Tag Archives: Peeves

Why winter is an asshole

I really do not understand people who love winter. “It’s so magical!” “It’s so beautiful!” “All the warm, fuzzy clothes!” No. No way. Winter is a hellish bastard of a season, and it needs to end as quickly as possible. Here’s why:

-Snow. Yes, snow is pretty when it’s delicately perched on tree limbs and blanketing the rolling hills in white. However, snow does not exist only in postcards. In order to navigate through your life when there’s snow, you have to figure out a way to get around it, through it, over it, or exert an absurd amount of energy making it go away. And then you have the added bonus that everyone forgets how to drive, and you can count on almost being run off the road by a douche who thinks that 4-wheel drive makes them freaking Zeus on his chariot, with no regard for the lesser beings who are trying to survive everyone else’s stupidity.

-Everything is cold and wet. Your feet. The floor. Your hair. The dogs. The hem of your pants. There’s just this frigid, soggy mess that attaches itself to every damn thing and won’t go away until April.

-Bundling up. Dude, it is a pain in the ASS to wear fifty layers of clothes every day. Locating lost gloves. Finding a coat that fits over the giant sweater. Having a thousand pairs of socks because the ones you’re wearing will eventually be cold and wet.

-Christmas. Yeah, I hate Christmas. I’m Jewish and I work in retail. I hate Christmas carols, I hate red and green, I hate the forced cheeriness, I hate Santa. Yes, I hate Santa. He creeps me out. I hate claymation Christmas cartoons and It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story for a month straight. And then I hate the Christmas aftermath. I don’t get how people can make a one day holiday last for ten weeks. It’s absurd.

-Heat is freaking expensive. Heating a house costs a ton of money. And you never really shake the chill in your bones.

-Driving becomes ridiculous. Aside from the aforementioned driving in snow shenanigans, now you have to warm up the car, scrape the windshield, make sure you have a shovel and some ice melter or kitty litter in the trunk. You go through windshield washer fluid like crazy, because everything has a dirty, sludgy film on it. Your floor mats become sponges for dirty, cold, wet stuff that sticks to your boots.

-It’s pitch black at 4:30 pm. Come on. My light therapy box can only do so much. Where’s the freaking sun?

Should I move away from here to somewhere that has less dramatically differing seasons? Probably. Is it easier to stay here and bitch about it? Absolutely. Plus, winter sucks so much that it makes me appreciate summer that much more.

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Why the grocery store is the fifth level of Hell

  • The aisles are barely wide enough for two carts to pass each other, often leading to an awkward dance of back up, pivot slightly, push forward, hit something, back up again, lather, rinse, repeat. I realize that narrower aisles mean more real estate for consumer goods, but the aisle situation is just annoying.
  • People who leave their shopping carts randomly strewn about the parking lot. The corral is RIGHT THERE, and I bet if it were your car getting battered by a runaway cart, you’d be pretty pissed. Lazy douchebags.
  • Those goddamned kiddie shopping carts that are shaped like cars and are twice as wide as regular shopping carts. There’s no possible way to share an aisle with one of those things without being assaulted by it in some way.
  • People who use shopping carts as weapons are fucking assholes. A polite “Excuse me” works just as well as ramming your cart into the back of someone’s legs.
  • OH MY GOD IF YOU CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO USE THE SELF-CHECKOUT, PLEASE GO TO A LANE WITH AN ACTUAL HUMAN CASHIER. The process of ringing up a basket of ten items or fewer should not take more than three minutes or so. If you can’t quite grasp what to do when the robot voice tells you to “move your red onion to the belt,” then please just realize that the self-checkout is not meant for you.
  • People who let their kids run wild. I hate it everywhere, but twice as much in the grocery store. Leash the kid to the cart if you have to. Hell, use one of those monstrous abomination kiddie carts. Just keep them out of my way and not throwing shit from the shelves onto the floor.
  • This may only apply to those of us who live in college towns: the gaggles of carbon-copy sororiwhores, decked out in their finest pajama pants and flip-flops, walking three wide, blocking the entire aisle, comparing the calorie counts on Diet Mega Pepsi Maxxx Zero and Coke Cancer.  Their carts always contain: a case of bottled water, lots of diet soda, and six thousand kinds of yogurt.
  • Just once, I would like to walk out of the grocery store without being pestered to donate to this or that, sign some petition, or buy some overpriced useless crap to send the local school club to whatever place they’re going this year. (And, frankly, parents? Pay for that shit yourself. Not my fucking problem.) The donation thing bothers me the most because I do donate to things. I have a budget for it and everything. I don’t do it with coins, though, and I don’t do it outside of the grocery store. Don’t try to make me feel like a bad person for walking by you. I generally only have my driver’s license and debit card on me to begin with, and you don’t have any clue what I gave to the animal shelter this month, so back off, please.
  • The combination of fluorescent lights, perplexing Muzak choices, too many people who are always too loud and too close, the inability to find the one item you were looking for without backtracking halfway through the store, and the constant assault on every sense in every way imaginable is just a panic attack waiting to happen.
  • Grocery delivery services just aren’t for me. The selection of items never quite includes what I’m looking for, I like to pick out my own produce, and I generally “meal plan” around whatever ingredient looks interesting as I’m wandering the aisles. I’m sure, given time, grocery delivery will be perfected, and I’ll use the hell out of it then, but until that day, I need to actually get my ass to the store itself.

