Pet peeves leave other readers peeved

Columnist

Reaction was pretty much evenly split after last week’s trilogy on pet peeves, which I’ve taken to calling the Kvetch Cycle. Half the readers I heard from thought the complaints were stupid — and half wanted to send in their own pet peeves.

I’ll save the latter for another day. As for the former, Paul Wolfe of College Park was among readers who couldn’t see why someone would hate “the moving walkway is now ending” announcements at National Airport. Wrote Paul: “One of my pet peeves is people who are so self-absorbed that they fail to see that audio warnings serve a purpose for other people — such as persons who are sight-impaired.”

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

Bethesda’s Michael K. Hoffman was surprised to learn that one reader hates hearing the word “niche” pronounced as “neesh.” “The root is French, after all, going back hundreds of years,” Michael wrote. “Is the pronunciation change part of the anti-French campaign left over from the G.W. Bush years?” Rather than being elitist, Michael said, he always thought it “showed respect to pronounce words as they are in their original language.”

Philip J. Waclawik of Gaithersburg took exception to the reader who didn’t like seeing birthday wishes among the “In Memory Of” section of The Post’s death notices. His son Carl, a member of the Class of 2010 at St. John’s College High School in the District, died suddenly in 2007, a week before his 16th birthday.

“Birthdays of deceased loved ones are sacred days to those who have lost a loved one, especially a child who died early in life,” Philip wrote. “What harm does it do to make public a birthday wish to a lost loved one? For many people, a newspaper entry is part of the grieving process which manifests itself in many different ways.”

I glibly mentioned that most people hate bicyclists who ride on the sidewalk. Not so fast, wrote Susan R. Paisner: “What’s my choice if I opt to bike to work (from Silver Spring, down Georgia and then onto 16th and then 17th)? Bike on the sidewalk (that thing obviously so many people hate) or bike in the street (where the drivers hate me, honk at me, frighten me, and pass me left and right, often dangerously close)?”

Yeah, said Joyce Migdall, who wrote: “According to the laws of Virginia, ‘Bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks unless prohibited by local ordinance or traffic control devices. While on sidewalks and shared use paths, bicyclists must always yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian.’ ”

Joyce invited me to bike from her house in Falls Church up Route 7 to Trader Joe’s. “I’ll be on the sidewalk beside you for much of the way,” she wrote.

By all means, ride on sidewalks in the suburbs and in the outer reaches of Washington. Be mindful of pedestrians, and I have no problem with that. But it is illegal to bike on the sidewalk in downtown Washington. And refusing to bike on the street allows drivers to think bicycles don’t belong there.

The District’s Steven Alan Honley caught a mistake in my column, in the item where a reader said he was annoyed by “subway riders who ride up the elevator and hold their palms up to see whether it is raining.”

Whoops, I meant “escalator.” But even so, Steven wrote, “I’m baffled as to why such behavior enrages him enough to complain to you. How does seeing that gesture affect him?”

Hey, we can’t always explain our annoyances.

Annandale’s Gordon Gill had this to say about the reader who doesn’t like seeing women’s breasts spilling from their clothes: “In all likelihood, your correspondent’s revulsion at seeing other women’s cleavages arises from a fundamentalist pastor having told her that facilitating glimpses of human body parts is evil, sinful, and wicked (a view that cannot be justified through Scripture). Enlightened Christian men and women do not accept such a premise.”

Hooray for the Enlightenment! But I wonder what Gordon thinks of plumber’s crack. That’s a glimpse of a human body part I can do without.

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