Among my favorite lines in all of film history is Rick’s (Humphrey Bogart) sober farewell to Ilsa (Ingrid Berman) in Casablanca as they stand on the tarmac in Nazi-occupied Morocco:
“Ilsa – I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”
So much about what is important is covered by this line: the virtues of humility, maintaining perspective and selflessly pursuing noble work.
It is important for all of us, in good times and bad, to discern the difference between serious problems and those minor inconveniences and aggravations that plague us. Serious problems sear the heart, mind, body, and soul, and deeply impact our lives. Inconveniences pass away in time and have little meaningful long-term impact.
Nevertheless, I know that I am not alone in confessing those minor inconveniences that drive me, at times, to distraction. Like most people, I have my fair share of pet peeves.
For the record, here are 19 of my pet peeves. Perhaps you share one or more with me. Perhaps you do the offending behavior, and, if by my noting them you see fit to adjust what you do, I thank you profusely for myself and on behalf of us all who feel as I do. If not, then have a nice day!
In the Car
• Drivers in heavy traffic who don’t keep up with the car in front of them and sail through at the final second of a yellow light leaving me behind to wait for the next green;
• Those waiting to turn left on a busy street who inch forward only a few feet into the crosswalk as they wait for oncoming traffic to pass, and as the yellow light turns red casually make the turn leaving everyone behind to wait for the next light. They could easily have moved forward far enough for one or two additional cars to get into the intersection so as to take advantage of the light, but like Walter Mitty, their heads seem to be up in the clouds and are unaware that anyone is behind them;
• People who never let you move into their lane of traffic (i.e. usually young men between 18 and 40);
• People who inexplicably give me the finger for something I probably did but did unintentionally;
• Drivers who move 10 mph below the speed limit on single-lane roads with a double yellow median and don’t pull over to let all those cars that have lined up behind them pass;
• Waiters who are constantly filling water glasses even when little water has been consumed, picking up empty dishes while diners are still eating at the table, offering pepper (there’s already a pepper shaker on every table), and incessantly disturbing and interrupting what are obviously intimate, serious and intense conversations. In Europe, waiters leave you alone after taking orders and delivering food. Why can’t American waiters (usually nice people, btw) do the same thing? In case you are wondering, I am a fair and generous tipper and will even tip well those who do all the above because I know they are just trying to make a living;
• Very loud people at the next table who make it difficult to carry on a quiet conversation at my table;
• People talking in a very loud voice on their cellphones in airport lounges, on airplanes, in hospital and doctors’ waiting rooms, and restaurants (yes – I know. I just said this);
• Those who don’t turn off their ringers and beeps in classes, religious services, theaters, even after having been asked to do so;
Use of Language
• Teens and young adults who add to every third sentence “…like…”;
• Those who end half their statements with “Right?” as if we don’t understand what they just said;
• Nasty people;
• People who insist on telling their “truth” even if what they say unnecessarily hurts the feelings of or embarrasses another person;
• People who are always complaining about others (I know – I’m doing that right now!!!);
• People who constantly self-reference and turn every conversation around to be about themselves;
• People who talk at you and not with you;
• People who are certain they are right and are resistant to hearing and absorbing evidence to the contrary;
• People who can’t apologize;
If you care to share your pet peeves, I’m all ears! Just keep it clean, and don’t be nasty!