The invitation I issued to readers last week to rant about their (least) favorite irritations brought in the expected deluge.
While I don't recommend walking around in a constant state of vein-popping anger, an occasional vitriolic tirade is good for the system. Better to let it out in a controlled setting, methinks, than keep it bottled up inside.
That's the service I cheerfully provide. As Centreville's Connie Gay wrote: "My husband thanks you for letting me vent at someone other than him."
Her rant? Read on.
Connie's rant involves those enclosures retailers install in parking lots to keep shopping carts from rolling around.
"Why can't shoppers actually push their carts completely into the areas in an organized way so that lots of carts can be accommodated?" she asked.
"I mean, the carts are made to fit neatly into one another! Many times the carts are pushed into the enclosures in such a haphazard way that the carts are sticking out into the driving lane and rolling around. Doesn't this defeat the purpose? Are we so busy that we cannot take two more seconds to place the carts in the enclosures in an organized fashion? I've even seen people push the carts at the opening of the enclosure but the cart rolls back out and they leave it there."
She continued: "Almost every time I shop at Giant or Costco I feel compelled to straighten out some of the carts when I return my cart. I try not to be anal about it, so I do not organize all the carts, but just a few while I silently fume inside."
Connie said she's been heartened by the public outpouring in the wake of Hurricane Katrina but wonders why we can't think about "what we can do to make things easier for each other in our daily lives. It's called consideration for others. And it takes practically no time at all!"
If she has inspired just one person to neatly stow his or her cart, my work here is done.
Driving Miss Crazy
Now it's the turn of Nancy Harding of Orange County, Va.: "Why can't people who are going through the bank's drive-up window get all their paperwork in order before they pull in? It drives me nuts to sit behind someone who is fiddling with stuff -- the little drawer goes out, back in, words are exchanged, the drawer goes back out, the patron takes something from the drawer, leans over and fiddles with stuff on the passenger seat, puts something back in the drawer, talks with the teller, the drawer goes in, the teller has more words with the patron, etc., etc. Would a little bit of organization kill these people?"
Maybe it's like what Edgar Bergen said about hard work: It never killed anybody, but why take the chance?
Olgamarie Maccary of Gaithersburg is driven to near apoplexy by the free address labels that charities deluge us all with: "Every week I get so many -- yesterday four envelopes of them, in a year well over a thousand, some spelled wrong. Is it possible for any average person to use more than four or five [labels] a week?"
Average person? No, unless you use them to wallpaper the dining room.
She's also fed up with television newscasters who end their programs by saying, "We'll see you tomorrow," as if they possessed a magic camera that allowed them to peer out of the TV and into our living rooms.
Said Olgamarie: "Why can't they be more realistic and say 'Join us again tomorrow,' 'Tune us in at 6' or 'We'll be with you again at 11'?"
Lost in Columbia
My rant about the lack of street signs and building numbers in the suburbs resonated with Joe Flynn of Burtonsville, who worked as a delivery driver 20 years ago. He said that after dealing with the worst the job could throw at him -- "the cabbies, buses, double-parked trucks, ignorant receptionists" -- the thing that finally sent him over the edge was trying to locate a certain building in Columbia.
He can't remember the name now; call it the Johnson Building. "My dispatcher told me I'd have 'no problem' finding it," said Joe. "Well, after driving around Little Patuxent Parkway for an hour and asking everybody in every building in downtown Columbia where the Johnson Building was, I gave up, turned in my two-way radio and started looking for a new job."
I wonder if the package was ever delivered.
John O'Hanlon purged himself of 17 different rants on a range of assorted subjects. They included these particular betes noires:
"6. People in the office who ask you what you're eating for lunch, tell you it looks good, ask you if you cooked it, tell you it smells good. At that point, I feel like just giving it to them, then catching a hot dog at the corner vendor.
"12. Cops who drive behind you, and you have to go the speed limit to avoid a ticket. Then they tailgate you because you aren't going faster.
"15. Parents who have become anesthetized to their infant's screams and cries, but make no attempt to lower the decibel level in public."
Then there was No. 17: "Columnists who try to get readers to write for them, just because they run out of good ideas."
"Just kidding," he wrote.
Is a rant building up inside of you? Release the pressure during my weekly online chat, today at 1 p.m. at www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline.