Pet Peeves

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My mom was a stickler for using words correctly. One of her pet peeves was hearing someone make a grammatical error or mispronounce a word. If that person was a stranger she held her tongue, but if she knew the individual committing a usage sin, she would abruptly correct the violation. It sometimes angered me that she would do so. I often explained to her that there was a big difference between using the wrong linguistic structures in writing versus when speaking. I pointed out that speech is more informal and therefore more prone to idiomatic difficulties. Sadly my refutations were in vain. She expected everyone to think before opening their mouths and she actually judged folks by the way they spoke or misspoke.

I have a friend who has an aversion to unkempt feet. She goes absolutely bonkers if she sees someone wearing sandals with dirty or unmanicured toe nails. While she never addresses the offenders with her concerns, she always reacts in a  negative way that they must surely notice. She has compassion for a homeless person in that state, but not for someone who just does not seem to care how gross their feet appear to others. She wonders why they don’t just cover them with socks or closed toed footwear.

Someone else that I know can’t stand to hear people chew. Unless she is also eating and the sound of others enjoying a bite is muffled, she literally has to leave the room. To her obnoxious chewing is akin to running fingernails across a blackboard. She claims to feel physically ill when the slurping and chomping and movement of tongues is too loud.

I’ve thought and thought about what my own pet peeve might be, but I suppose that I am mostly immune to feeling discomfort from other folks’ behaviors. Perhaps my many years of working in schools has made me more accepting of others’ annoying habits. I doubt I would have lasted very long in my profession if I had been even marginally upset by some pet peeve or another. I learned the importance of mostly being chill with my students and their parents. I tended more toward attempting to understand why they had various bad habits, rather than becoming irritated by them. 

If I had to dig deeply to actually identify at least one pet peeve it would be that there is still far too much ignorance in this world in spite of the vast amount of knowledge that is available for the taking. I do not mind that someone does not have a raft of degrees, but I worry that far too many of us are simply taking shortcuts when it comes to accepting or rejecting information. We base too many of our important decisions on hearsay or hunches. We listen to television personalities rather than doing the hard work of researching topics and ideas to learn about what is real and what is a hoax. Whenever I hear sound bites being repeated as reasons for accepting certain philosophies, my reaction is to grit my teeth and worry that our general laziness in seeking truth will be our societal downfall. 

I suppose that my life as a teacher has been dedicated to encouraging young people to learn how to think. I hark back to my own school days and remember the warnings of the best of my teachers to always dig for the facts and truths rather than falling prey to propaganda or lies. I took their words to heart and so my life has been focused on an effort to learn more and more about everything before making decisions or following a particular path. I don’t mind having my beliefs challenged, but I would be remiss if I did not then do some study to determine what is real. I don’t understand why this is not a generally held way of living. 

I won’t even call a plumber unless I know something about him. The few times I’ve had to blindly go with a repair person it has turned out badly. It’s easy enough to learn about a company’s certifications, business ratings and to see examples of their work. While public opinion is certainly one aspect of making a judgement, I would never go to a doctor based solely on what others have said about him/her. I want to know where the physicians went to college, where they have hospital privileges, what their peers think about them, whether or not there are any lawsuits against them. 

We have to make decisions day in and day out. Sometimes the ones we face will have a long term impact on our lives. Arming ourselves with information helps us to weigh pro and cons in a rational way. Our emotions often come in handy by providing us with a sixth sense about something but we have to look at the facts as well. For that we should be using all of our senses and a raft of research. If we all did this I suspect that we would be able to come to more sensible conclusions for solving the problems of the world instead of bickering.


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