The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 5, 2012

Jo Ellis: High temperatures cranking up tempers

CARTHAGE, Mo. — I’ve come to this conclusion: It’s OK to be cranky in hot weather. Out-of-sight temperatures bring on over-the-top tempers.

So exercising that right to crankiness, I’ve decided to give full rein to some random thoughts and observations about things that make me peevish. You can call them pet peeves or petty peeves (which most of them probably are), but with 100-degree-plus temperatures day in and day out, expressing them is a way of keeping my cool.

Currently, it’s those recorded political phone calls that interrupt at the most inopportune times. As soon as I can detect it is a candidate, regardless of which political party is represented, I just hang up. I’ve always wondered if they know how many hang-ups they get. It always amuses me how fast they start talking to try to get their name in before the line goes dead.

You won’t believe this, but I just got another one immediately after writing that last paragraph. Yes, I hung up. If I were ever to run for an office (which is as preposterous as our getting a rainstorm in the next two weeks), I would never use recorded phone calls, no matter what the advisers advise.

The other phone thing that sends me over the edge is the operator telling me: “We’re sorry, you must first dial a 1‚ or a 0‚ when calling this number.” I redial the number, following her instructions, and then she tells me: “You do not need to dial a 1 or a 0 when calling this number.” I just yell “aarrgghh” at the phone in my best Charlie Brown impression.

Those thick cardboard ad inserts in magazines are so annoying. They keep getting in the way, and the loose ones fall on the floor. I can’t really enjoy a magazine until I’ve gone through and ripped them all out.

And what about that small print they use to give directions for use on medicines, cleaning products and huge quantities of other items? I would need a Hubble telescope to read them.

Driving and parking tend to bring out some other irritations that have been simmering in the background. The worst offenders, I think, are the creeping drivers who never seem to come to a full stop. They keep creeping up to and even beyond the stop sign, leading you to ask, “Will they or won’t they stop?”

There are drivers who don’t realize they have a turn signal on their vehicle, or else have forgotten how to use it. Then there are those who use it, but forget to turn it off. “Are they or aren’t they going to turn?”

Parking is another issue. Cars are supposed to be parked within the yellow lines — not on or over them. I am probably guilty of this as well, at least on the first attempt. Some of those parking spaces are really narrow. But it doesn’t take but a few seconds to back up and pull in straight.

Then there are those shoppers who can artfully block an entire aisle with just two carts while they catch up on their family histories. And workmen and deliverymen who do not show up at the appointed time. And junk mail. And junk email. Is there anyone I have failed to offend?

Yes, we’re smack-dab in the middle of the dog days of summer, and extreme heat can definitely lead to an increased level of crankiness. Or maybe it’s just old age. I’m OK with it though, whatever it is.

Address correspondence to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email

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