We all have them — just like opinions and that other thing to which opinions are often compared. I’m speaking of pet peeves. You may deny it, like Debra Johns, 26, of Chula Vista, who said in these pages, “Not really. I don’t let things bother me that much. Unless somebody is really rude. I really don’t like rudeness but I really don’t encounter it that often, either.” Ms. Johns is, of course, lucky or maybe blissfully oblivious.
Theoretically, it is possible to sail through life simply editing out what may potentially bother you, either subliminally or consciously. I’m sure it’s more common than I might suspect. Then there are cases where (speaking of rudeness) the offending party might not be aware of their own irritating behavior. Very common, I would say, that one.
Case in point: You are in, say, 7-Eleven buying, oh, I don’t know, a pack of gum. You’ve stood in line patiently while a woman ahead of you paid for a 40-ouncer malt liquor with pennies, followed by a guy leisurely selecting lottery tickets for a full six minutes. The 12-year-old cashier has been giving him her undivided attention the whole time. Next up, a mountainous woman with matching children, buying each of them treats. Minds are changed, treats are exchanged. She tries to pay for about $7 worth of junk food with Samoan money. The cashier calls for the manager, who, in a thick Farsi accent, tries to explain the situation to the Samoan woman. Neither of them has settled on an exact form of English. Some agreement is reached involving some pennies and putting back some candy.
Finally it is your turn to pay for your gum. The store’s phone rings. It is the 12-year-old’s friend, probably girlfriend. You are the one on hold while the extremely pleasant kid jokes with his honey.
“Excuse me. Can I just pay for this?” This is met without eye contact and an upraised, staying palm. “I don’t know,” he says into the phone. “What are you making? Okay, okay, uh, tacos? Well I don’t know. I give up. Enchiladas? Hey, did you see that girl again? You know, that one — yeah, from San Diego High...” The conversation rolls out along these lines for several minutes. You abandon gum-buying. Your bladder will not put up with another moment of this. Your irritation rate is significant, but it is really your bladder that trumps all in situations like this.
I dropped cell phones from my list of pet peeves years ago. I’ve owned several, and it is pointless. They are simply not going away, and I should have known that years earlier than I did.
Still high on my PP list is ridiculously loud voices, mostly on the bus. It is usually a single guy in love with the sound of his own voice and his sense of humor. He doesn’t miss a single guffaw during his entire lengthy stream of observations, not one of which is remotely humorous.
Googling the words “psychology” and “annoyance,” I found the following. It is from a site called “Linda’s Blog.”
“Tuesday, February 16, 2010. General Psychology Annoyance. I am sooooo anyoed with this class i went in with an open mind and now i want nothing more then to drop this class. The professor is fine, abit bland if anything but for some reason the class just dosen’t feel right for me, no matter what I do I just have no interest in the class. I am trying to figure out if I should drop it or not, well I was and now I’ve decided to just drop it, i’m not doing good enough in the class and its annoying me a lot actually. I personally think this is the case also because of the atmosphere in the class room, I don’t know for sure but i’m sure that its a contributing factor if not the whole thing. Psychology to be honest bores me greatly, ok you know what i just really don’t like the class at all and i regret taking it. In fact I never wanted to take it and then I get paired with the girl with no brain, her boyfriend and some other guy. I think i’m just really annoyed right now and that class for some reason is just making me more anoyed.”
While I am hardly a spelling champion (many consider this ironic because of my occupation), and I would be lost without spell-check, misspellings at this rate and at what seems to be a 15-year-old age level rank high on my PP Index, akin to the experience I once had as a child chewing on aluminum foil.