Plus 2 Bonus Ones
Warning! This post may be offensive to some people. Especially the stupid ones.
When I turned 60 a few years back, I experienced an angst I had not felt before. It wasn’t there when I had my 30th birthday, or my 40th. It wasn’t there on my fiftieth birthday. But turning 60 was different. I suddenly became concerned with getting old.
Until my 60th I was content to live for today, to relish in my youthfulness (in my mind I was still 20), and embrace my life. But now I find myself pondering my place in this world, and the time I have left. Yes, I’m looking at things a little differently now.
As a young lad in my teens and twenties, I was impetuous, impertinent, and very impatient. I had a low tolerance for stupidity and for those a-holes who exhibited it. This sometimes got me into trouble. I tended to react, rather than ruminate on the reasons for their stupidity.
But over the years my patience grew, and I became more tolerant of morons, viewing them with sympathy and compassion. I asked more questions of the things around me, choosing to learn rather than judge. I learned more about me and the things that mattered to me. As I got a little older, into my 30’s, I took an interest in the world and the people in it. My knowledge also grew and I yearned to learn new things.
To my mother’s chagrin, I explored several different careers through my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Change was exciting and challenging to me, and I thrilled to try new opportunities, new concepts, and new foods! Everything was exciting. The world truly was my oyster!
A Change Of Perspective
But here I am today, at 62 years of age, and my view of the world around me has changed again. Maybe I’ve begun to revert to my younger, impatient 20’s. I find my patience is tested more frequently, especially with a segment of the population known as “customers”. One of the downfalls of working in the retail sector is having to deal with this particular branch of society. I have an expression that I like to share with anyone around me, usually ad nauseum; “This retail business would be great, if it wasn’t for customers!”
Because of some of my customer interactions, I’ve started to think about the things that piss me off. It’s not like I’m P.Oed all the time. I just happen to notice it more as I get older. I certainly don’t think of myself as some crotchety, grumpy old man. Far from it! Most days I’m still my charming, ebullient self. But man, there are times…
So I’ve decided to create a list. “My top 10 Old Person Pet Peeves”. And two bonus pet peeves. I suspect readers may find some common ground with some of these. There are a few universal pet peeves that will show up in this list. I’m under no illusions that my pet peeves are unique and far removed from everyone else’s! And having spent some 15 years or so working the retail sector, there are probably some that other retail workers will instantly identify with.
So without further ado, here is my list of my 10 old person pet peeves, in no particular order.
1. People Who Don’t Say “Thank You”
Might as well start with one of those retail old person pet peeves first! The people who can’t be bothered to say “thank you” when they’ve been helped by someone. Why is it so hard for some people to say those two little words of kindness? Is your life too miserable to muster up the energy to utter a couple of syllables? Do you think it’s a sign of weakness to display a bit of gratitude?
I’ve made a conscious effort over the past few years to let this little pet peeve go, by replying in a positive way to these poor, sad, miserable grumpkins. I try not to take their belligerence personally, instead responding with kindness and compassion. For example, when someone has approached me for assistance and chosen not to reply with gratitude, I’ll loudly exclaim “You’re welcome!” to their back as they walk away. That way I know that I took the high road and haven’t stooped to their miserable level. It’s all about being a good person, you know?
2. People Talking On Their Phones In Public Places With Speakerphone On
Another pet peeve that’s surely familiar to those who work in retail, but also familiar to every other customer in that retail establishment. Because apparently for some people, it’s too difficult to hold your mobile device up to your ear as you shop. It’s much easier to hold your phone down at waist level, or better yet, sitting on your grocery cart as you wheel about the store, with the volume cranked all the way up, while the person on the other end goes on about their trip to the proctologist. Usually completely unaware that their intimate conversation is being shared with everyone in the Produce section of Walmart.
