Things that irk my wick

Image of angel and devil on Homer Simpson's shourlders I wish I could say that there are very few things in this world that I find annoying. Unfortunately, I'm not that fortunate. Not only am I not impervious to annoyances but, in fact, there are many, many things that I find annoying. I didn't really realize how many things irked my wick until last month when I noticed that two things, one right after the other, had really gotten under my skin. At that point I made a conscious decision to document those things I found particularly vexing and I gave a bit of thought to each of them. This was not a cathartic undertaking; it was an exercise in self-awareness. What I discovered is that I have both an angel and a devil sitting on my shoulder and, for the most part, I rarely follow the advice of the little dude with the pitchfork. But, as we shall see, rarely is the operative word and his counsel, at times, provides levity to an otherwise aggravating situation.

Image of inconsiderate asshole taking up two parking spots Why are self-absorbed hipsters such pretentious assholes? You know the ones I'm talking about. These are the shit-for-brains, mocha-latte' sipping pricks who, in their feeble attempt at parking, take up enough space to park two mule trains and a tribe of pygmies from the African interior. Their sense of entitlement is so turgid, they'll often use up two spots to park their overpriced Lexus, fearing that some lesser minion might scratch their sacred fucking status symbol.

Most of us say nothing or, what little we might say, is reduced to curt sarcasm like "Nice parking job there Buddy!" or, short of words, we give a scowling glare. But is that all that's going through our minds? How many of you get the urge to key the side of their precious car? How many of you would secretly snicker if someone with a can of bright orange Tremclad painted a nice racing stripe or perhaps the word FUCKWIT down the side in big block letters? Or, if you're like me and just happened to be wearing steel-toed workwear that day, for an instant pondered just how far the door would bend if you drove it a good one with your right foot? Of course we don't act on these impulses, but I couldn't help but wonder if I'd smile, or approvingly nod, if someone else did. As I left, doing nothing, I hoped that a large bird, flying overhead, would deliver a nice payload right in the middle of their hood. In a truly just world, I mused, cows would fly.

Image of soft drinks in cooler I wonder... are there a lot of robberies at the local convenience store? A couple of weeks ago, there was an attempted robbery at the Mac's Milk up the street from where I live. And, coincidentally, I was there when it happened. No, it wasn't some thug wearing a mask and brandishing a knife or a gun; it was the cashier, insisting that he must adhere to the "scanned price" on a bottle of Ginger Ale and not the price that was posted below the product in his cooler. He demanded $2.55 for a bottle of Ginger Ale which (pictured left) was clearly marked at $1.99. When I questioned the $2.55 total he had requested, he indicated that "There's tax on it!", presumably thinking that I could be duped into actually believing there was $0.56 tax on an item that costs $1.99. The product should have been coming up as $2.25 ($1.99 + $0.26 HST) but his scanner was pegging the product at $2.25 (or $2.55 with HST). I insisted that he come from behind the cash register to inspect the price on the cooler shelf. He acknowledged that the cooler price read $1.99, but insisted that he MUST adhere to the scanner price. I told him that he was wrong, that the law was clear on the issue and that he must use the shelf price, not the scanner price. Nonetheless, he would not accept my claim, and continued insisting that he must rely on the scanner price. I listened to the guy with the pitchfork and ended further discussion on the matter "You can take your Ginger Ale" I said abruptly, "and stick it up your arse!"

I left the store, outraged that their policy was such that they were effectively ripping off consumers. I subsequently laid complaints with the Business Practices Registry, the Better Business Bureau and the Head Office at Mac's Milk. I have not heard back from the Business Practices Registry. The Better Business Bureau have sent communication to Mac's Milk, but they have not responded. And Mac's Head Office, who took my complaint, indicated that they'd be in touch within three days, but I've heard nothing from them in weeks.

So much for following the advice of the guy on my shoulder with the angel wings. The guy with the pitchfork suggested I just leave $2.25 on the counter and walk out of the door with the product. Of course dropping it on the floor, watching it explode and saying "Oops, sorry Bud", might have given me a bit of satisfaction as well. Since then, I have not been back to that convenience store and I've vowed to take my business elsewhere. One evening I took the bus, in the rain, to the mall to get milk, a trip that took me an hour, instead of walking two minutes across and up the street. It is extremely more inconvenient, however, I feel compelled to stand by my decision on this simple matter. A principled stance is not always the easiest. Mercifully, the guy with the angel wings sitting on my shoulder keeps insisting I do not capitulate.

Image of traffic calming signs in Ottawa The ability of politicians to implement ideas, even when it's an incredible dumb idea, never ceases to amaze me. I suspect oliticians do this because they must be seen to be doing something rather than nothing. In a just world, politicians would take office, be put into a cryogenic state or medically induced coma, and re-awoken four years later, just two weeks before the next election.