I’m one of those people who is thrilled about the gradual shift to an all-automated grocery shopping experience. Yes, as someone who works in retail, I do worry for the jobs being replaced by deli kiosks, self-checkouts, and those magical scan-as-you-shop guns, but frankly, grocery stores even before these things were invented were always wildly understaffed, so I think that they aren’t so much replacing jobs as supplementing them. I love placing my deli order by touch screen, then coming back for it later. I love scanning each item before it goes in the cart so I can see a running tally of how much I’ve spent. I love breezing through the self-checkout with a swipe of the debit card and being on my merry way. It’s all so civilized. You know, except for the other people.

I hate your voicemail

You probably have no idea how annoying your outgoing voicemail greeting is. Or you do, and just don’t give a fuck. Either way, I can pretty much guarantee that, from the perspective of someone who makes often hundreds of phone calls a day, your voicemail is just awful. And here’s why:

  • You have a “ringback.” When someone calls your cell phone, an automated voice tells them to “Please enjoy the music while [their] party is being reached.” Then music of your choice is played in their ear. Here’s the thing: no matter what you’ve chosen, it sucks. It’s a shitty song, played on a shitty half-a-chorus loop, and it makes me want to blow my damn brains out.
  • Your outgoing message is forty minutes long. Listen, it’s voicemail. Everyone knows how it fucking works. “This is [name], please leave a message” is perfectly adequate. As opposed to this: “Hello,  you’ve reached the Jones family, and this is our answering machine! We’re too busy to take your call, or we don’t want to talk to you! {chuckles} If you’d like to leave a message for John, Joan, Jack, Jenny, or Spot, please leave your name, phone number, time you called, and message, and we’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible. If you are a telemarketer or are trying to sell us anything, please remove this number from your dialing list and never call again, or we will seek action under the Federal Do Not Call List. For everyone else, we’ll call you back! Have a nice day! Bye!” So. Fucking. Unnecessary. For fuck’s sake.
  • You let your barely verbal child leave the message. “Burble burble mehmeh ggllllggguh BAH BAH BAH BAH Jones fammy weev meffige BYYYYYYEEEE.” This is cute to no one but you. I promise you that.
  • Your voicemail doesn’t pick up until ten rings in. OH MY GOD DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG THAT IS WHEN I HAVE TO MAKE FOUR THOUSAND MILLION PHONE CALLS?
  • Each person in the family shouts their name into the phone, in succession. Too many voices. Too much volume. Let’s just keep the shouting to a minimum all around; can we do that, please?
  • This one is not your fault, but it’s still unbearably annoying. This one is entirely on the cell phone providers. The neverending menu of choices after your outgoing message has ended is just ridiculous. No one ever presses 5 to leave a callback number. No one ever sends a numeric page. No one ever needs to do anything except leave a message, so just cut the shit, cellphone companies, all right?

Now, I think it’s only fair that I tell you what a good voicemail greeting is. As far as I’m concerned, you have two choices, really:

  1. The aforementioned, “This is [name], please leave a message.” Short, straightforward, and to the point. Simplicity is key here.
  2. The robot voice. I love the robot voice. We’re close friends. The robot voice tells me your phone number, and tells me you’re unavailable, then lets me do my thing. The robot voice doesn’t think it’s funny or clever. The robot voice doesn’t try to impress me. It’s simple, direct, and easy to understand. It doesn’t waste my time. We should all aspire to be more like the robot voice.