The speakerphone pet peeve is similar to another one, so I’ll just combine them here. That is the folks who walk around in public having a loud conversation with someone through their Bluetooth earpiece. It’s always a little disconcerting when some guy is walking toward you while talking loudly about getting that report in by the end of the day, or there’ll be hell to pay. Or better yet, you approach a customer to see if they need assistance, not knowing that they’re in the middle of a conversation with someone you can’t see. As you ask them a question, they hold their hand up, palm in your face dismissively. So I usually don’t hang around.
Same thing when I’m engaged with someone, and they decide to answer their phone. That’s my cue to walk away. They have decided that the person on the other end is more important than me, so why would I hang around and wait? My time is more important.
3. Double Wrapped Meat At The Grocery Store
You probably didn’t expect that one, did you? Well, it’s my list!
Why does the butcher think that a package of chicken thighs is better protected with a double layer of film plastic? It’s chicken thighs, for goodness sake! I don’t plan on using them as a soccer ball, or mailing them to my sister in Calgary!
Excess plastic really bugs me. I really don’t like that we’re so damned dependent on the stuff, but we don’t seem to have an alternative. And film plastic doesn’t get recycled, even if you think it does. It’s true! That stuff just gets shipped over to China in our garbage and then shipped right back when they reject it. And then it gets chucked out with the rest of the garbage, or incinerated. And don’t even get me started on the rigid plastic packaging on products from Costco! Why does a thumb drive need to be encased in 16 inches of hardened plastic, sharp enough to cut potatoes with? Crazy right?!
Anyway, I wish they’d stop wrapping my meat in two layers of film plastic. Really annoying.
4. Cars Driving In The Fast Lane
Of all the infuriating things that stupid drivers do, cruising the fast lane (also called the “Passing Lane”!) is the stupidest. These are the drivers that fit into one of two categories. Either they’re completely oblivious to the other drivers around them, more concerned with finding their favourite track on their MP4, or they’re true blue a-holes who actually believe that they do own the road.
Actually there’s a third category of driver that’s even more infuriating; the person who insists on policing the fast lane. You know the one. If the speed limit is 90 kilometers per hour, they’ll be cruising the fast lane at 89 KPH, just making sure that no one else is irresponsibly breakin’ the law. And they just love being at the head of a parade. It’s all about control with these folks. Damn them all to hell!
5. Stupid Questions
You know that expression that someone says when they’re teaching a class or a group of people how to do something they’ve never done before? “There are no stupid questions!” Yes there are. Lots of them.
A stupid question is basically a question asked because the person isn’t listening, or has not considered the question first. If someone is genuinely not understanding what is being said and they ask a question, it isn’t a stupid one. So I tend to believe that stupid questions are asked by stupid people, or someone in a moment of stupidity. Would you like an example? Okay, but for goodness sake, pay attention!
Let’s say I’m showing someone the correct way to prepare bread dough for baking. I’m in the process of demonstrating the measuring process for their flour, water, salt and yeast. The person I’m explaining to stops me and asks, “Excuse me esteemed teacher? Does the flour need to be sifted, or can I just add it as is?” Good question! Not stupid at all. They’re paying attention but looking for a bit more detail to make the process easier to understand. Good job, student!
Now the other student, Billy, looks up from his phone, staring blankly at me. His mouth hangs open, lips quivering slightly. Billy’s eyes slowly regain focus as his lips begin to form shapes. “So like, teacher dude, if I mix the flour and the yeast, and then the ammonia, is the explosion strong enough to blow up Old Man McGillicuddy’s garden shed?” What!!?? Are you…? Did that…?!
So yes, stupid questions exist. As do the stupid people who ask them.
6. People Who Don’t Wash Their Hands After Using The Toilet
I mean seriously? This shouldn’t even be a thing, but here we are. I find it very disturbing when I’m in a public washroom, doing my thing, and the guy at the stall next to me flushes and walks out the door whistling a happy tune. What the hell man? I am not shaking your hand!
