Monday, March 28, 2016

The Stupidest Thing Yet

I live in a state -- Pennsylvania, to be specific -- which has draconian alcohol laws.  There are no private liquor stores.  Until recently, you could not purchase beer or wine in a supermarket.  There are still precious few supermarkets which actually offer beer; wine is still not available.  You cannot simply buy a six-pack in Pennsylvania.  You can only buy beer by the case.  I personally don't necessarily WANT a case of any one beer.  I'd like to mix things up.  But until the state loosened up a tiny bit on the grocery store thing, if I wanted a Blue Moon tonight and a Guinness tomorrow, I needed to purchase a case of each.  And find someplace to store them.  I am told that the rationale for this was to reduce alcohol consumption.

How forcing me to purchase a case of beer instead of a six-pack reduces my alcohol consumption remains a mystery.

Still, as I said, a few chosen grocery stores have been selected to try selling beer, by the six-pack, and I am lucky enough to have one of these stores a couple of miles from my home.  Today I did my grocery shopping and afterwards thought it might be nice to have a couple of beers waiting in the fridge for my wife and I for her day off work later in the week.

I was in line at the "Beer Garden" behind a couple of women who were buying a couple of six-packs. Here's a stupid thing:  the grocery is obliged under Pennsylvania law to card everyone who makes a beer purchase.  Everyone.  Even those of us like myself who are clearly more than old enough to legally buy beer.  So one of the women in front of me asked the other to hold onto both six-packs while she got her ID out.  Here's a stupider thing:  the clerk refused to serve them.  Apparently ALSO under the experimental grocery beer law, the clerk can only accept ID from the person who is holding the beer.  If another person touches the beer while in line and the clerk sees it, the clerk must card that person as well.  Moreover, if the person who touched the beer is not the person purchasing the beer, the beer cannot be sold.

Got all that?

Now finally, the stupidest thing:  The ladies really wanted to get their beer while they were at the store.  The clerk had to walk them back to the shelves, watch them put the beer back, and watch the person who was going to be carded then pick the beer back up and walk it over to the register.  You still with me?  They had to be escorted back to the shelves, put the beer back like naughty kindergarteners, and be watched while only one of them picked the beer back up and carried it back to the cash register.

All while I was waiting in line to be served, along with seven or eight other (equally incredulous) people.

Luckily they got it right the first time and only the person who was paying for the beer and being carded touched the beer this time.  A huge moral crisis was apparently averted.

There has been a movement for some time here promoting the privatization of liquor stores.  Up until today, I was against it -- I think the state does a pretty good job with selection and service, and my home state of New Jersey, which has private stores, has a pretty seedy bunch of them retailing liquor. The PA State Stores have a little class, at least.

However, after today, I'm no longer quite as sure as I was.  It was so effing STUPID.  And I hate stupid.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

OK, What The F∂∆§ Is Wrong With People?!?

Seriously, is it Donald Trump bringing out the worst and most petty aspects of people's personalities, or what??  I know that as a society, civility and politeness continue to drastically decline, but come on.

(I swear, next thing you know, Trump will want to try to kill Superman.)

Yesterday at the grocery store, an older woman had her cart parked diagonally across the center of the aisle while she sorted through her coupons.  She had to have known that nobody could get past her in any direction.  She simply had to.  In fact, if I were to hazard a guess, I would have to say that she had studied the situation beforehand and calculated the positioning that would cause maximum inconvenience to others.  Nobody who is allowed to drive and purchase groceries could be that otherwise oblivious.  It had to have been her little grab at power over others in order to feel better about her own life.  Which must be sad, but that didn't get me past her any more quickly.  I waited patiently for at least two minutes.  Which, as you know, is a damned long time to be standing in the aisle of a grocery store.  I know she saw me.  I know she knew I was there.  Eye contact was made.  Finally I had no choice but to ask her, as politely as I could, if she could please move her cart a little so that I could pass.  Now normally when this happens -- and it seems to happen around here a LOT -- the other party pretends that they have only now seen me for the first time and, oh goodness, here, let me get out of your way.  I guess they got their little frisson of power and it sufficed.  This time, though, the hag gave me a dirty, dirty look, as though I were somehow the bad guy here.

And that's when I lost it.

I said, and not quietly, "Listen, lady, you're the one blocking the aisle here, not me, so you can stick your dirty look.  If you have to count your coupons, at least pull over to the side a little so that others can use the store.  I am not the villain here."  And then I may have called her cheap bitch as I swung past.  Too much, I know, but I was fed up.

