Now and then, just because it’s my blog, and no one else’s, I get to use it just to vent, just to say what I find really irritating in daily life. That, and because, even though there is so much to say about politics and government these days, I do get fatigued with saying it. So, here goes: if you have never heard a guy of sufficient age to wear caps with statements like, “Don’t Forget My Senior Citizen Discount,” list things he would like to see disappear, here’s your chance. These are in no particular order, and not by any means exhaustive, just on my mind today.
Highway “work zones”
Don’t deny it. I know these get to you, too. I’m just going to describe what they are and why they cause me to lapse into rages. Last month, my wife and I were on a long road trip. Each stop on the trip had a purpose, some for career reasons (Hers, not mine: I’ve been out to pasture for a while now…) and some for family reasons. In the space of 13 days, we passed through (or stopped in) a total of eight different states, some of them twice, since we were making a round trip, and covered more than 2000 miles.
During this time, we traveled on mostly interstate highways, those ribbons of concrete or asphalt with limited access and multiple lanes in each direction, designed for high-speed travel. I drove at or just over the speed limit, which most often was 65 or 70 miles an hour (104 to 113 kph, for non-US readers) for fairly long stretches, when there suddenly would appear a temporary road sign, warning of a work zone for the next ___ miles, reduced speed for the duration of the work zone, blocked-off lanes, and, often, the threat of doubled fines for speeding throughout the zone.
No problem, right? Roads do have to be maintained, right? And surely an abundance of care would dictate slowing traffic. All good points! On the other hand, we passed through at least fifteen such zones on this trip, often at the cost of much travel time lost due to slow passage, and how many of these sites were actually being, you know…worked on? ONE. Driving on mostly weekdays, and almost exclusively during daylight hours, I counted exactly one of these work sites actually hosting workers. You protest that surely there were many places where a square of pavement had been removed, requiring closure of a lane so that unwary motorists would not fall in, or that paving in progress or incomplete bridges or whatever, but…no. Most of these areas just represented long stretches where barricades or orange barrels or traffic cones closed off lanes, causing congestion in the open lanes, and a slowdown of the highway in general, with no work apparent. And such, I suspect, is the condition of many roads during the summer months across the USA.
Hostility between generations based on stereotypical assumptions
I’ve mentioned that I am a member of the large group of the population that social scientists christened “baby boomers.” Once you know that, you know…well…uh, just that. You know how old I am within broad parameters, and you (may) know, more or less, conditions in the country when I passed through childhood, adolescence, etc. You do not know anything about my work habits, my likes or dislikes in food, cars, movies, vacations, etc. What you think you know is likely a collection of stereotypes picked up from satirical references in mass media or, increasingly, through social media.
What about you? Are you a so-called “millennial?’ Do you have a lackadaisical attitude toward work? Toward education? If you are a millennial, you probably (and rightly) resent it when people “size you up” thinking they can predict how you will work out in a certain situation, just by identifying your cohort of people of a similar age. People–all people–deserve to be seen as individuals. All will have their quirks and all will adhere to your stereotypes in some cases, but not all, and maybe not in many. And prejudging anyone based on such categorization is just as lazy and blameworthy as doing so by race or belief system.
Recently, I have seen several cartoons or written descriptions depicting older people enjoying long vacations and material wealth while criticizing younger people for a perceived lack of drive toward self-improvement and advancement. The younger generation, in turn, is depicted as unable through no fault of their own to get ahead. As is the case with stereotypes, generalizations can contain an element of truth; the danger is in overreliance on such generalizations and accepting them as givens.
Come on, junior. Maybe you think I (and others) never worked through years-long periods in jobs we didn’t really care for, making not enough money? And to those my own age, do you think Grandma and Grandpa’s generation never looked on us as a bit unmotivated? And to be fair, boomers had, and millennials have, challenges the other group does not grasp. We had a military draft and the expectations of “the greatest generation.” They have student debt many times worse than ours ever was, and they have a fast-changing labor market. It’ll all work out in the long run. And millennials, your time is coming–your children and grandchildren may not find you as coolly ironic as you would like. Deal with it.
And, in some much less wordy pronouncements, here are some daily irritants:
Loud TV commercials.
No explanation needed.
Common, correctible errors in spelling or diction.
These are legion, and too easy to avoid to be as prevalent as they are. “There” means in that physical or metaphorical place, or is used in the expression “there is” or “there are.” “Their” means “belonging to or related to ‘them.’ ” “They’re” means “they are.”
“Your” means “belonging to or related to you.” “Your sister” or “your car.” “You’re” means “you are.” “You’re my friend.” I recently saw (really) a social media argument that included the comment, “Your a idiot.” Wow. I can’t even bring myself to comment. If you are not literate, don’t expose yourself like this.
“To” is either a preposition or an indicator of an infinitive–i.e., “to the store,” or “to make some money.” “Two” is one more than one. “Too” is “in an excessive degree or amount,” as in “too tired” or “too slow.”
About a hundred things Donald Trump says often.
“Believe me.” Sorry, I don’t.
Any superlative, as in “the greatest,” the best,” or “the greatest in history…”
Oh, wait. I’m veering into politics again. Until next time…