And if any of you reading this are thinking, “What’s the big deal? It’s my body.” (Would people actually say that? Probably not…) First of all, get back in there and wash your damn hands!
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I usually require the use of my hands at some point in the process. I will use those same hands later on for the consumption of food, for greeting long lost friends, or for bitch-slapping someone guilty of Pet Peeve #2. So I have the courtesy and common sense to wash my hands after the deed is done. I will also wash them again after the deed is done from Pet Peeve #2!
7. Telus Internet Service
Two weeks ago, my family and I sat down to watch the premiere of a long-anticipated show on Amazon Prime. We were all very excited, and the delicious anticipation for what was about to come was palpable. This was going to be awesome!
Except it wasn’t. About 2 minutes into the show, the screen froze and the spinning circle of frustration appeared, slowly turning. The dreaded buffer! And after about 15 seconds the show resumed. Until the next time less than 5 minutes later.
This carried on for the remainder of the show, constantly freezing and spinning. We even got booted off Amazon a couple of times with the “Something went wrong” graphic sprawled across the screen. I sat there quietly stewing, plotting my revenge. I would call up Telus the next morning and give them a piece of my mind. Then I would threaten to cancel my subscription unless they reimbursed me for my trouble. Then I would cancel my subscription anyway, taking my business to a much better Internet Service Provider. That’s exactly what I would do!
Except I didn’t. You see, I knew I was trapped. There was no getting out of it. If I made that call, I would still be on the phone, bounced from person to person, sitting on hold and listening to obnoxious canned music on a continuous 30 second loop. At the end of it all, Telus would offer me a $10 discount off my bill for the next 6 months, my service would get marginally better, and then it would start all over again. How do I know this? Because I’m living it! This is my personal Groundhog Day! A pox on you, Telus!
8. Science Deniers
The world has become a pretty crazy place since 2020. The never-ending pandemic has created so many challenges, from supply chain issues, to staff shortages, to the loss of common sense. Who would have thought that toilet paper memes would be a Twitter trend?
COVID-19 revealed just how fragile our supply chain really is. I just never imagined that it would also expose the depth of people’s inability or reluctance to understand science. This seems to take us back to the whole “stupid people” issue. I think there’s a correlation…
I find it incredibly distressing seeing the COVID pandemic politicized in such a blatant manner. Starting with a group of so called “medical professionals” hosting a press conference in Washington on the use of untested drugs for a fake pandemic, to a bogus “documentary” on the unleashing of a manufactured pandemic on the world, to the rise of fake science and its distribution on social media. Hello people!? Are you really so stupid?
I’ve gotten into arguments with a few friends on Facebook over fake science. Pointless arguments that do nothing but frustrate me. People present me with bogus studies and random YouTube videos to bolster their position, all done with junk science. And they believe this tripe! More than one friend has disappointed me, and it’s terribly sad. If you question something, fine. The problem is, a science denier will go in search of posts and articles that support their position, rather than looking for information that contradicts. The opposite of what a scientist will do. They will test their theories by observing and rigorously testing, with a healthy dose of skepticism. Otherwise known as the Scientific Method.
Who You Calling “Sheeple?!”
A science denier will rely on conspiracy theories, cherry-picking evidence, illogical reasoning and the lack of perfect science. They’ll tell you they’ve done their research and have backed it up with all the facts. They’ll post it all on Facebook and refuse to cite their “facts” with any attribution. When you call them on it, they’ll insist the information is out there for anyone to read it. And they’ll call you “sheeple” without understanding the irony. So sad. So bloody infuriating!
This naturally leads me directly to Old Person Pet Peeves #9;
9. Trump Lovers
I’m happy to note that some of these aren’t just old person pet peeves, including this one. In fact this term probably includes more old people than young. Trump Lovers, the opposite of a Never Trumper!
