Feeling peevish? These readers are.


A shopping cart is inconsiderately left in a parking space outside a Silver Spring grocery store. This is just one of the minor irritations that infuriate readers. (John Kelly/The Washington Post)
John Kelly
Columnist August 26, 2013

The No. 1 scourge bedeviling our country today isn’t unemployment, global warming or illegal immigration. It isn’t antibiotic-resistant bacteria, crumbling highway overpasses or rabid pit bulls.

It’s cashiers who hand our change back with the bills first and the coins second.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

“The coins slide all over, and I have to use my other hand to grab the coins, then wad the bills up in the receiving hand,” wrote Marcy Tarter of Manassas, describing an all-too-common scenario. “If it is really busy or I’m in a hurry, sometimes I leave a trail of coins. I use self-service checkout facilities whenever possible, at least until the change machines pick up this annoying habit.”

Marcy was writing in response to my recent invitation to share pet peeves: those minor irritations that in the grand scheme of things may not amount to a hill of beans, but that nevertheless, like an uncooked bean stuck inside our shoe, are bothersome.

So, fasten your seatbelts. It’s time to grumble, kvetch and moan.

Pete Parisi’s peeve is when TV network promos announce “an ALL-NEW episode” of a show. “Of course it’s all new,” writes Pete of Annandale. “What’s the alternative? Half-new and half-rerun, for crying out loud?”

Speaking of television: “Every news report does not qualify as BREAKING NEWS,” writes Reston’s Betty Edge.

Writes Emily Joyce of Crownsville: “I hate it when a really obnoxious TV ad is repeated five or six times in half an hour. My mute button is going to wear out!”

Stupid TV. But also: stupid newspaper. John I. Dale can’t stand it when the folds in one of The Washington Post’s tabloid sections — Weekend, Local Living, etc. — are off center, “forcing me to realign said folds when I have better things to do with my time. (Stupid paper folding machine!)”

Jonathan Deutsch of Arlington is not alone in being peeved by how you have to scroll and click to find your state when filling in address information online. “What’s with that?” he wonders. “Even computer guys don’t know why you can’t type it in, like the other information.”

Arlington’s Christopher Coughlin gets irritated when he makes a call to a service provider (“Comcast comes to mind”) and is asked for all his information up front through the recorded service, only to be asked to provide it all over again when he finally talks to a human representative.

Fairfax’s Almuth Payne thinks a certain word has become overused: “ ‘Killer,’ as in killer dessert, killer heels, killer abs, etc.,” Almuth writes. “Don’t we have enough real killers around to use this as a ‘fun’ adjective?”

Fairfax’s Jack French finds himself annoyed when he pulls on the tab-ring lid of a can of soup or sardines only to have it snap off in his hand. “You then hunt for a needle-nosed pliers to extract the lid, hoping not to cut yourself,” Jack writes.

Some peoples’ bugbears are oddly specific. David Summer’s peeve is when the news media misspells the name of a certain Southwestern city. “Specifically, I mean Tucson,” David writes. “It’s amazing how many times (sometimes even in national print and TV) it is spelled ‘Tuscon.’”

David says he even saw a hotel brochure in Tucson — for a hotel in Tucson — in which the city was spelled “Tuscon.”

Maybe they were trying to spell “Tuscan”?

I could write a book about the intransigence of fitted sheets. McLean’s Karen Tillotson notes one annoyance: “I hate not being able to fold a fitted sheet evenly to match the straight folds of the flat sheet and pillowcases coming out of the linen closet.”

McLean’s Fred Schantz has what must be a universal peeve: “Being woken by the noise of lawn services or construction.”

Dianne Hall’s nemesis? Window envelopes for return correspondence. “I have mailed them back with the address not showing,” writes the Silver Spring resident.

Finally, Malcolm D. Wilson of Kensington, what do you hate? “I hate it when people leave shopping carts in the parking space at the grocery store.”

But don’t despair. It’s not all negative. In Wednesday’s column we’ll explore the little things that make us — dare I say it? — happy. There’s still time to add to the list. E-mail me at the address below.

For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

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