At the risk of flaunting my age and general crankiness for all to see, here is a list of things this old coot finds at least a little bit annoying in today’s world:
* Twenty-four-hour “news” channels whose “coverage” mostly consists not of correspondents bravely reporting on what’s happening in dangerous faraway places, but rather of a half-dozen people sitting around a comfortable studio table and endlessly telling us what they think about it.
* Speaking of which: The fact that hardly anyone on Fox or MSNBC or CNN or whatever ever makes any pretense anymore of honoring what used to be the sacred concept of journalistic objectivity. Walter Cronkite, where are you when we need you?
* The fact that my car is pretty much indistinguishable in shape and personality (if any) from everybody else’s I encounter these days, regardless of make or country of origin. Compare this to the days of my youth, when I could instantly tell if that garish vehicle a quarter-mile or so away on the highway was a ’57 Chevy or a ’62 DeSoto or whatever. (Yeah, I know. Those tail fins were pretty silly, reaching their most laughably extreme version on the ’59 Cadillac. But at least they had some personality.)
* The current state of the National Rifle Association — of which this old hunter was once a proud member, and whose American Rifleman magazine I used to read regularly — but which now seems to have become such a bastion of political extremism.
* The way prescription-drug manufacturers, which were once forbidden to advertise on TV, now flood the prime-time hours with their self-serving solicitations. Not to mention ambulance-chasing lawyers, who also used to be banned.
* The failure of some (though certainly not all) fast-food restaurants to include in their array of soft-drink machine offerings anything that includes neither sugar nor caffeine. Sorry, but Diet Coke doesn’t qualify. Neither does (non-diet) Sprite. Sometimes I’m reduced to creating a half-Sprite, half-water combination. Isn’t that pitiful?
* Speaking of water: People who go through life drinking only bottled water — and then filling landfills with millions of empty plastic bottles — at a time when towns like ours spend untold billions to make sure that the water coming out of our faucets is perfectly good.
* Breakfast waitresses who automatically start filling my cup with coffee, even though I haven’t asked for any (not to mention the fact that I drink decaf).
* TV commercials that feature SUVs recklessly crashing through pristine mountain streams, plowing up and down sand dunes, and otherwise damaging delicate ecosystems.
* Those aggressive drivers on the Pinehurst Traffic Circle who sometimes blithely cross those bumpy white lines to get ahead of others, even though that is not only unsafe but strictly forbidden. Not to mention rude.
* People who are always misusing the phrase “that begs the question.” (Trust me. It doesn’t mean what you think it does. Look it up.)
OK, so none of those things are exactly heartbreaking. But thanks for letting me get them off my chest.