Aggravations: addendum IV

Driving: (1.h) Train tracks. People, they aren’t like they used to be. I remember (she said, dating herself) when I first started driving the tracks that crossed Rte. 22, for example, were completely above street level, so a car had to bump over metal ties several inches high. For quite a long time now, though, every set of train tracks I’ve been over has had the road built up around it so that it’s a nothing compared to what it used to be. I wouldn’t recommend whipping over tracks at 80 mph, but going the speed limit isn’t going to bottom out your car or kill your suspension. I generally just take my foot off the gas a minute before getting to tracks. I’ve hit potholes that were worse than train tracks. There is no reason, person I was behind this morning, to slow down to eight miles per hour to go over the tracks. None. At all. Seriously. Especially since you were in an SUV, with 4WD.

1.i) Left turns, redux. Why is it, when someone is taking a left from a parking lot or side road or whatever, and they see me coming, that THAT’s when they need to make their turn. I can’t count how many times in just the past year it’s happened that someone zips out in front of me – either to get in front of me or to cross the lane in front of me … even though there was about a half-mile of clear road behind me. Literally. I can’t count how many times in the last year – but it was three times yesterday. Wait – Perhaps my car has spontaneously developed a cloaking device, and they haven’t been seeing my LARGE WHITE CAR – cool.

9) Email: Why is it that when someone emails me they can’t manage to spell my name right? I don’t mind when it’s the first written contact – someone I’ve only ever spoken to writing an email for the first time. My work email after all is first initiallast name, so that’s fine (though it would be courteous to ask how it’s spelled, since both my first and last names have at least three common spellings). It’s when I’ve written someone and they’re replying that I don’t get it, and where it irks me. I didn’t spell my name wrong when I signed the email – why should you when you replied to it?

Like so many of my random aggros, it’s something that could be avoided by taking, literally, a second – here, to look at the signature. I’m not bothering with things like “spam” and “salesmen who won’t take no for an answer” – those are unfortunate facts of life in these United States which won’t go away unless everyone makes a concerted effort. Which everyone won’t. But everyone should.

Oh, that reminds me:

10) Grammar, spelling, and vocabulary: “Literally”. “Literally” means not figuratively, “actually true and not exaggerated”. If you say “I was literally freezing”, you’d better mean your core body temperature was somewhere around 32 Fahrenheit – because if you don’t, you must literally be an idiot (having an IQ of under 25). I don’t understand how this became an adverb used for emphasis. Well, no, I suppose I, sadly, do understand; it’s arisen through fools who think they know what a word means and use it thinking it will make them sound more smarter. The example I saw on Word was “He had literally thousands of books in his home.” If you say this and “he” has 299 books, it’s incorrect. Find another adverb.

I can’t believe this is the first English language usage aggravation I’ve listed. I could go on for days and pages on this subject alone.

11) Lawn care. Our lawn is, er, unkempt, for which I offer an almost sincere apology to our neighbors. I should say here that I sympathize strongly with Robert Fulghum’s lawn care philosophy: let it be as it was meant to be. So:

– – a) First of all, why are you spending thousands of dollars on … grass? The stuff you’re trying so hard to keep green out there was not, in many cases, meant to grow where you’re trying to grow it. It’s not so bad, I don’t think, here in the east; at least some of the grass is indigenous. But not all. There’s a lot of seed that is either imported from another part of the country – or world – where the grass is literally (really, literally) greener, which does not belong in this climate. Why are you torturing it like this? From what I understand, the practice of keeping a smooth green lawn originated in England – but the thing is, the English get rain about five out of every ten days. (According to the CIA WOrld Factbook, “more than one-half of the days are overcast”.) The stuff that grows in English yards is – or was – naturally occurring, and not very hard to keep green. (This is also one reason the English are famous gardeners.) (Also, those who were originally concerned with having lawns there had servants to take care of them.) Most of America is not like that. And when you start getting further west and start talking about these fools that plant lawns in the desert and then ignore water rationing to keep them up, I get a murderous light in my eye. Why would you *do* this? Why is it so very important to the American psyche to have a nice lawn, specifically of green grass, whether it’s what should be growing there or not?