How to update your Facebook status without being a jackass

Yes, I am fully aware that my Facebook status updates are often unnecessary and/or annoying. And, yes, I see that there is a fair bit of hypocrisy involved with me writing about annoying Facebook status updates, but if it’s really a problem for you, feel free to write a blog about how you hate reading someone’s rants on entitled douchebag college kids from New Jersey or bitching about, well, everything imaginable. That said, here are a few types of status updates I’m really sick of seeing:

  • The passive-aggressive: “LOL I just love how [SOME PEOPLE] do [CERTAIN THINGS] and then expect [ME] to do [SOMETHING ELSE]. Must be nice!!! LOL!!! LOL!!!” First of all, fuck off and die with the LOLs. For real. Second, if you’re that pissed off about something that you need to devote your Facebook status to it, just come out and say it. Passive-aggression is lazy and uninteresting,
  • The overshare: personal version: “Had too much Taco Bell last night, and now everything’s making a ‘run for the border.’ Get it? I’M SHITTING NONSTOP. I CAN’T GET OFF THE TOILET.” No one wants to hear about the state of your: bowels, uterus, primary or secondary sex characteristics, or foot fungus. Keep it between you and your doctor.
  • The overshare: offspring version: All of those things people don’t want to hear about you? They really don’t want to hear it about your kids. I’m going to be the one to go ahead and break this to parents all across Facebook-land: the only people interested in knowing the progress of a child’s potty training are that child’s parents. Not the world at large. And sure as hell not with pictures. WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT WHY ARE THERE PICTURES OF POOP OH MY GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?
  • The overshare: pregnancy version: People are happy you’re having a baby. They’re generally glad for vague updates or big news (Two weeks left! It’s a girl!) Whatever. That’s all fine. Minute-by-minute updates are just tedious; and coy, barely-disguised references to your bodily changes or functions are just gross and unnecessary. Lots of people are creeped out by sonogram pictures as profile pictures, too. I’m just saying.
  • The political: In the spirit of full disclosure: I am completely guilty of this one. And I’ve been defriended, “hidden,” had nasty wall posts about it; all sorts of things. Those are the risks you run when you use Facebook as a political platform and take a decisive stand on a controversial issue. Especially if you know that many of the people on your friends list hold different political views. If you’re looking to spark a discussion, or a fight, this is the quickest way to do it. Be warned, though: political posts really bring out the nastier sides of people.
  • The “please save that for the divorce papers” (bonus if it’s from a spouse’s hacked account): “John Doe is a lying, cheating scumbag who doesn’t care about his wife and beautiful children and would rather sneak off to screw dirty hookers than enjoy the love his family wanted to provide.” Dudes. Seriously. If you have any friends in common, you’re making it very uncomfortable for them. For everyone else, you’re providing endless entertainment.
  • The catfight (gender-neutral): “Jane Smith thinks that bitches need to stop hanging all over her man. He HAS a real woman and doesn’t need your tacky-ass bad dye job-having too-small jeans-wearing slut ass self.” “Joe Jones is going to fucking murder the next fucker who looks at his girl. That means you, bro at the party with the blue striped shirt on. I will find you.” This, while often tremendously amusing, is just stupid. If you’re so insecure in your relationship that you need to call people out on Facebook, perhaps there are larger issues at hand.
  • The vague complaint that’s just begging for attention and reassurance: “SO WORRIED about the news. Hoping this time is better.” “Not sure how much more I can take! I’m at the end of my rope!” “Feeling really ugly and sad today. I guess I should know better than to be loved and appreciated.” Honestly, people, I would have so much respect for someone who posted, “You know what? I really need attention right now. Can people please make comments about how beautiful and strong and what a good person/spouse/parent I am? Thanks.” Because that’s what those status updates so obviously are. Cries for attention. Which is cool, but be up front about it.
  • The schmoopy: We get it. You love your significant other. It’s great, really. Love is pretty awesome. Letting other people know you love your significant other is pretty awesome too. Just keep it, you know, non-vomit-inducing. There’s a world of difference between, “I have the best husband in the world! He made such a good dinner tonight!” and “OMG I’m soooo lucky that the love of my life is always there to make me the happiest person ever!!! Kisses and hugs forever, honeybear!!!!” I don’t need to tell you that.
  • The “If you think ______ and support _______, copy and paste this as your status. 95% of people won’t. Are you a strong enough person to take a stand?”: These status updates need to die. After being beaten soundly with a baseball bat. It’s good to feel ways about stuff, but these copy and paste updates are tedious and annoying.

