Invitation to grouches to write in and grouse


March 29, 1993|By MIKE ROYKO

A colleague, Bob Greene, recently did an unusual and inspirational series of columns. He asked readers what they liked about this country, and thousands of them responded.

Bob then printed lists of these everyday sources of delight and joy. Such things as down comforters, the songs of World War II, your dog cuddling up to you when the weather is cold, strawberries in January, and countless others. They were heartwarming to read, although I was surprised that he omitted the shot and beer.

However, I believe in the tradition of journalistic balance, of presenting all sides of a story.

And it has been my experience that for every cry of joy in our society, there is a snarl of rage.

So I've decided to give readers the opportunity to describe those things that cause them to grind their teeth and use foul language.

I'm not talking about the major gripes. Any liberal can loathe Rush Limbaugh, just as any conservative can despise Hillary Rodham Clinton. And almost everybody hisses at Congress.

Instead, I'm talking about the lesser offenses, many committed by that huge class of citizens known as "The Jerks."

For example, I have a friend in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood who hates people who walk their dogs on the small but neatly tended strip of grass in front of his home.

So deep is his revulsion that he has become an amateur chemist, seeking potions that will cause the dogs to flee. He once went so far as to grind several pounds of jalapeno peppers into powder. All this did was make his lawn the favorite loitering place of a neighbor's Mexican Chihuahua.

Another acquaintance is almost homicidal when stuck behind someone who suddenly double-parks. He talks of buying a used snowplow and administering justice on the spot.

In talking to friends, I find they all have pet irritants.

One of my favorite grouches said: "Anybody who says to me, 'Have a nice day,' I usually tell them: 'Hey, who the [bleep] are you to tell me what kind of day to have? It's my day, and I'll have any kind of [bleep] day I want.' "

Another said: "The kind of idiot who is in line at the checkout counter in a supermarket and then writes out a check for $4.38. Or the one who stands there waiting until everything is added up until she takes her wallet out of her purse."

A woman who has three small children said: "Don't forget the kind of morons who dial wrong numbers, and when you tell them it's the wrong number, they act like it's your fault and slam the phone down. I run across the house with a baby in my arms just to be abused. So what I do now is say, 'Yes, you have the correct number.' Then, when they ask to talk to Charlie or someone like that, I say: 'Oh, Charlie's gone. He got drunk and was arrested for indecent exposure. Goodbye.' It gives them something to think about for a while."

A keen observer named John Shack said: "Any weirdo who goes on 'Geraldo' or 'Donahue' or those other shows. I recently saw a show that featured women who married their mothers' ex-husbands. This told me that these shows have reached the bottom of the human food chain. Soon, Geraldo and Donahue will be rowing a boat into the ocean, lowering microphones into the water and interviewing the plankton. Not just any plankton. Transvestite plankton."

Another TV viewer said: "I hate the screaming young idiots they always show in sports bars after a big game. Why don't they ever go to a regular neighborhood bar and interview some respectable drunks? And at presidential press conferences, why don't they just have the reporters draw numbers out of a hat and call out the numbers for questions instead of all those reporters screaming and waving their arms like kids who want the teacher to let them go to the bathroom?"

And a variety of other beefs:

"I love movies, but I hardly ever go because of the yahoos who have to talk. If you tell them to shut up, you might get murdered. The only time I go to movies is if I'm in Florida. Then I find a mall theater that has early showings for senior citizens. All you hear there is a little wheezing or cracking joints. It's great."

"Fat protesters who complain that life is hard. Anybody who can get fat can't have it too bad. You don't see any fat people in Somalia."

"People who say, 'Lighten up' or 'Chill out.' I'm in a weight lifting program so I can develop the strength to punch them out."

"Drivers who abuse the right-turn law. And little foreign cars that cut in and out. They should be crushed like bugs."

"Golfers who are slow but won't let faster players go through, so they ruin the day for dozens of other people. Not only should they be barred from golf courses but they should be deported to someplace like Iraq."

"Restaurants that soak you $12 for a plate of spaghetti. Who are they kidding? For $12, I can make enough spaghetti and sauce to feed a whole family."

"Radio talk shows. Is there some rule that says only people with something stupid to say are allowed to get through?"

Those comments are the general idea. So if you have a pet peeve or hatred, just jot it on a card or letter and sent it to: Gripes, c/o Mike Royko, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611.

Let the venom flow.

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