What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. A plastic bag. There’s a white plastic bag in the top branch of one of the trees in my front yard. It makes me unreasonably angry. Mostly because even with a ladder I don’t have any implements long enough to haul it down. So, I’ll have this damned plastic bag stuck in front of the house forever or until I cut the tree down, I guess. Just another reason why I hate people. This bag belonged to someone but because they are an irresponsible asshat, now I get to look at it indefinitely out the front window.

2. The days of the week. The only real trouble I’ve had in this long stretch of working from home, is that the days have a real tendency to bleed together. Monday is a lot like Thursday which is a lot like Saturday and on, and on, and on. Hey, I’m a creature of habit, I’m not really complaining… but it does lead to a lot of minor moments of crises that start off with “Oh shit, that was supposed to do that today.”

3. r/wallstreetbets. The Redditors of r/wallstreetbets were mad geniuses last week, executing a classic short squeeze and costing at least one hedge fund a couple of billion dollars. Everyone likes it when the scrappy upstart scores one against the big guys. I get it. The fun part was once things started happening the broader world thought, inexplicably, that everyone could ride GameStop shares to the moon. Now there are posts awash with disbelief that people have the audacity to sell shares and take some profit. Maybe the folks over on Reddit play by different rules, but expecting anyone to ride a stock as wildly overvalued as GameStop had become and then hold it there at its highs indefinitely as the knife started falling back to earth, feels like exactly the kind of wackiness I’ve come to expect from message board people. 

On becoming the villain…

If there’s been one constant during my tenure in the bureaucracy it’s that Friday is almost universally “take out the trash day.” It’s the day everyone throws the projects or tasks (i.e. absolute trash) that’s been stinking up their workspace over to the next poor dumb bastard who’s supposed to do something with it. 

The trash could be anything – vague policy, badly written memos, research or answers that are needed first thing Monday morning that no one got around to asking for until 4 PM on Friday afternoon. It’s all just junk that someone didn’t get around to working on before the weekend started to bear down on them.

On alternate Fridays, this endless flow of trash bears down on my desk. In the finest traditions of the bureaucracy, I do my part to shove it onwards through the pipe to make sure it doesn’t spend the weekend making a stink of my own work area. Where it ends up and what happens to it when it gets there is entirely secondary to its not becoming stuck on me.

Yeah, I’ve definitely lived long enough to become the villain of the piece.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. The NeverEnding Project. If it weren’t for the Great Plague, I’d have had this particular project behind me for almost a month now. Instead, though, it got delayed, deferred, and then converted to an “online experience.” A better man than me might be laser focused on delivering a world class product – or at least be interested in something beyond the minimum acceptable standard… but honestly, my only objective is for this time-sucking vanity project to reach its long-suffering conclusion, regardless of whether it’s good, bad, or mediocre.

2. The market isn’t the economy. A million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a youth, an obscure southern governor won the presidency on the back of the mantra “It’s the economy, stupid.” Despite the easy money propping up the stock market right now, I have to think that underlying economic conditions driven by our response (or lack thereof) to the Great Plague will be what drives Election 2020 as we draw towards November and people broadly start paying attention to electoral politics. My take, bound to be unpopular in MAGA circles, is that if the Republican Party wants to maintain any relevancy in the next four years, it’s time to focus all our time and money on holding on to the Senate.

3. Complaints. The number of things I do on a weekly basis because “if we don’t, someone might complain” should be disturbing. Doing things just so MaryJane Douchebag doesn’t open her yap just doesn’t feel like a good enough reason to do something that you wouldn’t otherwise do. No one (except me) seems to find it disturbing, though. I have no idea when we became a society that spends so much time worrying that someone might complain, but here we are. It’s dumb, I hate it, and it’s just another example of how the 21st century is absolute trash.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Douchebags who litter. Driving through the historic summer tourist trap of North East, Maryland I was following a SUV towing a jet ski who eventually turned into one of the local marinas. There’s nothing unusual about that this time of year. Also not unusual, because people are mostly awful, was the fact that the passenger kept throwing cigarette butts and trash out the window. I assume, because of the jet ski, that these people enjoy being outside and on the water… which is about 50 yards away from where the last butt fell. That’s the head scratcher, for me. Where exactly to asshats like this think their ash and trash is going to end up the next time it rains? Then again, that question implies that they’re the kind of people who bother thinking at all and that’s probably a poor assumption on my part.

2. Online marketing. I brought home my newest pup over a month ago. While I appreciate the mission of the several dozen rescue organizations I looked at prior to that, I don’t now need to see the animals that are currently available… every time I log in to a social media account. It feels like the algorithms should take into account that the average person, regardless of how much they’d like to, is not going to adopt ALL the animals. Rest assured when the time comes I will seek these organizations out… but just now you’re wasting their marketing dollars by targeting me.

3. Panic as management strategy. I assume there’s a time and a place for panic. I’m not entirely clear what that time or place would be on an average day, though. Losing your head and making shit decisions as a result doesn’t feel like a best management practice. Especially when there are stacks and stacks of paperwork that tell you how to respond to almost any conceivable situation. I haven’t read them all… but I’ve read enough of them to know that flailing your arms and calling all hands to the pumps isn’t usually featured prominently as a how to recommendation.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Doing it on the cheap. I’m assuming that the plastic mailbox pedestal you’ve installed proudly in the front yard is supposed to look like stone. I’m sure you’re trying hard to ape the style of the big houses up the hill. I’m sure someone in your house, maybe even you, thought it looked good. That assessment was incorrect. It’s tacky as hell.

