I’m a world-class complainer. I’ve been doing it all my life. I’ve honed my skill like a fine piece of art. Blessed with a quick wit and a dark sense of humor, I always know the wrong thing to say. I can find fault in everything from the weather in Hawaii to a slice of chocolate cake. Being of average height, I can poke fun at tall people and the height impaired. Being overweight and getting worse as I age, I hate skinny people. Never accept an invitation to dinner from a skinny person. A skinny person obviously can’t cook. Never drive on a California freeway during rush hour. There are twenty-four rush hours on a Southern California day.
Never eat at a Southern California restaurant on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night. All restaurants are closed on Mondays. That leaves Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Make sure you get there by four-thirty. After that, you’ll get a table sometime around three AM. Never order a filet. If you do, ensure your credit score is above 9,000, or you can secure your loan with a small child or your wife. Sometimes I just need red meat. A filet cost as much as our new car. I ordered a filet. I asked if I could lease it. Made sense to me. After all, I could return most of it within twenty-four hours.
One Sunday afternoon, Lillian was taking a woodworking class in Pasadena. I intended to spend a few hours at the library. Unfortunately, all libraries in Southern California are closed on Sundays. People in California are brilliant. They drive like idiots, and by Sunday, their brains are full. Returning on Monday morning, there’ll be room in their cranium again. I headed to the Norman Simon Museum with a few hours to kill. Being lunchtime, before looking at the priceless art collected by some rich dude, I headed to their snack bar. Standing in line, I overheard two snooty women playing the one-upmanship game. One woman was yakking about her European lecture tour of all the great monasteries. She was talking about the likelihood of Pegan’s influences on medieval art. But the other lady was the impressive one. She acknowledged, smiled, and encouraged the conversation while standing in line, sound asleep. Now that’s a skill. One she undoubtedly learned while listening to her husband.
When it was my turn to buy my eighteen-dollar turkey sandwich, they only had gluten-free bread. Gee Gary, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Snooty people annoy me. I usually can tune them out, but I was in the sandwich line from hell. Turkey and alfalfa sprouts consumed; it was time for rich guy art. As I circulated among the Picassos, Renoirs, and Van Goghs’, all the patrons’ conversations were the same. Each and every one of them was extolling the virtues of the world cruise they just took or the benefit concert they conducted. Many of you wonder why Gary didn’t go to the beach and earn eyeball demerits or spend the afternoon hanging out at an Irish Pub. Now, all of you are beginning to annoy me.
Safety Tip: Never complain about anything you have the power yourself to change. If you do, you’re either lazy or just sniveling. Here are some acceptable subjects for complaints:
The Weather: There is no reason to complain about the weather in Southern California. But people do. Lillian and I’ve survived three hurricanes, several tornados, and one and a half earthquakes. I know earthquakes are not weather. But they are caused by either global warming or AOC’s small evil hands. This is just one of the many facts I got from Fox News. These same two women I was chained to at the museum were complaining about the weather. The café was outside, and we stood in a downpour. Some folks in California invented the internet, but they couldn’t spare the time to come up with the umbrella. These snoots were carping about the inaccuracies in weather predictions, never accurate. Perhaps back in some medieval monastery, they couldn’t get a forecast right to save their crucifix. But today, we have supercomputers and, wait for it – RADAR.
The Post Office: Who hasn’t encountered a grumpy postal employee? After all, the Post Office is a government organization, right? While the post office is a building with disgruntled employees, the US Postal Service is the largest employer in the US, except for Walmart. A regional distribution center has mail sorting machines the size of a football field. While FedEx and UPS suck up the lucrative long-haul shipment of packages, the USPS is legally required to deliver to every house in America and US service members overseas. US Embassy personnel get their mail and booze by diplomatic pouch, but that’s a different story. Your letter and a 63-cent stamp can get to any home in America in three days. The USPS only remains fiscally viable by flooding you with junk mail. When the cost of gas increases by a penny, the USPS has an additional burden of millions of dollars. It requires Margorie Taylor Green and Bernie Sanders to sign a blood oath to raise the price of a stamp. Complain about the post office all day long but leave the USPS alone.
The Government: Remember Ronald Reagan’s famous quote about the problem was the government. Sure, the government is bloated, wasteful, and much of it, unnecessary. Unnecessary until a wildfire burns your house down or you want clean water. When I hear some moron wax eloquently about how the government should be run like a business, I want to beat them with my Medicare card. One of my last jobs in my working life was as a consultant to the director of a major government agency. Being paranoid and insecure, he hired a series of MBA/accounting firms to help him run the organization like a business. The suits would trundle in with one foolish business process after another. Six Sigma, Balanced Scorecard, etc. My favorite was ‘Activity-Based Costing.’ This MBA merry-go-round explored which activities cost the organization the most money.
At a leadership off-site, the director and his senior officers were given an exercise to outline the cost of a neighborhood grocery store. You know, buying the produce from the wholesaler, leasing a fleet of delivery trucks, and paying the store employees. The goal was to determine which activities cost the most and which were the most efficient. The elements of cost go round and round. Sitting next to the director as this nonsense danced in my head, I mumbled – ‘as a shopper, if we just cut out the check-out aisle, we could get our groceries for free.’ The MBA Einstein’s were gone in less than a week. You can complain about the government, but be careful what you wish for.
Politicians: Complaining about politicians is our national pastime. Move over, baseball. Hating on politicians is bigger than the MLB. Most of you know this about me. I’m a ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ kind of Republican. You know the type; they’re called Democrats. Most of my working-life friends were RINOs. Most didn’t give two hoots about social issues, but they just wanted to rein in government spending. They complained about government waste as they built billion-dollar systems.
Later, I took to calling the whole business the ‘white boy jobs program.’ Ok, ok, these systems kept the bad guys on their side of the fence and protected our troops. I get it. But this is a post about complaining, so I’ll move on. What I hate most about politicians is that far too many of them are old. Too many are well over eighty. I think Chuck Grassley was first elected to the Senate during the Lincoln administration. Sadly, Diane Feinstein passed away several months ago. However, she is still one of the most effective legislators. The only problem is she needs Chuck Schumer to wheel her onto the Senate floor and can only speak when Chucky puts his hand delicately around her back. Don’t even get me started on the younger ones. Ideological demigods, the lot of them. Wacko-birds.
The Media: One of the most excellent parts of getting old is your opinions don’t need to be based on facts. Alternative or otherwise. Crazy uncle kind of opinions. Today we all get our news regurgitated straight from the peak of our favorite talking head. We drink in the pureed nonsense like it was holy water. The twenty-four-hour so-called news cycle is the Kool-Aid we inject into our veins. The infection has gone to our brains. Do you know there are no more local news stations, or at least they’re drying up. I think local news is now provided by Olive Garden. In my next life, I’d like to start a ‘good news network.’ Over the entire twenty-four hours, I’d show nothing but good news. When I ran out of good news, I’d show documentaries of walruses mating. I think I could watch that for twenty-four hours.
I’ve tossed up my 1500-word salad for this week, so I’ll stop. However, I’m not done complaining, so next week, I’ll cover even more forbidden topics – like religion. Yup, I’m going to step on the third rail.
Until then. . .