Thanks? How about a list of ag­gra­va­tions in­stead?

The Sun Herald (Sunday) - - Nation & World - BY CHAR­LIE MITCHELL

Long­time read­ers (for whom I am grate­ful) may re­call Thanks­giv­ing columns have of­ten been hom­i­lies on how choos­ing an at­ti­tude of grat­i­tude lessens stress, en­hances en­joy­ment of life. (Too, long­time read­ers may not re­call any such thing — what with op-eds hav­ing the same life­span as grease in the bow­els of a goose.)

In any event, a dif­fer­ent tack is be­ing taken for this post-hol­i­day col­umn. In keep­ing with the neg­a­tiv­ity that pol­lutes to­day’s so­cial con­ver­sa­tions (es­pe­cially dig­i­tal con­ver­sa­tions), I’m chim­ing in with a list of per­sonal ag­gra­va­tions:


Self-im­por­tant peo­ple of­ten lose con­trol af­ter deign­ing to grace a driv­ethru with their royal pres­ence and wind­ing up with a sin­gle cheese­burger in­stead of a dou­ble. Not me. I don’t de­sire that check­ers, stock­ers, wait­staff or win­dow-han­der­outers treat me as if I am the cen­ter of their uni­verse. Ig­nor­ing me is fine. I do, how­ever, ex­pect to be spared over­hear­ing their de­bates about whose break is next, who stayed too long on break or their ban­ter about how much they hate their jobs.

My heart goes out to these folks. They work bizarre hours and all hol­i­days. They have to deal with ar­bi­trary bosses, cus­tomers who seem to de­light in mak­ing messes and the afore­men­tioned in­suf­fer­able pa­trons. That said, my money is hard­earned, too, and I should be able to spend it with­out hear­ing them squab­ble.


Whether at home or out on the town, noth­ing has a shorter shelf life than a French fry. They are sticks of golden de­li­cious­ness as soon as they cool just enough not to burn. Too rapidly, though, they lapse into flac­cid strips of mush.

And they can­not be re­heated. Don’t even try.


Don’t mis­take me. This cat­e­gory does not in­clude all small dogs. A small dog with suf­fi­cient pluck and pride can be as fast a friend as a big dog.

I’m talk­ing about or­na­men­tal dogs, needy dogs, dogs that whine about ev­ery­thing and pee if you say, “Boo.”


As long as we’re on the sub­ject, be clear that if a per­son chooses to “wear” a frou-frou dog, that’s fine. I re­spect the choice.

What’s not ac­cept­able is be­ing cruel — and that in­cludes in­dif­fer­ent — to any pet large or small, feath­ered or furred or what­ever. And that in­cludes all other an­i­mals, too. Like it or not, hu­mans are ste­wards of the planet and the job comes with one sim­ple re­quire­ment: De­cency.


Noth­ing pre­vi­ously said about an­i­mals ap­plies to red wasps. They have no re­deem­ing qual­i­ties and should be caused to die early and of­ten.


I know, I know, the boss says do it, so you have to do it. It is weari­some, though, when I buy a six­pack of pen­cils at the of­fice sup­ply store and must for­mally waive the three-year ex­tended main­te­nance plan. (Too, I’m nat­u­rally wary of any price with the word “just” be­fore it.)

And car war­ranties. If Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sioner Bran­don Pres­ley ever does find a way to en­force the no-call list, un­em­ploy­ment rates are go­ing to sky­rocket in sev­eral coun­tries where no one — in­clud­ing the tele­mar­keters — speaks English.

These days every­body up­sells. It wouldn’t sur­prise me to learn that a pa­tient check­ing into a hos­pi­tal for an ap­pen­dec­tomy is of­fered a cou­ple of stents and a kid­ney trans­plant, too. “As long as we’re in there ...”


Petty? You bet.

More than one mayor has looked at me strangely when I’ve sug­gested freshly marked streets (es­pe­cially cross­walks) re­ally im­prove the over­look look and feel of a city. Faded and miss­ing mark­ings smack of in­dif­fer­ence.

Each time I have voiced that com­plaint, I’ve re­mem­bered my dear old Dad’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the ba­sics. When I was in ele­men­tary school I would some­times bring home less than per­fect grades in (sur­prise, sur­prise) “con­duct.” My well-be­haved father was slow to anger, slower to crit­i­cize. His life was the model “at­ti­tude of grat­i­tude.” Frus­trated with me, he would say, “If you can’t do any­thing else, at least you could sit there with your mouth shut.”

And that’s a lit­tle bit like my mes­sage to may­ors. “I know you have tugs and pulls and pushes and shoves, and I know it’s im­pos­si­ble to be all things to all peo­ple, but keep­ing the cross­walks and park­ing slots painted? How hard is that?”

In clos­ing, please ac­cept my sin­cere hopes that ev­ery­one does take a mo­ment and think about all for which we should be grate­ful.

See you soon on so­cial me­dia — and we’ll com­plain about any­thing and ev­ery­thing.

Char­lie Mitchell is a Mis­sis­sippi jour­nal­ist.

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