2. Jet noise. Local news out of Anne Arundel County reports that residents near Baltimore-Washington International Airport are upset because they’re hearing jet noise. Let’s recap: 1) You bought a house near the airport; 2) Now you’re upset that airports are noisy and want the county to make the FAA do something about it. In summation: You’re an idiot.

3. Wind and the failure to plan for it. Every trash can in the neighborhood blew over last night. Since the weather reports were all calling for a dramatic change in weather following a fast moving system of thunder storms, high wind overnight shouldn’t have come as a surprise. But it did, because of course it did. Now, those overturned 60-gallon rolling trash barrels have spewed paper products and plastic bottles into every gutter and wood line, leaving our little corner of the county looking like some kind of 3rd world shithole. Somehow I don’t expect the doctors, lawyers, or Indian chiefs in my hood will bother themselves it make it right. All for the want of a few $2 bungee cords.

I’m apparently a hippy…

As one of my furlough cost savings measures implemented last summer, I cancelled my trash collection contract, opting to spend about 1/8th as much money and take my trash to the dump myself. As I loaded the truck this morning in preperation for the monthly trash run, I couldn’t help but notice that it included two bags of actual “trash”, but four bags and a 45 gallon can of paper and plastic recyclables – no metals because I can cash those in separately at the scrap yard down the road from the dump. I have to admit I was surprised by how the volume of trash to the volume of recyclables has shifted. Ten bags of trash a month was the pre-furlough norm.

I didn’t start any of this because of any actual altruistic motive, rather I did it because separating trash from recycling saved half off the “regular” dump fee – more furlough savings. Now that it’s part of my regular routine, though, it seems to have become a self sustaining habit. Add that to the edibles/biodegradable items that get chunked out under the bushes in a makeshift compost pile, and apparently I’m a tree-hugging hippy… for all the wrong reasons, of course.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

It’s been a slow week for petty annoyances… and while that’s technically a good thing because it tends to mean my blood pressure isn’t all over the map, it also doesn’t make for a great weekly spot. Despite being a pretty good week overall, there are a few things that I can’t let pass without mentioning.

1. Support services. Theoretically, office trash is supposed to be picked up three times a week. That happens probably 50% of the time. 40% of the time, someone shows up for it twice a week. Last week was one of those 10% moments when no one came by at all. I tote and haul my own trash at home, so I don’t have any philosophical issues with carrying it to the dumpster here at the office – it’s more so a function of a) not knowing where the trash actually goes once it leaves my cubicle, b) not having any of the baby-sized trash bags to replace the one I need to throw out, and c) we’re paying someone good money on a contract that calls for them to, you know, take the bloody trash out three times a week. It’s a small thing, I know, but I have a creeping suspicion that it’s just the surface-level indication that government writ large doesn’t have a clue what kind of quality service it’s getting for our money.

2. Favors. As a rule I try not to ask for favors. That’s mostly because I don’t want to end up then owing someone a favor down the line. If someone asks, though, and it’s not too off-putting, I’m generally open to helping them out. All I really ask is that you be clear about your request. For instance, if you say something like “Hey, can you pick me up a Coke when you go get your lunch” don’t act surprised when what I bring back is a Coke. You see, the thing is, I can’t read your mind. I have no earthly way of knowing that by “Coke” you mean Diet Coke. Honestly, I just don’t pay that kind of attention to people’s daily beverage choices, so I make the blithe assumption that you’re asking for what you actually want. If I asked someone to pick me up a cup of coffee, I’m not sure I’d be offended if they brought back a cup of regular black coffee instead of a vinti-vanilla-latte-extra-hot-with-a-shot. I would have failed to specify what I really wanted… and I damned sure wouldn’t have stood there expecting the person doing me the favor to cover the cost of what I asked them to bring me because they weren’t able to read my bloody effing mind and know what I asked for wasn’t what I wanted. I would have just said “thanks” and gone on about my day. From here on out, the answer is always “no.” Thanks for playing.

As a side note, this is the 53rd regular installment of What Annoys Jeff this Week. Hard as it is to believe, you’ve been listening to my weekly list of grips for a year now. I won’t say it’s actually been cathartic, but it sure is fun to take a little time once a week to call out stupid for what it is.

Dear Neighbor (or Another reason why I hate people)…

Dear Neighbor,

They pick up the trash in our subdivision on Wednesday. It’s customary for folks to put their trash out on Tuesday evening and then take their newly emptied trashcan off the curb when they get home Wednesday afternoon. Is it really so hard for you to get with the program? Why is your lovely green can still sitting on the curb on Saturday morning? It’s right there by your mailbox and I’ve seen you picking up your mail in the afternoons when you get home. Is it too hard for you to extend your other hand and drag your can back to the garage like every other damned person in the universe?

And another thing… Why the hell are you watering your lawn? I mean, really, why bother? You clearly hate cutting your grass because you do it so rarely… Not to mention that there are three foot tall weeds growing around every obstruction in your yard… including you house. If you’re not going to do the required maintenance, why do something that actually encourages the stuff to grow in the first place? And really, if you’re too lazy to break out the weedeater once a week, at least invest $5.00 in a bottle of Round-up and kill that shit.

Yours very sincerely,