Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Blowing Off Steam

This is a self indulgent, on going post in which I complain, complain, and complain. If you are reading this post, which is unlikely, I hope you identify with some of my annoyances.

John McCain's impulsive choice of people [10/17/2008]. John McCain's less-than-thoughtful choice of people is scary. First there is his vice presidential choice, Sarah Palin, who he chose after a 15 minute telephone talk with her. And during the third presidential debate a major argument against Obama's tax strategy is that Joe the Plumber's taxes would increase.Turns out that (1) Joe the Plumber's tax would not increase and (2) Joe the Plumber owes back taxes of $1,200 for which there is lien on his house. So are we to trust whom John McCain picks to run his government if he is elected? Give me a break!

Police officer's question [09/24/2008]. When a police officer calls or stops you why do they always ask if you know why he is calling or stopping you?

Yesterday I stopped my car on my block and stepped out to chat with a neighbor. The emergency brake failed, the car rolled backwards and hit a tree on my neighbor's property. Aside from the rear of the car being crushed, it was a nice parking job. The next day I received a call from a local police officer and, aside from identifying himself, the first thing he said was "Mr. Glass, do you know why I am calling?" I replied "I think so but I don't know why you would. Why don't you tell me why you are calling?" He then told me he was calling about my car. And I'm sure that most of you, when stopped by a cop on the highway, have been asked "Sir/Madame do you know why I have stopped you?" What's this, some sort of guessing game? Wouldn't it be more honest and socially appropriate to say "Sir/Madame I have stopped you for speeding"?

So what's behind this technique? Here are some possibilities:

  • To find out if you are honest or not.
  • To catch guilt ridden serial killers: "I knew you'd get me eventually, I'm really sorry about killing those twenty people! Oh, you only stopped me because my front left head light is out?"
  • To establish an authority position and put you off balance
More than likely it's the latter. Perhaps Interacting With People 101 For Cops needs to be updated. Do you remember the scene in an Abbott and Costello routine where Costello asks the cop "Are you a public servant?" The cop answers yes and Costello responds "Then get me a glass of water!"

Post Script: My wife related this incident to her trainer, who is an ex-cop. To my surprise he didn't defend the cop who called me; his take was that the reason the cop started the conversation with "Do you know why I'm calling?" was to make me feel like a little boy. Furthermore he felt that the call was an invasion of my privacy.

Tennis commentary on US TV [09/09/2008]. Why are three commentators needed to describe two people hitting a ball back and forth? They constantly chatter amongst themselves, often not about the current action on the court, spouting redundant and inane verbiage.

US drivers on highways [09/09/2008]. Why do US drivers think the fast lane is the slow lane? And they either don't know enough or are too stubborn to get out the way. Then there is the real idiot who, on a three lane highway, decides that the middle lane is the slow lane. This is really dangerous since cars then pass on the left and right. In Europe drivers cooperate with each other and and treat driving like a dance. They move over for cars wanting to pass. Yes, Americans often feel that driving in Europe is "crazy", but it has a rhyme and reason, and if one cooperates it's very efficient. Sometimes I fantasize that I have two 50mm canons mounted on my car so that I can blow these American idiot drivers off the road.

American Coffee [09/09/2008]. Why can't American restaurants and diners make a decent cup of coffee? It's not hard. You just have to use fresh beans, pay attention, and care. Often coffee is just watery swill. And espresso! Give me a break! Everyone now has terrific espresso machines that they don't know how to use. Sometimes I'm afraid to ask for a double because they'll end up running twice the amount of water through a single load of ground espresso beans. By the way, one of the best espresso place in New Jersey is Small World Coffee in Princeton. And although Starbucks gets a negative rap it does offer a consistently decent espresso.