Magazine article USA TODAY

Thanks for the Complaint

Magazine article USA TODAY

Thanks for the Complaint

Article excerpt

WE ALL ARE GRATEFUL that our nation celebrates a special day on which to give thanks for our blessings. As a fundamental part of our Pilgrim heritage, we cherish Thanksgiving Day by making it a holiday, arranging free meals for the poor, and gorging ourselves on turkey and all the trimmings. It especially is a family time as travel nears its peak, with friends and relatives celebrating togetherness.

Yet, it strikes me that there is something fundamentally unfair in not declaring some sort of national Complaint Day, especially since there are so many things to complain about; some cynics would say more than those for which we should be thankful. After all, it is customary to give equal time to opposing candidates seeking election. We also allow protesters of all sorts to vent their spleen in public marches or gatherings. So, how about equal time for a day of complaints? Let's list a few.

Most new houses have an anteroom in which washer and dryer appliances are crowded. Often that area is adjacent to the kitchen, supposedly for the sake of convenience. The noise that emanates from those machines is a threat to our hearing and sense of household peace. The gushing of water in washers practically competes with Niagara Falls and the shifting of gears as the washer goes through its cycles would drown out the clanging of old-time trolley cars. The tumbling action of the dryer makes for a rat-a-tat-tat when buttons, zippers, or rivets on jeans knock against the drum. When the load of clothing is not put in evenly, the drum slips off balance, creating an equally unnerving thump-thump that vibrates the floor. Moreover, these machines seem to open to only during mealtime when one should be experiencing peace and quiet after a hard day's work.

The irritation of dishwashers doing their thing is similar. One often wonders if the latter are worth using, since them is much work in cleaning off dishes before inserting them in the appliance as well as taking them out when cleaned. The refrigerator, however, is the Darth Vader of kitchen monsters, as it goes through its defrosting cycle imitating the deep breathing sounds of a wounded animal.

Another complaint concerns television commercials, which, denials to the contrary, are many decibels louder than the show they are sponsoring. Worse, they seem to take up more time than the featured program. Speaking of unnecessary noise, there is the irritating sports announcer who artificially raises his voice, literally shouting in describing not just a breathtaking play, but routine and dull ones as well--just to make them sound exciting.

The airport ,and airplane trip, meanwhile, have their own special irritants. Passengers working desperately over laptops, sometimes with a cell phone to the ear, seem to think there is no tomorrow and no one around. When they sit next to you, there is no possibility to settle down and snooze or read a magazine. If you have a window seat, just try to get past them and their equipment to go to the washroom.

The supermarkets, too, tolerate all sorts of things one should complain about. First off, there is the shopper with a loaded basket, top and bottom, who insists on going through the 10-item checkout lane. Then there is the customer who pays by check but does not begin to start writing it out (in full detail, rather than having filled in all but the proper amount) until the amount appears on the register. …

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