Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Right again

Have you noticed how grumpy people seem to be these days? It’s getting so we can hardly go anywhere without being scowled at, or have people make certain expressive gestures. Drivers are angry, people waiting in line are irritable and voicemail messages are downright hostile.
Part of the problem is that no-one ever tells us who is right to be angry, and who is wrong. So in an effort to defuse some of all the anger out there, I will now clear up who is on the right and wrong side of certain issues.
For instance, people who like nice, quiet summer evenings are angry at the people who like to listen to loud music. The people who like quiet evenings are right, and the people who like loud music are wrong. There is too much noise in our world as it is. We need quiet, especially in the summer which is a season for relaxation. Those who like loud music should go to bars or keep their noise indoors. By the same token, those who like to relax in canoes or while fishing off the dock are angry at those who like water skiing and jet skiing. The people who like jet skiing and water skiing are wrong. Our lakes and rivers are being punished enough as it is. Water is peaceful and calming, and should be kept that way. Besides, the fish bite better in quiet waters. Those people who like noisy water sports should go to theme parks.
People who don’t smoke dislike people who do. Both groups are right, and there will never be a peaceful resolution to their differences. It would be better if they stopped talking to each other altogether.
Then there are the people who drive big sports utility vehicles. Lots of people don’t like them. There is something overtly aggressive about SUVs, something that just incites a kind of hostile defensiveness in those who drive smaller vehicles. Both of these groups of people should just unclench a little. Life is too short to waste energy being angry about car sizes – and the argument is a little too Freudian to take seriously.
People who drive cars – any car – are angry at people on bicycles who are angry at pedestrians who are angry at in-line skaters and skateboarders who in turn are angry at people who drive cars. All this anger is very circular and can go nowhere. If all these groups would develop a little patience and tolerance, they would all get along much better – there is room enough out there for everybody. But pedestrians are always right because they are the most vulnerable. Everybody should leave the pedestrians alone.
Bird watchers are angry at mountain bikers. The bird watchers are right. Mountain biking is hard on the trails and scares the wildlife. Mountain bikers should stick to the areas that have been set aside just for them, and bird watchers should stay out of those areas.
Old people are too often angry at young people. That’s silly. It is not the young people’s fault that the old people grew old. Besides, from what I hear, being young is no walk in the park these days.
People who care about grammar often get angry at those people who use poor grammar in their speech. The people who know grammar are wrong to be angry at those who do not. Our language is in a constant state of growth and development, and the fact that people are playing lose and fast with the grammatical rules is exactly what keeps the language vibrant and growing. Those who care about grammar should develop their interest as a hobby or scholarly pursuit, but should stop nagging everybody else.
Small dogs should be kept quiet. Their yapping makes everybody angry. Small dogs are sometimes cute, and they are wonderful companions, but their barking is as irritating as nails scraping on a blackboard, and it should not be allowed.
Finally, those who are angry at politicians, teachers, unions and hospital workers should keep in mind that these people, like people everywhere, are doing the best they can with what they’ve got, and that a pat on the back brings about far better results than a kick in the butt.
There is no point in getting angry at me, by the way: I happen to know I'm right.
Feeling very correct, I'm Otte Rosenkrantz.
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