What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Free gifts. As the amount of actual mail I need to send has plummeted, the number of organizations sending me “personalized address labels” as a “gift” has skyrocketed. It makes me wonder who’s running their marketing and fundraising department… and why they think this is a winning idea. I mean if you’re going to inundate me with junk mail, at least make it something that doesn’t stick to the blades of my shredder and give me an even worse impression of your organization.

2. Aggressive marketing of things I’ve already purchased. I bought a very nice marble urn for Winston. Since then I’ve been getting at least one email a week from the nice people at perfectmemorials.com offering me a wide range of other funerary items. This feels like another marketing fail to me. I mean urns aren’t exactly the kind of thing anyone need to purchase every week, right? I was very pleased with their service and the quality of the product I received and in time I would probably use them again as the need arose… but if they keep beating me about the head and neck with weekly messages in all likelihood I’ll go someone where else when the time comes.

3. Look at me-ism. There are few things I find more professionally unpleasant than people who demand attention for their ideas or presence in a room simply by virtue of position. Look, if I need a chief in the meeting, I’ll be the first one to invite them. More often, though, who I need is the person who actually does the work. If you need to be in a meeting just to feel important, maybe it’s time to check yourself.

Peace Officers Memorial Day…

Today is Peace Officers Memorial Day. For most people it’s a day that probably passes un-noted or little remarked. That’s fair. The only interaction most people ever have with a police officer is getting a speeding ticket. When you don’t need a cop or they haven’t caught you doing something stupid, their presence just kind of fades into the background.

My perspective comes from a slightly different place of course. In the formative years of my childhood, my dad wore a badge. Some of my earliest memories are of the smell of gun oil, the zing of a whip antenna bouncing off a low hanging branch, and vacation road trips interrupted by stopping along side the highway to aid someone in distress. Growing up, “police officer” wasn’t a simple job title. They were real people, many friends of the family who are friends still. Maybe that’s why I feel such disquiet when confronted by those with no respect or regard for the work done by those men and women who pin on that badge every day.

Police officers leave their home every day doing the kind of work that most of us wouldn’t tolerate for a single shift. They don’t always do it perfectly, but I’d be hard pressed to show you another group of people who are more intent on doing the right thing day in and day out.

You have every right not to like the work they do. You have every right not to like the way in which they do it. But the fact that last year 146 of them gave their lives in performance of their duty insists that they’re worthy of both my respect and yours.

By their blood…

For generations unbroken stretching back to before the Revolution, America’s bravest sons and daughters have shouldered the burden so many of the rest of us studiously avoided. They shouldered the nation’s hopes and dreams, answered the call, and stood on point to defend our collective ideals and advance the proposition that democracy and liberty are worth defending.

They died in the hundreds and thousands in places with names like Niagara, Ticonderoga, Vera Cruz, Chancellorsville, Manila, Ypres, Guadalcanal, Tunisia, Anzio, Normandy, Inchon, Khe Sanh, Granada, Mogadishu, Kandahar, and Fallujah.

The world and popular culture may want to forget – to pretend that peace and love are enough to sustain us. The men and women who served, though, know differently. They know that we’re sustained only because so many of our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors were willing to pay out that “last full measure of devotion.”

The modern world was built on their backs and paid for by their blood. Let us never diminish their sacrifice by pretending otherwise.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. The 9/11 Memorial Gift Shop. I hear people are up in arms about there being a gift shop at the freshly minted 9/11 Memorial in New York. Fine. I don’t get it, but I certainly don’t claim to hold a monopoly on righteous indignation. I hear the argument that that the site of the World Trade Center is hallowed ground; that Americans are interred there. Arlington National Cemetery is hallowed ground too. It’s sanctified by the blood of generations of America’s patriots, but they still operate a bookstore there catering to the millions of visitors who show up there every year (there’s one at the Pearl Harbor visitor’s center too). On Ebay you can buy artifacts raised from Titanic’s resting place in the North Atlantic. I hear that 9/11 is different, but that’s only because it’s still fairly recent in our living memories. In any other context, it’s just another memorial – like Arlington or Pearl Harbor or any of a thousand other places. I can’t wrap my head around selling trinkets at one being any worse than doing it at any of the others.

2. Finger licking. There’s something altogether repulsive about someone who licks their fingers to separate the papers that just came rolling off the printer and then hands your set of prints over as if they’re doing you a favor and all that paper isn’t now covered in their cast off saliva. It makes me throw up a little in my mouth… and there just isn’t enough hand sanitizer on the planet to make this an OK thing to do.

3. Anything that delays your departure from the office on the day before your 4-day weekend starts. I think this one is fairly self explanatory.

12 years on…

“We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.” – President Ronald Reagan, commemorating the 40th Anniversary of D-Day.

Those words commemorate a different conflict for a different generation, but the sentiment remains. Going on with our lives is the natural way of things. None of us should be expected to live forever in the darkest shadows of that day twelve years ago… but still, we owe it to ourselves and to generations yet to come to remember that we live in a world where those who hate us will use any means at their disposal to do us grievous harm. We’ll go on with life, because that’s as it should be. We’ll go on, as we have following every trial and tribulation, but we will remember. Always.