I’m happy being branded a Never Trumper. The man is seriously toxic. He is a terrible human being, who somehow inspires so many millions of people. I mean “sheeple”. What the hell? 60 million plus people like the guy? I had no idea there was so much low hanging fruit!
I know it all started with a natural mistrust of politicians. Trump was seen as the antithesis of the politician, a man who tells it like it is. So people bought his snake oil. And followed him down the rabbit hole of populism. Exposing conservatism’s dark side that had been laying in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to rise up and declare itself. And this evil man helped make it happen.
I’m not one to hold your political affiliations against you, but I don’t want it shoved down my throat. It’s a bit like a reformed smoker preaching to everyone about the evils of smoking. We get it, dude, you don’t like smoking anymore! So if you insist on talking about how great Trump is, take it somewhere else. Tell someone who cares. Don’t try to convince me what a wonderful guy he is, and what a wonderful job he did as President, because I’m more likely going to tell you to shut up.
As harsh as it sounds, if you are a Trump lover, then you are not worth my time. Because if you are a person that believes a misogynistic, narcissistic, lying sociopath makes a great leader, I question your morality, and your logic.
10. Customers Who Don’t Know What They’re Talking About, But Think They Know Better Than You
Although this is one of my old person pet peeves, it’s actually one that I will often laugh about. And it’s always funnier when someone else is involved, to provide eye rolls and head shakes.
Let me begin this pet peeve with a little anecdote to illustrate the issue. I used to work at The Home Depot. One day a customer approached me while I was working at Contractor Services. People used to think we were the Customer Service desk, so we’d get all kinds of clever people asking completely “logical” questions. For reference, see #5 above.
Home or Home?
Anyway, this one customer came up to the desk and inquired about a particular item that we had in our latest flyer. The only problem was, it wasn’t our flyer. It was a flyer from the other “Home” hardware store. I told him the item he was looking for wasn’t available. It happened to be some gadget that was only available from the other retailer, but I didn’t tell the customer that. He started to get a little agitated. He couldn’t understand why we would advertise something and then not have it available. What kind of operation were we running, anyway?
I calmly explained that the item he was looking for wasn’t available in our store because the flyer it was advertised in was from a different retailer. Now he started to really get mad. He reached into his back pocket and whipped out the flyer in question, slamming it down on my desk with a look of defiance. The item in question was on the front, circled in pen. I picked up the flyer and pointed at the logo. Quietly I said, “This flyer is from Home Hardware”. His eyes flared. “I know that!” “Well,” I said, “This is Home Depot.” He glared at me, then glanced at my apron, the large Home Depot Contractor Services sign over the desk, our business cards, the brochures on the desk, and snorted. Angrily he snatched the flyer from my hands and stomped toward the door. I waited until he was out of earshot before bursting into laughter.
The DIY Customer
Working in the home improvement and renovation retail sector, we tend to get a lot of folks who like to do their own work. The DIY crowd. Most of them are great people, and wonderful customers. But every so often, there’s that one special somebody, who is working on some renovation or repair that they’ve never attempted before. Luckily they’ve done some research, either from a YouTube video or an episode of something from HGTV. So they know exactly what they need. And yet, sometimes they only think they know what they need…
When I explain that their project might need a different approach to the one they saw on YouTube, that special somebody will nod absent-mindedly and look at me with a touch of sympathy. It’s alright, they say, I think I’ll do it the way they did it on the Redneck Good Ole Boy Backyard Buildin’ Blog on the YouTube channel.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect
Back in 1999, a pair of psychologists, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, tested participants on their logic, grammar and sense of humour. They found that those who performed the poorest, rated their skills the highest. The pair attributed this phenomenon to a problem of metacognition, the ability to analyze ones thoughts or performance. According to the psychologists, “Those with limited knowledge in a domain suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach mistaken conclusions and make regrettable errors, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.”
Here’s another way to put it, courtesy of Psychology Today.