Today, at a different grocery store, my wife was just starting to back out of her parking space when another car stopped right behind her, preventing her exit.  The man stayed behind the wheel while the woman hopped out, popped the trunk, and began some lengthy arcane rearranging of whatever bags or baggage were in there.  Again, I KNOW THEY SAW US.  I know that they saw that we were just about to leave, that they blocked us, and that they were continuing to block us.  Finally, after the requisite two minutes -- and again, I am not exaggerating here; we actually waited two full minutes, which if you sit and try to hold your breath for it you will realize is quite a long time indeed -- we tapped the horn.  And got the same dirty look.  Like we were in the wrong.  Like we were the ones inconveniencing them.  I wanted to hop out of the car and give them both a piece of my mind, but my wife, a kinder and more patient soul than I, laid a restraining hand on my arm and said, "Let them have their moment of power."

I see this crap more and more, and I am getting well and truly fed up with it.  People who see that you are waiting for their parking space in a busy shopping center and suddenly have to engage in more checklists than an F-14 pilot before they get on their way.  Many times they will not leave their space until you have driven off in disgust.  Like they have somehow "won" by keeping you from parking in "their" space.  It's worse if the two parties involved are different races.  Doesn't matter which; all seem equally guilty in my experience.

People who cut you off in traffic when there are hundreds of yards of free space right behind you.  Because waiting that extra four seconds would apparently kill them.  Or people who race past you on the wrong side of the road to get to a left turn lane that they will then sit at, because God forbid they should wait and do it safely instead of risking a pointless head-on collision.  Or the "dieselers" who have their pickup trucks rigged to blow thick black smoke when they pass a Prius.  Or the ever-popular drag race at a red light.  Or the charming phenomenon of "man-spreading."  What the serious hell, people?

(Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?)
(See above caption....)

We are not living our lives on a point system.  You don't "win" because you were successfully mean to someone.  I realize that our society is long past the point where living according to the Golden Rule is a thing that the majority of us do...but we're all crowded onto the Earth together.  Could you at least try to be a little nicer?

That's all I ask.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Change One Thing

Recently I briefly posted a link on my Facebook page to an older entry here, the one about why I hate the changeover to Daylight Saving Time so much.  (More on that shortly.)  I took the link down after an acquaintance told me to "get a grip."  She scolded me that there are so many more important things that negatively impact "her life, her family, her country."  Honestly, my first reaction was pretty extreme, in that I wanted to slap her across her face.  Hard.

Hey, if you don't like what someone puts up on the Internet, just move on.  There's no need to scold, or to start flame wars, or to troll someone.  If you can't say something nice, keep quiet.  Or was Mommy too busy doing something else to teach you that basic lesson?  Just vote with your feet, walk away, and keep your opinion to yourself.  Don't scold me like you're my mom.  I'm 63.  My mom died, 35 years ago from ovarian cancer at the age of 48.  How's that for a negative impact on a life?

Or this:  it happens that one of the people dearest to me in the world now walks (if one can call it that) on one leg because she lost the other one in a car accident.  She had the accident when a distracted driver slammed into her on the Monday following the time change.  One of the 17% more accidents we have on average because of DST.  I mention this only to illustrate the point that if one doesn't know the entire story, maybe find out before climbing up on that high horse and telling someone to "get a grip."

In any event, I took the link down, but not because someone went all bitchy on me.  I took it down because in a very real sense, I had already said everything I could say on the subject.  And I didn't do it nearly as well, or as amusingly as John Oliver did in his HBO show,  Last Week Tonight:

Yes, there are many awful things plaguing our society and our individual lives.  There are unspeakable tragedies, from infant deaths to suicide.  There is the irreparable damage done to our environment by fracking and by greed.  There is the travesty of a viable presidential candidacy by one Donald J. Trump.

None of which I can fix.  None of which I can do one goddamned thing about.

Switching back and forth to and from Daylight Saving Time is STUPID.  We do it blindly because everybody else does, and because we human primates are a bunch of greedy, stupid chimps who like to follow blindly along.  (See reference to Donald J. Trump, above.)  No, I can't fix Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  All the picketing and protesting is not going to change corporate greed and get the oil companies to stop fracking.  I can't fix greed, and I sure as hell can't fix ovarian cancer.

But I can urge people to try to stop doing one stupid thing.  That's all.  Just one stupid thing.  This stupid thing does not save energy.  It has nothing to do with helping farmers.  What it does do, it increases the risk of heart attack by 25%, increases time lost at work, and increases traffic accidents dramatically, all because it's UNNECESSARY, SELF -IMPOSED JET LAG.

When you see somebody doing something that is not only stupid but harmful, you say something.  That's what Mommy taught me.