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Column

Pet peeves: I’ve certainly got them; what are yours?

A woman sent a complaint to a syndicated advice columnist. She carped on and on about her hang-up with people who stick their hand out in greeting, expecting you to shake it. She bashed everyone who offers their hand in friendly greeting, calling them rude and inconsiderate.

Those “offenders” are extending a cordial, heartfelt greeting, by her own admission. Yet, she is determined to kill one of the few human courtesies left.

The lady needs to work through her own hang-up or phobia and come up with a polite and subtle way of declining an offered hand. First impressions are lasting, and rudeness is not quickly forgotten.

It seems to me when your peeve crosses the line of irritation into obsession, it no longer is a “pet” peeve. Therefore, I will refrain from talking about politics and all the major worldly problems of today.

I have asked my friends, and a few general public folks, what their pet peeves are, and I was told:

• People who misuse “their,” “there” and “they’re.”

• Tardiness.

• Lies.

• Rudeness.

• Tailgaters on the road.

• Road texters.

• Noisy, sloppy chewing.

• Warm bottled water.

• Snorting noises.

• Nose hairs sticking out.

• Others too numerous and varied to be listed here.

Did any hit home for you? They did me! One lady said, “My husband.” Smiling, I nodded in agreement — but then, show me a marital spouse who doesn’t have some irritating habits or pet peeves they love to inflict on their partner, and I’ll make a trip to Mars to interview them.

When in public, or sometimes even among your best friends, if you need to use eye drops, sneeze, blow your nose, or perform any other bodily functions, head for the nearest restroom or exit ASAP!

Sometimes, of course, these functions slip up on us, and there isn’t time. In which case, you’re marked as the grossest human specimen alive — doomed to be avoided at all costs! The company you’re with gives you that “you’re disgusting” look (you know, the one that makes you want to slide under the table). Then, to make sure their full message is absorbed, they whip out their supply of antiseptic wipes and pass them around: one of my pet peeves. I’m pretty lonesome these days.

Now, in addition to all pet peeves listed above, I get to tell you mine. My biggies mostly involve the public’s inconsiderate disposal of trash.

Gum: I have nothing against gum until it is left on a hot, blacktopped parking lot in line with the first foot to step out of the next vehicle parked in that spot. “What the heck is this stuff stringing into the car?” Hot gum stuck to my shoe, strung across the door jam, and onto the car floor. It was one sticky situation. GRRR!

Trash: There is no highway in the USA I’ve been on that’s not littered with fast-food cartons, sacks, cups, dirty diapers, plastic bags, beer/soda cans, etc. Hey, people, the world is not a trash barrel! There are, however, plenty available within a few feet from the door you will be passing through when you arrive at your destination. Any reason you couldn’t wait until you’re near one?

Cigarette butts: Now there’s one piece of trash that seems minuscule until we look at the big picture. Those small little bits accumulate into quite a pile if swept up.

The next time you step out of your car onto any piece of property frequented by the public, look down. My guess is, you will see cigarette butts on sidewalks, in the streets, along the curbs, and at public service stations. Outside businesses and public buildings, you will see cigarette receptacles generally surrounded by cigarette butts. Hey, people, the world is not an ashtray!

OK, so these pet peeves fringe on crossing that line into obsessions. This is because roadside trash and cigarette butts are so plentiful, they can’t be avoided. Constant reminders of the contamination of God’s earth. But, if something is bugging you, do something about it or quit yer belly-achin’.

So, if you see me along a roadside picking up trash, or with a broom and dustpan sweeping up my pet peeves, don’t think anything of it. In fact, you’re more than welcome to jump right in and help. Hey, people, I’m not crazy — I’m obsessed.

In the meantime, don’t forget to F-R-O-G.

Note to readers: Earlene Campbell lives by the FROG motto — Fully Rely On God. She lives in Princeton and can be reached at earlenecampbell@rocketmail.com.

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