– – – a.1) And if you are going to go against nature and spend tons of money and water on your stupid lawn, why would you go against common sense and the advice of experts and put your sprinkler on in the middle of the afternoon? Watering is supposed to be done early in the morning or late in the evening, when the sun is not beating down and drying away half of what you’re sprinkling out. If I know this, simply from having heard it on the news, then the morons who care about such things certainly should know about it. And, Toyota dealer on Rte 5? We were under near-drought conditions, possibly still in effect, and the state government was asking that lawns not be watered every day. So why are you?

– – b) Lawn care services. Where to begin …

– – – 1) Beginning with when they begin. This morning the idiots hired by the morons across the street started at approximately 7:02 AM. Now, I’m up anyway. I have no choice. HAD I a choice, though – if, say, I was able to write for a living and make my own hours – – and WHEN I have a choice, on Fridays and Saturdays, I’m up late. If I just went to bed at two or three, which is my choice and my right, I am not going to be happy when some idiot starts mowing his lawn at 7:03. Also, school just got out. I know my niece is expecting to be able to – and looking forward to being able to sleep in. She’s earned it for a while – she just graduated, she doesn’t have a full-time job yet: she’s in the sweet spot after high school and before college and Real Life, and it will never come again (until she retires). Let her sleep in, for God’s sake. WHY do you have to commit this nonsense under innocent people’s windows at 7:03 in the morning?

– – – 2) Trailers. Moron who wants their lawn green and pretty at whatever cost (and it’s prohibitive, at least in my book) hires service. Service shows up one or two or five mornings per week, and has implements beyond count, requiring a trailer. Said trailer is wider than the average car. Said trailer is dumped on the side of the road – which is usually a residential road, which is usually wide enough for the traffic it gets and no more. Thus, said trailer blocks nearly half the road – especially when ever-so-helpful lawn care servicer decides that cones are required around the trailer to provide extra cushion – or parks a couple of feet out from the curb. Roads, as I believe I may have pointed out in other posts, are for cars. Not to be blocked.

– – – 3) The other side of the profession: snow removal. Really, you have a truck. You have a plow attached to said truck. Someone asks you to come clear their driveway. You come, you lower the plow, you push the snow – the truck doing 99% of the work – you maybe make another pass to clear a little further. If you’re conscientious you might tidy it up a bit, or come back later to clear away what the town plows have left from clearing the street. All in all, though, it’s what? Twenty minutes or so? Half an hour if you come back? And the guy we’ve been forced to rely on (because my back won’t do shoveling) charges what is, I hear, a reasonable rate: $25 a trip. Are you kidding me? For a half hour’s “work”, you’re charging almost twice the hourly wage I’ve made most of my life in an office, four or more times what I used to make in retail? No. Sorry. I find that obscene. If it was some guy out on his own two boots with a shovel in his hands digging out that driveway – maybe. But some jerk in a truck who will probably dig up the grass along the edges and destroy part of the curb, and not even get that done before I have to leave for work? No. I cannot do it. It goes against everything I believe in. Seriously.

Especially because the Evil Office Manager I used to work with – not that one, the other one – had a husband who did lawn care in the summer and snow removal in the winter. And every time it snowed, and I would show up at work aggravated, shaken, and/or dissheveled because I was running late because I couldn’t get out of the driveway, and because I risked my life on the highway to get there (never being able to forget the time I lost control of the car and slid gracefully across three lanes, then back again the other way – or the time on the way home that the back window filled up with snow within a few minutes of having pulled out of the driveway and most of the commute home was spent peering through what there was clear of the windshield, praying, and swearing), and would be sitting there hyperventilating and knowing there was a drive home still to manage – and there she would be, having been dropped off by said husband in his truck, chortling (literally) (and I do mean literally) because “Tom always says a snowstorm is money falling from the sky!” Given what I was making on that job, and given that raises were rare as rocs’ eggs, I thought that was a little insensitive.

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