Please accept my year's worth of groveling apologies

December 28, 2006|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,SUn Columnist

As has become traditional in this space, it's time to look over the columns of 2006 and see who we offended in the hope of making things right -- or at least getting another column without a lot of heavy lifting.

Topping the list of the hugely aggrieved in 2006: home painting contractors.

After a column about the nightmare my wife and I had trying to get our living room and dining room painted and the joy of dealing with these people -- estimates that are all over the map, contractors who don't even bother to call you back, contractors who bad-mouth the work of other contractors -- I heard from several ticked-off contractors.

The gist of their complaints -- if I could use a paint metaphor -- was this: Don't smear us all with the same brush.

The vast majority of us operate with the utmost integrity, they wrote, and are not the lazy, conniving rip-off artists you depicted in your column.

OK, fine, paint contractors. You win.

I was wrong to lump you all together, even though I did call five random contractors from the Yellow Pages and couldn't get a straight answer from any of them about how they arrived at their estimates, how long the job would take, when they could get started, etc.

Maybe they were all having a bad day. Yeah, that's probably it.

Still, that was nothing compared to the hue and cry that followed a column about being in a supermarket and coming across a mom pushing her wailing toddler in a shopping cart.

Aside from the fact that the wailing was loud enough to be heard in Utah, what got me about the whole thing was that the mom was totally ignoring the little monster.

She didn't attempt to comfort him or calm him down.

She didn't tell him to knock it off or else.

I wrote that I had no way of knowing what set the kid off -- whether he was tired or hungry, or whether he was a spoiled little brat who was flipping out because he didn't get something he wanted.

But I felt that the kid was causing such a scene that the mom had to do something to give everyone else a break from the surround-sound screeching of a 3-year-old.

Well. Most readers agreed with me. But I also got a number of e-mails from the stressed-out-moms lobby, which basically said: How dare you criticize that mother, you don't know what she was going through, maybe the kid has a history of being manipulative with his wailing and that was all she could do, etc.

You know what, stressed-out moms? I've had 10 months to think about it, and you're right. Let the kid scream all he wants.

Look, if we can put up with people yakking on cell phones in the middle of the supermarket, we should be able to put up with a toddler going Chernobyl in the fruit and vegetable aisle.

Maybe he was just having a bad day.

A column on the endless wait we endure at the doctor's office -- first we wait forever in the waiting room, then we wait for many more minutes in the little examining room, which should really be called Waiting Room II -- prompted several e-mails from annoyed physicians and their touchy receptionists.

Appointments run longer than expected, procedures take more time than allotted, patients have endless questions for the physicians -- these were just a few of the reasons proffered for the long waits.

We're doing the best we can, the docs wrote.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

OK, doctors. It's a new year, all is forgiven. But, look, if you're going to make us wait that long in the little examining room, how about hooking us up with a few plasma TVs and a nice sound system?

Anything's better than sitting on the table with the crinkly strip of tissue paper, staring at a jar of tongue depressors or a gastro-intestinal chart taped to the back of the door.

A column about bottled-water snobs -- you know, the ones who brag about drinking only a certain brand of the stuff, which usually correlates to the one that's priciest -- also elicited some angry e-mails.

I said all these bottled waters taste the same, and that the whole idea of promoting the health benefits and mountain-spring purity of certain brands was a racket. Naturally, of the half-dozen irate e-mails I received, five were from Evian disciples, who went on and on about how Evian is the sacrament that keeps their bodies pure and god-like.

Whew. OK, Evian people, how about a truce? You don't bug me anymore with all that hooey about sacramental blah-blah-blah and I won't point out what Evian spelled backward is.

Finally, as we do almost every year in this space, we managed to get the dog nuts in an uproar.

This was the result of a column about how my old dog is costing me a fortune in dog food, since he's now decided he'll eat only the priciest brands. Somehow, he hoodwinked my wife into thinking there was something wrong with his teeth, so now he only gets the best wet dog food.

The dog nuts said I should just shut up and pay whatever it takes to keep the mutt happy, since he's a member of the family, he's loved us for all these years, and so on.

OK, dog nuts. You win. From now on, the dog eats like the food critic for Gourmet magazine.

We'll even put Evian in his water bowl.

To keep his body, y'know, pure and god-like.

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