The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area. This tends to occur because a lack of self-awareness prevents them from accurately assessing their own skills.Psychology Today
And here’s another way to put it. My favourite;
That’s right, after attaining the Peak of Mount Stupid, it’s a slippery slope to the Valley of Despair. Then a long slog up the Slope of Enlightenment until you reach the Plateau of Sustainability. It sounds a bit like a scene from “The Princess Bride”.
And that brings us to my two bonus old person pet peeves. I never thought my pet peeves would take up almost four thousand words! I must be grumpier than I thought…
11. Being Called Grandpa
This particular pet peeve has been a part of me since our kids were born. I have had an issue with being an older dad since then, and it hasn’t gone away. If anything, it pisses me off even more today. Even though I’m old enough to be my children’s grandfather, I don’t think people I don’t even know should be making that assumption. It’s downright rude! I know I’m old, stop pointing it out to me passive/aggressively! And though I call these old person pet peeves, I should point out that I don’t always feel that old. Just sometimes. Like when I get up in the morning. Or when I’m climbing stairs, or at work, or in the evening after dinner, or getting ready for bed. Just sometimes.
So if you happen to see me out and about with my children, be polite. Say a friendly hello, have a nice day, etcetera. But keep your old guy judgements to yourself. You don’t want me turning into a grumpy old man and punching you in the teeth!
12. Now What Was It?
Damn! I know I had the final old person pet peeves. Something about memory? No, that wasn’t it…Maybe if I left the room and came back in again, I’ll remember what it was. Something about food? The cost of gasoline? Having to wait in line for prescriptions? No, that wasn’t it. Might be a good one though…Ah well…I think I could use a nap…
How about you? Got any old person pet peeves that are different from mine? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you. And if you could, how about subscribing to get more of this drivel straight to your inbox? You know you want it…
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You remind me of my favourite TV commercial from back in the day, when you were 20 years old and intolerant. I can’t for the life of me recall what the ad was for but it ended with a youth mocking the older generation by saying, “Me! I’m going to pull my pants up above my waist and complain about the government full time!!”
Personally I prefer to live the Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) way, “Me, I like to surround myself with stupid people. It makes me feel superior.”
You know, Blackadder’s got something there…I would so do that, but I find stupid people incredibly tiresome. I would see myself as Benny Hill bopping the old guy on the head every time he did something. Hmm, maybe that’s not so bad! Thanks Ean!
In spite of finding your points highly relatable, I am quite unconvinced by your title, Michael. These pet peeves are really quite transferable to younger folks… entirely too many younger ones in fact. Although in truth they deserve their own list, far outnumbering that of the ‘oldies’ I’m sure. Any chance you’ll be writing a Part 2 along this vein? I may be able to help.
It’s funny, but since I wrote this post, every day I think, “Oh, there’s another pet peeve I’ll have to add!” It’s also true that these need not be just old person pet peeves. I’ve just begun to bring them a little more into my consciousness as I’ve gotten older. Perhaps my personal path to senior’s bitterness? I’ll have to think about that.
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Brilliant Michael. One of the best reads I’ve had in a long time.
Thanks David, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’m not really that grumpy (usually)…
Too many to list. We know they can’t read so your safe with this post. Entitled is all I can say.
Oh, some can read. They just choose to read selectively! I do wish some would read this. Then I could have a wonderful discussion!
Scary ! I saw myself in everything you wrote.
Rude customers ? There’s a new trend in bad manners and it happens more and more. It’s my job to outline basic function of a tool and give a few handy tips to those renting. The morons will hold up their hand right in your face and say ” I know it all, you’re wasting your time”.
In the past I might have snapped their arm off at the elbow. Now I console myself with the thought , ” ok Bubba good luck, if you have any problems or malfunction call somebody who cares !! ’cause I’ll happily rip you a new credit card when you come back anyway.
Ha! I can see you waving their own arm in their face, yelling at them to get gone! It’s nice to know you’ve tempered your response in such a charitable way.