This will be the second year the City of Ottawa has used obstructing traffic signs, placed in the middle of residential streets, as a traffic calming measure. The program, first introduced as a pilot back in 2013, seems to have become the norm. I have no idea how many of these signs clutter Ottawa's streets nor what this program costs the average taxpayer. Judging by the number of them in my neighbourhood, I suspsect there are thousands of them scattered across the city. I also know that they are installed in the spring and removed in the fall . (Presumably, Ottawa drivers don't speed in the winter.) I understand their purpose: because of their intrusive location, they force drivers to slow down. The question, then, is "Do they work?".

I will give politicians the benefit of the doubt on this one and acknowledge that they do slow vehicles down. Speeders and law-abiding drivers alike, short of mowing these signs down, have little choice but to slow down. But herein lay the problem. They slow down ALL vehicular traffic, and that includes police who might be responding to the domestic across the street. the paramedics who might be bringing along the defibrilllator to jolt your weary heart back into rythm or a fire truck upon which the ladder rests that's going to save your sorry ass from the flames nipping at it. If you're fortunate, you only have a two-storey jump so only your legs will be broken when you hit the ground. You can breathe easy knowing both the ambulance and fire truck will arrive in a slow, safe and calmed manner.

The guy with the pitchfork on my shoulder secretly hopes that someone will hijack an empty OC bus and drive around the city mowing all these silly signs down. The angel-winged dude, however, says "Run for public office. You're far more rational and pragmatic than most of these dinosaurs".

Image of men's bathroom sink in local mall Over the past decade, I've bore witness to an enviro-crazed demography accepting idiotic changes without question. How it has come to pass that consumers will accept a store's assertion that paying five cents for a plastic bag is good for the environment while simultaneously not having a paper bag alternative simply boggles my mind. Stores use plastic bags because they are cheaper than paper. It's that simple. And the fact that they have been able to convince the average consumer that paying five cents is somehow a good thing when a paper bag alternative is nowhere to be found is probably the biggest enviro-canard of the decade.

Motion detector faucets are another such canard. They are, of course, pimped under the premise that they save water, that water is a valuable resource and that water should be conserved. Businesses do not use motion detector faucets because they're good for the environment. They use them because they save water; more specifically, hot water.

What irks my wick about these gawd-forsaken contraptions is not that they're pimped as an enviro-conscious device.... it's that they don't work worth shit! In order to get any water out of a faucet equipped with one of these fucking things, you must flap your hands with the fervor of a Parkinsonian patient. And if you do actually manage to get any water out of them, I'd venture a guess that a guy with a swollen prostate can piss with more pressure than these damned things do.

I regularly go through the transit station at a local shopping mall on my way home. And, when I happen to miss my bus connection which runs every half hour, I often take a few minutes to grab a coffee and use the men's bog. The loo is, as you might have guessed, equipped (pictured left) with one of these motion sensored faucets. The guy with the angel wings sitting on my shoulder has told me to complain to the mall management office because the sensor is broken and one cannot wash their hands at all. I have, but my complaint seems to have fallen on deaf ears. The guy with the pitchfork suggested using a sledgehammer but I said that makes too much noise. He then suggested Great Stuff PestBlock spray foam crack sealant was quiet and that a generous dollap of that shit in each spout might cause them to change them. Fortunately, I seldom listene to him, but I am constantly amused by the resourcefulness of his suggestions

Image of doors at shopping mall Why in the hell do they put two doors on a shopping mall entrance but regularly fail to unlock one of them? I simply don't understand the logic of having two doors, either or which could be used, but not using one deliberately for no apparent rational reason. That's like having two legs but hopping around on one of them everywhere you want to go. It's like having a right arm, always putting it in a sling and wiping your arse with your left... when you're right handed.

I suspect it's just sloth on the part of security or maintenance staff who unlock the doors, but it is an annoyance, albeit a minor one, if you're in a hurry to catch a bus, if your hands are filled with parcels and you're trying to open the door with your arse as you go out backwards or, in some cases, if you are pushing a shopping cart. The guy with angel wings generally tells me to just unlock it myself. The guy with the pitchfork says "Go on, give it a fucking good boot. You know you want to!". I never listen the the guy with the pitchfork but secretly, I hope a runaway vehicle crashes into the mall...

Image of dipshit taking up two bus seats Being a regular user of public transit is hardly something to boast about. About the most complimentary thing I could say about traveling with the unwashed masses is that OC Transpo's fleet should be marketed as "93% urine-free". Regular transit users, at least those I'd categorize as reasonably sane, are accustomed to enduring or engaging the occasional wingnut, whacko, street-creature or, in some cases, inconsiderate twats. I regularly encounter my share of all and sundry but I have to say, it's the inconsiderate twats I find most annoying. These assholes will always take an aisle seat... even when the bus is full. They believe their shit doesn't stink and they will not move over so others can sit beside them. When asked to move over, they will either ignore you or respond that "their friend is getting on at the next stop".

