Thursday, March 26, 2009

More Whining

I was trying to hold a conversation with a friend last week. I say "trying" because her 3 year-old made it impossible. Wait... actually, it's not the 3 year-old's fault, it's the mother's fault. Let me set the scene for you:

[Phone rings.]

Me: Hello?

Sally (name changed to protect the annoying): Hi, it's Sally.

Me: Oh, hi. What's up? Haven't seen you for a long time!

Sally: I just called... honey, can you please sit there quietly while Mommy talks to her friend? Please? Thank you sweetheart. I just called to see if you're free this weekend to catch a movie or something.

Me: Sure. Got a movie in mind?

Sally: Well, I was.... sweetie, please sit down. No, get off the chair, that's not how we use the chair. [unbelievable screech] Please, sweetie, use your inside voice. No, don't pull on Mommy's shirt. I was thinking we could go see that new... honey, can't you see Mommy is on the phone? Yes, that's a very nice drawing. Go put it on the fridge, ok? Daddy would love to see it. No, put that down and put your drawing on the fridge for Daddy. Please? [screech] Remember, inside voice. Put it on the fridge.

Me: Maybe we should talk later?

Sally: No, I just .... Baby, get down, ok? Please get off Mommy's lap. Please stop pulling on Mommy's shirt. [screech] Inside voice, darling. Get off Mommy's lap.

Me: Um, I think I'm getting a call on the other line.

Sally: But we're in the middle of a conversation. Can't you ignore it?

Me: Okaaaaay....

Sally: As I was saying, we should go see the new Monsters vs. Aliens... honey, I said stop pulling Mommy's shirt. No, please don't pour that milk on the ... no, no, don't cry. I'm not mad at you. Don't cry, sweetie, let's look at your pretty picture.

Me: Well, I'm not much into kids' movies. How about Duplicity?

Sally: Well, that isn't really appropriate for a 3 year-old. Yes, sweetie, I see, no, don't do that... I see it.

Me: Um, she's coming with us?

Sally: Of course. With the economy the way it is, I really can't afford a sitter.

Me: How about if I pay for the sitter?

Sally: Well, I.... [insert 4 minute conversation with 3 year-old]. The thing is, she hasn't been sleeping well and I don't want her to feel like I'm not sympathetic to her feelings.

Me: Hey, sorry. I just got an email from my boss. I need to go out of town this weekend.

Sally: You need to figure out your priorities. Your friends should come first, but you are always distracted by your job.

Sadly, this is probably close to word-for-word. I got an email from her over the weekend. It was a page-long diatribe about how hard it is being a mom, and how no one understands. It went on to detail how her kid is doing in every area of her life -- potty training (aren't they trained by this point?), pre-school (i.e. playtime), choosing her own clothing, drawing, etc. It explained how great her kid is, especially compared to all the other kids in her learning academy (day-care). Sigh.

Newsflash to you moms. Your kid is not the greatest kid ever born. In fact, there's a chance your kid will grow up to be an ax murderer or AIG exec, making you look particularly stupid for thinking he/she is so awesome. I'm happy for you that you enjoy being a mom. Really. But I don't -- let me say it again, I DON'T need a report when your kid takes a crap. I don't need to know that your kid was crabby today. I don't think your kid is particularly talented or special. Every parent thinks that about their own kid, and it can't all be true.

As a kid, if my mom wanted to talk to someone, I was told to be quiet, and I knew there would be consequences if I disobeyed. I was quiet. My parents could shop in a store or eat in a restaurant with three kids without earning the collective hatred of the entire establishment. We were told to behave, and we did. If time-outs work for your kid, great. If not, find something else. Misbehaving, screeching and demanding attention are NOT acceptable.

More important news flash. YOU decided to have kids. Not me. So don't start whining to me when your kid isn't sleeping through the night and you aren't getting any sleep. I don't want to hear it when you have to clean up kiddie puke, or scrub infant diarrhea out of your couch. That's part of being a parent, so you signed up for it. Don't think you'll get sympathy out of me when you have to take off work for doctors appointments and PTA meetings, and when other annoying kids show up at your house to play. You asked for it. Keep it to yourself. You're whining.

By the way, I am exempting brand new parents from my diatribe. You are still learning how to cope, and everything is new and exciting. You get 6 months. After that, it's whining. I'm also exempting the parents who refuse to let their kid(s) take over their lives. My friend Susan and her husband drove cross country for 3 months to visit family when the kid was only a few months old. If she can do that, why can't you go see a two-hour movie without yours?

Bottom line: There's not a conspiracy of secrecy to prevent would-be parents from knowing what it will be like. There's no mystery how kids are conceived. You made the decision, you live with it. And STOP WHINING!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I know every now and then we all throw ourselves a little pity party. I guess that's human nature. But people who do it all the time, about everything, drive me crazy. What bugs me most is when people cause (or help cause) or at least support the very problem they're complaining about, and then still complain. At least have a little integrity!

Examples: I know someone who shoplifts because she says the prices at her favorite store are too high. And she'll regularly complain about the prices -- um, hello? Every time you steal, the prices go up! If you're going to steal, expect prices to go up. I have another friend who is a dyed in the wool democrat, and happily votes for only far-left democratic candidates in the already-close-to-socialist California legislature. Then, when they follow their party platform and raise taxes, she complains that taxes are too high. If you're going to vote democrat in California, you lose your right to complain about high taxes. I have an acquaintance whose husband is a general contractor, and who repeatedly complains about losing out on bids to companies that hire "undocumented immigrants" because they pay their workers less and can bid lower. Yet both the husband and the wife are vocal supporters of open borders. Sorry. If you want any and all people to have the "right" to move here, you lose your right to complain when they do, and subsequently take your job. I have a family member who is an ex-smoker, and regularly voices her support for people's right to smoke in public places. She's also the first to complain when someone's smoke touches her, or (when traveling to a state that has no smoking ban) when she is seated at a table in the vicinity of the smoking section. Sorry, you lose your right to complain when you advocate their right to do it.

