Pet peeves

After a weeklong hiatus, the heat and humidity are back, heightening the likelihood of rage, recriminations and other repulsive reactions. So let’s start by scavenging the mobile offenses that make me crave the kind of comic relief Jack Nicholson provided in the film “Anger Management” when he sat beside Adam Sandler and sang “I Feel Pretty.”

You’re waiting to turn left at an intersection, and a vehicle approaches from the left. You think it’s going to go straight. Instead, its driver turns right (beside you), smiles and waves — as if to say, “You could have turned if only I could be inconvenienced to use my pesky blinker.”

The next day, you’re following the same driver. He honks at a bicyclist and yells, “Get out of my way!” before forcing the biker into a ditch. While you’re scribbling the rogue hog’s license plate number, he brakes so suddenly that you rear-end his Hummer. His fender is dented but your Civic is totaled. Brandishing a firearm, he screams, “This is what you get for tailgating someone who’s turning right!”

“But you didn’t use your blinker,” you say.

“I was texting my girlfriend,” he replies.

Indicating before a turn (or lane change) isn’t just a safe courtesy here in the cradle of mid-Southern hospitality, it’s the law. And everyone knows it — with the possible exception of vehicle enforcers.

Super-sized shrubbery that limits the visibility of oncoming traffic poses a danger for motorists and cyclists seeking to turn. I’m vexed that Louisville is a notorious, greenery-challenged heat island, but nothing makes me want to commit a chainsaw massacre more than precariously feral flora.

No discussion of local road peeves could be complete without mentioning the congestive chaos related to the Ohio River Bridges Project. Extreme lane and ramp closures plus long waits equals road rage. Multiply the risk by two if your route encompasses both construction zones. Two policy follies nevermore: invading Iraq and the hellish highway combat of building two bridges at once — especially where only one (the eastern span) is wanted and needed.

Retail hell happens when a product presents without a price. I have a theory about broken soda machines. They’re out of order because people like me have beaten them like circus monkeys because no price is posted — and they don’t reply to inquiries. My rule of thumb is that if I have to ask, I can’t afford it. I appreciate the price scan gadgets — when they’re not out of order. But frankly, I can’t spare the time. I’m too busy ending relationships via text message.

Guerilla text messaging is another pet peeve. To paraphrase The Beatles, “Life is very short and there’s no time for fighting by texting, my friend.” If we’re having an issue, let’s talk instead of typing disgraceful things we’d never say face to face — and might hesitate to say telephonically. On second thought, fup you for texting me at all; I type for a living!

Nevertheless, I have great sympathy for folks who work for a living. My first job, at 14, was washing dishes at a steakhouse. Maybe that’s why I have no sympathy for lousy tippers. Those who leave crumbs instead of bread for our hard-working ambassadors of hospitality can’t afford to eat out. Furthermore, those who unload their aggressions on servers, clerks and cashiers need therapy. Instead of being an ugly joker who makes people think this town needs an enema, imagine Jack singing “I Feel Pretty.”

Everybody agrees that corporate greed is pretty ugly. Likewise is the suburban design Walmart proposes for its West End development. You’ve got to question the civic heart of the world’s largest corporation when it resists a chorus of calls for a more neighborhood- and pedestrian-friendly roadside storefront (urban design). It’s not as though Walmart can’t afford it. As civil rights leader Georgia Powers recently reminded U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., community trust and support are denied “to leaders who shake our hands while spitting in our faces.”

I don’t trust leaders who deny science. On March 19, state Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, helped kill a bill that would have banned most teens from using tanning beds on the basis that his wife’s skin cancer, diagnosed in her 20s, was not caused by tanning beds. Never mind the staggering incidence of melanoma among young women who do use tanning beds.

Finally, peevish people who relentlessly rant really chap my ass.

This concludes my bi-monthly diatribe.