Other places to make fun of Facebook status updates:
Failbook
Lamebook
STFU, Parents
STFU, Couples

Grammar peeve roundup

A random collection of the correct way to say the most common grammar mistakes that piss me off. A sampling, if you will. This is in no way comprehensive, and I reserve the right to bitch about even more stuff later. The correct phrases and spellings are in bold; the common fuckups are in parentheses.

  • Blessing in disguise (not “blessing in the skies”)
  • I couldn’t care less (If you could care less, why bother telling me?)
  • Scapegoat (not “escape goat”)
  • Toe the line (not “tow the line”)
  • Fazed (if something disconcerts, disturbs, or mildly frightens you, it fazes you. It does not “phase” you)
  • Could have, should have, would have (not “could of, should of, would of”)
  • Bawl (to cry loudly is to bawl, not to “ball.”)
  • Vocal cords (not “vocal chords”)
  • For all intents and purposes (not “For all intensive purposes”)
  • A whole other. (not “a whole nother.” There’s no such thing as a nother.)
  • And, for fuck’s sake, “literally” means it actually happened or is actually true! “Figuratively” is to be used when you’re using a phrase to make a point. If your arms were “literally” falling off because the weights you were lifting were too heavy, get your ass to an ER and have that shit reattached.

The complete idiot’s guide to booking appointments

Actual (well, maybe slightly fictionalized) transcript of about twenty billion conversations I’ve had while cheerfully and efficiently booking appointments for clients (No, really, I’m very efficient. And generally cheerful, or at least painstakingly professional. Shut up. I am.):

Me: Thank you for calling [place of employment], this is [my name].

Voice on the other end of the phone (we’ll call her “Client” for brevity): I’d like to make an appointment.

Me: Sure, for what service?

Client: A pedicure.

Me: Do you need a particular day or time?

Client: Nope.

Me: I have Thursday at 11am or 2:30pm.

Client: Oh, I wanted something in September.

Me: Did you have a day in mind?

Client: Nope.

Me: I have Thursday the 2nd available at 10, 1, or 3:30.

Client: I was looking for something around the 14th or so.

Me: OK… I have the 14th at noon, 2:00, 2:45, or 4:30.

Client: Well, I don’t get out of work until 5.

Me: So what time could you be here for?

Client: Well, 5:30. Unless there’s traffic. So 5:45. Except on Tuesdays. Tuesdays, little Bratley has croquet lessons until 6:30. And Thursdays, Princess has ballet until 6, then violin until 8. She’s a wonderful violin player. But we don’t get home until 8:30, and I supposed you’re closed by then. Wednesdays, my husband works from home, so he can bring them to underwater basket weaving lessons. So I guess I can do a Wednesday. As long as it isn’t the 8th. I have a suspicious mole I’m getting looked at. It may require surgery. The doctor’s going to tell me, but I think it’s just from my vacations in the south of France when I was a child. So it’s probably nothing.

Me: …

… So, a Wednesday, mid-September, after 5:45?

Client: That’s what I said, isn’t it?

Me: I have Wednesday the 15th at 6pm.

Client: Perfect. I’ll take it.

(I take her name and phone number)
Me: So, that’s a pedicure, Wednesday, September 15th at 6 pm.

Client: Oh, and my sister’s coming, too.

Me: Can you please hold? *puts call on hold, smashes handset against desk several times while muttering old Yiddish curses. Takes call off of hold* Thank you for holding. I’m sorry, I was only looking for one appointment. I don’t have two available together that evening. Would you like me to check the following week?

Client: I guess.

Me: OK, I do have two pedicures available on Wednesday the 22nd at 5:45. Would that work?

Client: Sure.
(I take her sister’s information as well)

Client: Wait, is mine with Jane? I want to see Jane. Or Anna.

Me: Um, no. It wasn’t. Hang on a minute and I’ll check their schedules…OK, your appointment is with Jane, and your sister is with Anna. OK, so that’s TWO pedicures, Wednesday, September 22nd at 5:45, you’ll be seeing Jane, and your sister will be seeing Anna.

Client: Oh, we’re going to get massages too that night.

{KA-BOOM!!!}
Coworker: What was that?
Other coworker: I think her head just exploded. Her brain seems to be splattered against the wall.
——————————————————

Informational session:
How do we make my head not explode when booking appointments?

1. Tell me what you’re making an appointment for. If you’re calling the dentist, say that you’re booking for your cleaning or to get a cavity filled, or if calling the doctor, say it’s because you think you have the flu. If you want a pedicure or a haircut, tell me!

