non-English-speaking illegal-alien Muslim gay fat man customer – that dude is gonna require a very special cart.

Everybody deserves a leg up except me, the grouchy old white man, apparently. Even women get special treatment for being a "minority." Anybody else wonder how women can be a minority when there are more of them? How does that make sense? Not only are there more women than men, they receive more college degrees, they live longer, they get all the benefits and none of the costs in child custody cases, and, when you factor out the effects of career choices, they even get paid more money than men. Yet I have to listen to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor slandering white men: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male..."

I have hopes, too, Sonia. I hope that someday you get a clue, I hope somebody reminds you that it was “white males” who set up the legal system that guarantees your right to be an ass, and I hope that a few people of color and a few women – at least a few – felt uncomfortable with your bigoted, ignorant comments.

People forget that white men have crosses to bear, just like anybody else. I'm 6'1" tall and most of the clothes for sale in America are made in Southeast or Pacific Asia. Guess how that works out. I can buy a shirt in size large and live with sleeves that end halfway down my forearms, or I can buy size extra-large and live with two or three square yards of loose material flapping around my waist. I've already written about the misery of airplane seats for somebody my size. I’ll bet the little Malaysian women who make my shirts are quite comfortable in those seats… maybe I’ll run into one of them on a plane someday and show her my sleeves.

Honestly, the list of things that chap my ass gets longer every year. Grocery store coupons and discount cards (How about just putting a price on the food and sticking to it?), TV commercials that are louder than the show (What, you think I won’t get irritated and change the channel?), people who sit right behind me in a nearly empty movie theatre (Hey, dufus, you couldn’t find a seat somewhere else, where you won’t be farting on the back of my head?), politicians who take credit for something they did with my money (Yo, thief, I can spend my own money, okay?), people who have cell phone conversations on speakerphone…

Trust me, I know I'm getting grouchy as I get older, but it's not because there's a black man in the White House. It's because there's a communist in the White House, and that's the stupidest thing of all.

From Reno, Nevada, USA

June 4, 2011 - Don't you know that right-wing radicals are behind most of the incidents you complain about? Take the ice for instance. Some greedy Republican business owner knows that water is cheaper than coke, so he instructs all his counter help to fill all the cups with maximum ice. And the guy who aggravates you about cheese and onions... He's the guy that got laid off at the vinyl plant when it was sent overseas. He's just getting even. - Oy Veh, Nashville

May 12, 2011 - Good Mornin Ya Grumpy Ol' Cracker loved your article was sent to me by a fellow patriot & Cousin I'm hooked your in my fav's Stay whit & Stay Brite - BBJohn, San Diego

May 11, 2011 - Grouchy old woman here lol - Floss B., Michigan

May 11, 2011 - You can deny all you want, but we know why you hate Obama. It's all about him being black. Racists never want to admit it. I'm sure you wear your white sheet at night just like the rest of them. - Telling The Truth, California

May 10, 2011 - Love it! Congrats on your new radio gig!!! - Lynne S., Illinois

May 10, 2011 - God, it's like you were taking the pet peeves right out of my head! The overflowing sodas, the pizzas with no sauce, the ridiculous 15 mph... oh no, does this mean I'm becoming a grouchy old white man? BUT I'M ONLY 35! Thanks for making me laugh out loud. - William, West Virginia

May 10, 2011 - Thank you, JP... finally. Laughed my a** off on the way to work this morning. Made me forget about the nervousness I'm feeling about having to sing the 'national anthem today. BTW, you definitely are getting 'crabbier' if that's even possible. - G.G., Reno

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