What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Standards. As a matter of principle, I never hold anyone to a higher standard than I hold myself. By the same token I don’t hold them to a lower one either. I’m many things but I do my best to avoid having hypocrite show up on that list – especially when it’s no harder a matter than maintaining just a little bit of consistency. Jaded as I am, though, I still find I can be surprised when people seem to behave with no sense of personal standards at all. Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure whether it bothers me more that they do it or that I care.

2. Low Expectations. The high point of this week at the office was the arrival and unboxing of a new industrial strength shredder. I’m not even making that up. Given the volume of paper we push a heavy duty shredder isn’t a luxury item. It’s damned near an essential. An essential that we haven’t had for the last quarter of a year. It makes me a little sad to find my expectations of what constitutes a “good day” have been lowered so far that being able to turn PowerPoints into confetti now falls near the very top of the list.

3. Apple. I found myself reading through the initial reports from this afternoon’s Apple product rollout and rather than finding myself in need of selling a kidney for some new tech, I found myself mostly shrugging with something that approximated indifference. The latest iteration of iPad lacked something of the wow factor of a truly new product. The new iMac looks well enough kitted up, but not nearly enough to get me to drop $3K+ on on a desktop computer. There was nothing there that will find me leaping from bed at 3AM to make sure my pre-order is in. I know that every new product update can’t be a show stopper, but I’d have appreciated a little bit of “wow” when it comes time to deliver what should be iconic product offerings.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Neighbors. Tuesday night, one of the strong storms passing through the area cleaved several large branches off a tree in the neighbor’s yard. Two of those large limbs landed squarely in my yard, so after work I got out the saw, cut them up and piled them neatly for burning once they’ve hand a few weeks to dry out. The third of the limbs to come down fell in the neighbor’s yard, but landed in such a way that it snapped one of my fence posts and buckled several rails. Two days later, I’m still looking at that downed limb lying across a crumpled fence from my kitchen window. The neighbors have been home. I’ve seen the kids playing in the yard and I’ve seen their vehicles come and go, but neither of them has broached the subject of the limb, or the fence. We’re now engaged in a great game of seeing how long it takes the neighbor takes to do some basic yard work and if they’ve got the personal integrity to at least offer to take care of the repairs. Given my observation over the last four years, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for either of those things to happen. If the shoe were on the other foot, I’d have addressed the issue already… and therein clearly lies the problem of holding others to the standards to which I hold myself.

2. Standing corrected. I hereby retract that mean things I said about my credit union yesterday. I discovered today that the fault was all mine for making a boneheaded mistake writing out the damned check. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa.

3. Attempted guilting. Since the office is now officially down to four, there’s apparently going to be a self-appointed chief of attempting to make everyone feel guilty about taking time off, “because then everyone else is sooooooo busy.” Maybe if I were a better person, I would feel guilty. Then I remember that I didn’t create the staff shortage and that I’ve earned every hour of leave I’ve banked over the last eleven years, so I’m going to go ahead and schedule it when I need it rather than when it’s convenient for someone else. I’ve got problems enough of my own without giving in to attempted guilting. Nice try, though.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. US Postal Service. I know they’re everyone’s favorite whipping boy. I’ve taken them to task a time or two myself, but I like to think it’s not a knee jerk reaction. When a bunch of people are talking about having a craptastic delivery experience, there’s probably at least some truth to the notion. Really, it could all be avoided if the package I ordered last Monday with an estimated delivery date of last Saturday had any sign of ever leaving its point of origin in Oklahoma. Sure, I know first class mail isn’t an overnight service, but it doesn’t seem excessive to expect the post office to, at a minimum, avoid losing track of a package that has a tracking number printed on it. At the very least, they might want to actually respond to a customer request for information from time to time. As a historic institution, I want to like the USPS, but there’s generally a reason I’m willing to pay a few dollars more to ship items through a more reliable provider.

2. McDonald’s. I’ve noticed two things about the local McDonald’s here in scenic Elkton. 1) They’ve never gotten my drive thru order 100% correct; and 2) When I go inside to complain and get the order corrected, the place looks like a damned sty. I’m not a regular, but sometimes you just want a Big Mac and super-salty fries. All I’m saying is that having had the experience of spending more years working at a McDonald’s franchise than I want to admit, the kind of service and level of cleanliness I see here definitely wouldn’t have passed muster back in the day. Im not saying I liked cleaning stainless or sweeping the lobby and more than these guys do, but I do think the standards 19-odd years ago were definitely better. Then again, that seems to be endemic, so maybe it’s just society in general that’s pissing me off and McDonald’s is just a symptom.

3. Harvey Weinstein. So Harvey has decided that he is going to make a movie taking on the NRA because he “doesn’t think we need guns in this country.” I guess violence is bad, except when it’s being used as a plot point to generate billions in revenue from such peaceful films as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, Grindhouse, Rambo, and Django Unchained. I’m not sure Harvey commands the moral high ground on this one. Pot, meet kettle.

Blockage…

I realize that I’m using a work computer on a work network and I’m completely cool with there being limits on how those things can be used. I just think there should be a little more transparency about what the rules are and how they are applied. No internet porn. Got it. I’ll try to remember that it’s whitehouse.gov next time. No harm, no foul. But how about the BLOCKED/Humor category. I can’t get to The Oatmeal or The Onion, but I can get to Dilbert.com. Irony much? Why is it I can’t check the winning Powerball numbers (that site is BLOCKED/Gambling), but the guy next to me can spend half the afternoon selling stuff on eBay? I mean we’re both just trying to strike it rich, right? He’s just willing to put in a little more effort than I am.

Look, I’m not saying there shouldn’t be standards… I’m just saying that once again, you guys down in the network ops bunker are doing it all wrong. At least you’re consistent.

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.

Data call…

When I ask for some information and mention that it’s for the boss, the appropriate response is not to then get up, walk down the hall, get water for your plants, talk to your best girl friend on the phone for 20 minutes, eat a granola bar and then get around to sending me the info an hour later. Look, I know I’m new in town, but I didn’t get here on the turnip truck. Mkay? Thanks.

I seriously wonder sometimes if it’s my standards that are unrealistically high or if the rest of the world really is just that stupid, ignorant, or just gold fashioned oblivious to everything going on around them.

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date