My point is, vote/support/act on your conscience. That's your right, and I support your right wholeheartedly. But quit whining when that same position comes around to bite you. I don't want to hear it!

Friday, March 13, 2009

You're Saying It Wrong!

Poor pronunciation drives me crazy. Seriously crazy. I’m not talking about people who learned English as a second language – they have a perfectly legitimate reason for mispronouncing words. This is especially true given that, in English, the spelling/pronunciation connection is often attenuated at best. Take for example “laughter” and “daughter” or “bomb” “comb” and “tomb” – why aren't these sets of words pronounced the same? I would be confused too if I learned this a second language.

What I'm talking about, though, is words native speakers of English can’t be bothered to pronounce correctly, even when speaking in a formal setting.

My first example: Library. It’s not “liberry” people!! There’s an R in there. Even worse: February. It’s NOT “Feb-yu-ary.” There’s an R in there. Say it!! How about this one: Temperature. Seems easy enough. Then why do I so often hear “temp-a-chure”?? You can’t eliminate a syllable because you’re lazy!! Don’t add syllables either. For example: Mischievous. It’s pronounced “miss-cheh-vuss” NOT “miss-chee-vee-uss.” Where do people get that extra syllable?? Or how about when people replace one syllable with another, as in: Nuclear? It’s “noo-klee-ar” NOT “noo-kyuu-lar.” Ugh! Or another favorite: Supposedly. It’s not “su-pos-ah-blee.” Read the word.

Ack!! I know some of you have your pet peeve mispronounced words. Feel free to share them in the comments!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ugh, airlines!

Widget Co. frequently sends me to far-flung regions for work. Well, maybe not so far-flung. Mostly our Nation's capital (but not the Capitol, for you grammarians). For example, a few weeks ago, I flew to D.C. for a seminar with some co-workers. My point is, between work and leisure travel, I spend a fair amount of time in airports and on planes, so I think I have a fair idea of what constitutes a "good" travel experience and what constitutes "poor" service by an airline.

Last week, I had to attend a conference in the unfortunate (haha) location of Las Vegas. (Actually, a really great conference with some fun people, location notwithstanding.) Being located in So. Cal, I had the option of driving to the conference, but that's a 4-5 hour drive, and when one is headed to the money-making capital of the world, one wants to get there faster!! So, I decided to fly out of my local regional airport. It's a short flight, about an hour. My travel time should have been as follows: 20 minute drive to the airport, 45 minutes to go through security and get to my gate, a 1 hour flight, and a 10 minute cab ride to my hotel. Then I should have been free to get to the tables to win. (Ok, ok, before you ask: no, I didn't win. But I sure did my part stimulating the economy!!)

First rule of airports: never wear a bulky sweatshirt to the airport -- you're guaranteed a pat-down. Blech. I also hate seeing people wearing flip-flops in the security line. That means they'll be barefoot going through the scanner. Gross!! Great way to pick up ringworm! Then there's always the mom trying to herd 4 kids through the line, all with their jackets, backpacks, shoes, and snotty noses. I feel briefly sorry for her, and then I remember that she chose to have kids. Now I just feel sorry for me, because they're always on my flight.

Next I go to sit and wait for my flight to be called. Should be a nice, relaxing time to read my book, right? No. SuperBusinessMan always sits down next to me and screams into his cell phone. He's obviously saying "look how important I am - do you hear this important conversation??" I think the phone isn't even on. What a dork. Then someone with Cinnabon sits down behind me. Always. I can feel my thighs gaining weight just smelling it. Ack!

Ok, back to my trip. What went wrong with my well-oiled plan? Southwest Airlines, that's what!! All of the airlines are trying to boost their "on time departure" stats, but for the most part they do it by (shock!!) actually departing on time. Not Southwest. Despite knowing that we could not take off until 40 minutes after our scheduled departure time (they announced that once we were seated -- I think it was a matter of waiting for landing space in Las Vegas), they got us all on board, on time, seated and belted, and then pulled away from the gate. Then we sat. For 40 minutes. Just sat. No air conditioning, no drinks, nothing. Just. Freaking. Sat. Ugh!! For their part, they got to mark this as an "on time departure" because we had pulled away from the gate in time. For the rest of us, it meant additional misery.

As if that wasn't enough to remind me why I hate Southwest, let's talk about my return trip. We finished our conference early, and I didn't want to overstimulate the Vegas economy, so I headed to the airport. It used to be that there were always stand-by seats available, so you'd just get on the list when you got to the airport and hang out. No hassle, no cost. Not anymore. Now, the airline that proudly advertises "no charge for the first checked bag" and "no charge for the second checked bag" and "no charge for the window or aisle seat" sneakily charges you to get on the stand-by list!! $37 dollars just to get your name on the list!! That doesn't even guarantee you a seat!! Unbelievable.

I have to fly again this weekend. I'm dreading it. Maybe they'll pleasantly surprise me, right? And maybe pigs will be flying next to our plane.