It’s no secret to my wife and close friends that I let things upset me from time to time. Quite often it’s the case that I get upset the most over things which I have little or no control of, whatsoever. And when emotionally upset, I tend to rant like a spoiled child who can’t have his way. It’s very amusing to those witnessing the tirade.
During the decades I taught social studies, I’d sometimes pitch a little fit in class over some event, eliciting warnings from students that I was a likely candidate for a heart attack. But I believe that emotionally venting vast quantities of vitriol, angst, anger and rage against the machine actually prevents heart attacks. Those keeping it all bottled up are the ones at risk.
No one knows for certain. But if a heart attack is in my future, it certainly won’t be caused from my failure to rant and rave.
To that end, I believe I’ll vent a bit today and enumerate some of the things that really tick me off. Doubtlessly some of them serve as vexations to you, as well. Thus, in the spirit of public service, I shall vent and you can, too.
Vicariously, of course.
First: Telemarketers of any sort who phone my house just as we’re sitting down to eat supper. How in the world these perverts know the exact moment when we’re settling into our chairs and saying the blessing is a mystery. But they do.
I’m grateful for the invention of caller ID. We have it. We use it. But, alas, there are still a precious few important incoming calls originating from toll-free numbers. So from time to time I answer one of those suppertime calls.
You know, I used to get upset when it was a kid, representing one of five universities important to our family, calling to solicit a donation to the school. I used to get upset when some doggone politician’s lackey would start reading their script. No more.
A few years ago I started gently interrupting the caller, asking for their personal phone number and the time of day which would be most inconvenient for them to take a call, in order to return the call precisely then.
The next sound would always be a "click" as the caller hung up.
Another nearly constant irritant in my life was the wondrous give-and-take constituting conversation with my beloved wife concerning which restaurant we’d visit when eating out. I have the computer world to thank for the solution to that one: It’s called "the default setting."
My wife and I now have only to decide if we’re eating at home. If not, unless one of us has a specific recommendation, we head for our "default" setting, our favorite local restaurant. We’ve not had one argument or heated discussion about which restaurant we’ll visit since adopting the "default setting." I highly recommend this solution to all in the interest of promoting marital bliss and harmony.
Another totally different matter is that which besets me when driving in heavy traffic. I get intensely emotional when I’m number five or six in the left-turn-only lane waiting for the green arrow to illuminate and, when at last it does so, the idiot in the first car does not budge for a few seconds. Does not the imbecile understand that the green arrow lasts only for a few precious seconds? There are 10s, perhaps 100s of cars aligned, waiting for that green arrow. Thousands of people behind the number one car are seething, beseeching them to move.
That’s the primary reason I don’t normally carry a gun when I’m driving. But those at the front of the line wasting precious "left-turn-only-green-arrow-time" should know that some drivers do pack heat.
Have I mentioned on occasion getting intensely upset over things which I cannot control? The prize winner for me is an idiot driver making a left turn into traffic, or merging left onto an interstate, while talking on a cell phone and holding it to their left ear. They cannot see oncoming traffic, nor their blind spot in the left-hand rearview mirror. And if, when I slam on brakes to avoid them, or tap my horn to alert them, they wave at me with one finger,- that’s the last straw.
Thankfully, it doesn’t happen often. But receiving the "one-fingered salute" from a fool trying to guide a two-ton guided missile and simultaneously talking on a cell phone pretty much sends this old boy into orbit.
And that leads me to believe there’s room in the Jeep for my friends, Smith & Wesson, after all.
Nat Harwell is a long-time resident of Newton County. His columns appear regularly on Sundays.