The little guy with the angel wings has always told me to be polite but when you're met with ignorance you have to wonder whether or not such counsel is worthwhile. The guy with the pitchfork has suggested you grab them by the scruff of the neck and physically move them out of the seat but I've generally considered that this course of action might run me afoul of the gendarmes. Mercifully, I think the guy with the pitchfork has provided a rational alternative. Since the biggest fear these clowns seem to have is that they'll be contaminated by other passengers, I think standing beside them and coughing excessively should sufficiently prompt them into moving. Failing that, reaching into one's knapsack, pulling out a surgical mask, putting it on and continuing an excessive cough regime might be in order. Though I don't rely on the pitchfork dude's counsel I told you... he is very resourcesful!

Image of Super Sam Barber Shop Two weeks ago, my partner in crime had a very sore throat so thought a clinic visit might be in order. In the very least, the doctor would do a throat swab and prescribe something for the discomfort. I'm not fond of sitting around a clinic waiting room with legions of sick people when I'm not sick myself, so I took the opportunity to go for a haircut a few doors down while she waited to see the doctor.

Their shingle read Super Sam and while $18 was a bit more than I generally pay to have my bean shaved, the convenience made $4.50/side seem reasonable. (Geometrically-impaired readers likely missed the subtle self-deprecation in the preceding.) I was immediately directed to a barber's chair and the stylist grabbed the clippers to commence the task.

It was clear to me, the instant the stylist's hands came within a foot of my head, that he was a smoker. He was also right-handed because his right hand, in which he held the clippers, smelled like an ashtray. The guy with the pitchfork said to tell him "Buddy, go wash your fucking hands. You smell like a goddamned ashtray and I don't want that stench waving about under my nose." but the guy with the angel-wings said to say nothing warning me that the only thing worse than a haircut by a guy with hands that smelled like an ashtray was a bad haircut by a guy whose hands smelled like an ashtray. In a just world, I'd have just puked on his floor. But since there's often little or no justice in this world, I paid, did not tip and will simply refrain from visiting Super Sam's again.

Image of Air Miles card Air Miles: now there's a rewards program that really irks my wick. Obviously, they've also managed to piss off a whole lot of other people too as evidenced by a class action suit launched against them claiming unfair customer treatment.

Changes to the collector points program have spawned several complaints from many patrons. Most, it would seem, are not pleased that points they've been collecting for several years will now expire after five years if they're not redeemed. The complaint we have is that all the points we collected were, by default, transferred to the new Dream Miles category and not the new Cash Miles category. We would regularly redeem our points for movie tickets or restaurant vouchers but now we are not able to do so because those rewards were transfered to and now sit in the Dream Miles category and not the Cash Miles category. We did attempt to discuss this issue directly with the folks at Air Miles however after waiting on hold for over half an hour we were summarily disconnected during the call transfer to an agent. Because I neither have the patience, nor desire, to go through such horrendous customer service a second time, I have resolved to opt out of the Air Miles reward program. Adios fuckers!

And while I've followed the advice of the guy with angel wings, I do know I'd get a bit of satisfaction by cutting up the card, shooting a little YouTube video and telling the President of Air Miles to shove it right up his (or her) arse... sideways. I will, of course, keep apprised of the status of the class action suit and, if necessary, sign on. In a just world scoundrels like the folks at Air Miles would be taken out to the public square and flogged.

Image of panties on bulletin board

The only thing I dislike about sharing a laundry facility is that some individuals are not considerate enough to ensure they're in the laundry room to remove their clothes when the cycle finishes. I really don't like handling other people's clothes; especially when they're in an entwined, wet mound, sitting in the bottom of the washing machine.

A fellow can tolerate this for so long and then, something snaps. One day, after entering the laundry room to do my wash, I discovered wet garments still sitting in each of the two washers. The guy with the pitchfork told me to take the whole lot up the hall and deposit them in the garbage chute. I considered the viability of this option, for only a moment, but considered that it to be an over-reaction. The guy with the angel wings made the more reasoned suggestion to leave a note. The pitchfork dude countered, agreeing that a note was a good idea, but offered a few suggestions on the note's content. Indeed, I left a note, following the advice of both counsels, and I placed the note on the laundry room's bulletin board with a pair of women's panties pinned to it. The note read:

* * * * *

"To the woman leaving her panties in the washer:
Thank you. As a single man and a huge perv, I rarely get the chance to handle womens' delicates. I've been barred from Sears, WalMart and The Bay for my predilections so your thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated.

I've gotta say though, I found them a bit tight and uncomfortable as "the boys" are used to having a bit more room to bounce around.

You may want to put them through another wash cycle.

Submitted by Claude Hopper, 30 September 2016