2. Give me the correct information when I ask. If you need a Wednesday after 5:45, when I ask, “Do you need a particular day or time?” THAT would be the time to tell me.

3. Give me ALL the information. Two people want appointments together? Let me know before I start looking. Do you want more than one service? Again, earlier in the conversation is better.

4. I don’t give a flying rat’s ass about your job, your kids, your husband, or your health problems. Just tell me when you can be here and/or when you can’t. Don’t tell me why.

5. Want a particular technician/hygienist/doctor? TELL ME THAT.

6. Don’t assume I have ESP. Seriously. I can’t read your mind. And based on our conversation, I really don’t want to.

In short, be polite. Be concise. Be specific. The person on the other end of the phone will thank you for it.

Retail employees are not lesser life forms

In the course of a day, how many people do you interact with whose job it is to provide you with some kind of service? The checker at the supermarket, the front desk staff at your dentist’s office, the salesperson at the store where you buy your jeans, the waitstaff at the restaurant… the list goes on and on. That’s a lot of people. I’m one of them.

Over the many, many years that I’ve been in one form of customer service or another, I’ve put up with a lot. A lot of abuse, a lot of corporate nonsense, a lot of workplace drama, and a lot of bullshit. I’m offering up a small list of things to keep in mind when dealing with the people on the other side of the counter, and I’m going to try to keep the swearing and rage under control, because I think those things undermine my point in this case:

  1. We are people. We have feelings, and thoughts, and all sorts of stuff like that. It would be great if you could deal with us like we’re people, not really lifelike-looking cash registers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to be best friends, but social niceties are always appreciated.
  2. It is so rude to approach someone when you’re on your cell phone. This especially applies to interactions where participation is required by both the customer and the employee. Checking in for your appointment? Get off the phone. Placing your deli order? Get off the phone. I get a lot of customers who are on the phone with me and simultaneously placing their coffee order at the drive-through at Dunkin’ Donuts. That’s, like, multi-layered rudeness.
  3. Don’t make assumptions about our intelligence or education. Seriously. More than half of the people I’ve worked with in customer service jobs have college degrees. The job market sucks. You do what you have to.
  4. The customer is not always right. Sometimes, the customer wants something that is really unreasonable or flat-out impossible. If you’re trying to resolve a problem, make sure you’re being realistic about what the situation actually is, and what the possible outcome could be. Demanding the world generally only results in disappointment for you and frustration for us.
  5. Be polite. This shouldn’t have to be spelled out like this, but trust me, it does. This applies times ten million if you have a complaint. An employee will (or should) always do whatever they can to resolve your issue, but like I said in point #1, we’re people. We will be way more willing to do so much more for you if you are calm, reasonable, and polite. Confrontations aren’t necessary for a vast majority of customer service problems, but walking into the issue screaming and swearing and expecting the worst just starts the whole interaction badly. Assume good intentions on our part, and we’ll assume them on yours.
  6. Know what the person in front of you can and cannot control. For the most part, the person you’re dealing with has absolutely nothing to do with the prices, the product, or the policies. In fact, lots of times, those things frustrate employees as much as they do customers, because they cause unnecessary conflict at the personal level. If you have a complaint with one of those things, please address it to the corporate offices, general manager, or owner. Your complaint will be more effective that way, since the person hearing it can actually do something about it.
  7. Don’t throw or shove things at us. This applies to credit cards, money, empty food containers you want us to put in the trash, and, well, everything. Don’t throw things. You’re not four years old. It happens enough that I had to put it on the list. Enough said. Hand things to other people politely.
  8. If you’re happy with the service we’ve given you, tell us. Better yet, tell our bosses. We so often hear only the negative things that we start to doubt that there are any positives. It’s a little sad, but sometimes a kind word from a customer can totally turn the day around.
  9. If you go somewhere a lot, get to know the people who work there. Don’t do it with the expectation of getting something extra, although that’s certainly not outside of the realm of possibility, but do it because it’ll make both of us a little happier. Plus, if you get to know the people you regularly deal with, if a problem does happen to arise, the resolution will be so much smoother and easier. Not to mention, it’s just nice. I cut all my hair off last week, and tons of my regular customers noticed and told me they liked it. That just made for a bunch of awesome little moments in the middle of some tough days.
  10. Put yourselves in our place for a moment. If you’ve never had to work a customer service job, that’s great. But most people have, and they seem to forget pretty quickly how awful it can be sometimes. I always try to be a good customer, and you know what? I get great service.