Regardless of your definition, the world got worse in many ways this past year. While many large problems seem out of our control to fix or influence, there are several things we can all do to make me feel better. Yes, me. In this season of giving, what have you done for me? If you’re still looking for my belated present, there are still a few items from my gift registry that weren’t in my stocking this year.
Stop Pouring Salt In My Wound
I can’t be the only person who likes caramel – that magical concoction of sugar and milk. Making caramel from scratch is less simple than you’d imagine but with a reward unimaginably tasty. So why has the world gone mad tossing salt into the mix? Stop it. Caramel doesn’t need the help.
I get the whole salty/sweet thing, but not in caramel. Feel free to dip pretzels, chips, or blocks of salt in chocolate, but leave caramel the hell alone.
Why Does Everything Stink?
Seriously, why isn’t odorless just fine? I get up to mint toothpaste, mint floss, scented shampoo and conditioner, scented soap, scented hair gel, and scented pit stick. Each one different and competing – and all in the first 20 minutes of each day. It’s so bad that the same brand of shampoo and conditioner have different stinks. Why do I need “stink, rinse; repeat” so early in the morning?
Trying to find products that don’t smell is no mean feat. My newest nasal indignity is the newly awful-smelling Kiehl’s hair gel (Cedarwood, Sandalwood, and Eucalyptus).
The only things in my bathroom that don’t smell are toilet paper (before use), Band-Aids, contact lenses, and my razor. I’m not allergic to the stinkery, I’m just sick of companies wanting to attach a scent to a product to make it more memorable – because that’s what it’s about, engaging more senses makes things literally more remember-able so you will buy more.
Note to stoners: I’m fine with legal weed, but please only the edibles (kill high and munchies with one brownie). Not only will countless noses thank you, but you’ll be doing your lungs (and our ever crappining healthcare system) a favor.
Things That Can’t Be Repaired
From mobile phones to televisions and even farm machinery, products we paid for are not ours. In recent years, business has decided that they want to charge higher prices for authorized repairs. To do that, unauthorized repairs became against the terms of service we all click on. In prior generations there was a whole cottage industry of repair shops where people could make a living. No more, those jobs are now poorly-paid and controlled by the manufacturer. Apple is king of the crop.
Apple Software Updates
Apple’s iOS 12.1 update resulted in an error that required a trip to the Stepford Genius Bar and the ultimate erasure of the phone’s data and reloading of the software. My Genius seemed offended that I was peeved about returning to Apple because their software can’t load properly. And it’s not like this was the first time. My last iPad had at least 6 reinstalls in 18 months after bad updates (reinstalls that were never cataloged, so when it finally died, they had no record of this being a long-term problem). Friends coo about Apple’s great service – I’ve never experienced it.
Like most religious institutions, Apple staff are completely untrained in how to handle unsatisfied customers. To me, Apple is as deserving of my devotion as my washing machine or can opener – and given the amount of crashes, not even that. When I looked my “Genius” in the eye and said I couldn’t recall my Windows PC ever requiring a complete reloading of software in 20 years – and certainly not one that erased my entire hard drive – I got the blank stare of inexperienced, untrained youth.
Much like British automobiles, I now keep two phones so at least one works on any given day.
Commercials on Airplanes
How sad and tacky. Airlines are following movie theaters in taking our cash then subjecting us to commercials for our trouble. On American Airlines, cabin crew read a script to entice flyers into signing up for their branded credit card as one walks the aisle with a fistful of applications. I’ve never seen anyone take one. On United Airlines, before the in-flight movies and TV are available, commercials play while you’re strapped-in, unable to escape.
Another reason to bring a tablet and watch your own shows. Hopefully it doesn’t break, as there’s no Apple store at 35,000 feet – yet.
Who are these people who get to the top of an escalator and stop and why are they always in front of me? Do they fail to realize the electric staircase that took them to the top didn’t stop along with them? Sheesh!
Movie Theater Manners
A close relative to those who stop at the top of an escalator are those who sit directly in front of you in a largely empty theater. When a pair of them sat directly in front of me in a theater containing eight people, I immediately got up and moved over – and they got huffy.
Just like you don’t stand next to a guy at a urinal unless there’s no choice (unsure of the lady analogue), it’s rude to sit directly in front of someone in the movies if there are a hundred other options. Right?
Soaking in the Rain
I know I lost most of you with “walk” but hear me out. It’s no secret I walk a lot and sometimes, in unpredictable weather, I get stuck in the rain. When water begins to pool on Dallas’ poorly draining streets, it’s courtesy not to drive through the gaping puddle and splash the person on the sidewalk.
Personal observations tell me most of us understand this, but what is it about Range Rovers? If I’m going to get splashed, it’s overwhelmingly by a Range Rover.
Speaking of walking, why do drivers behind tinted windows not understand that I can’t see them waving for me to cross the street? Didn’t they get tinted windows to obscure the view from outside? Do they also seek comments on their eye color with sunglasses on?
If you’re going to wave at a walker to cross the street, roll down the window. And if the walker waves you on (as I do) – go – don’t get in a “no, you go” courtesy war.
Walgreens Copying Facebook and Amazon
Unless you’re an idiot, you understand that Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple took their business model from The Police song Every Breath You Take which opens with …
Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you
Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you
Personal data is the profit margin. Walgreens has weaponized their loyalty card by placing a vast majority of items in a given category on sale simultaneously. In the picture above, nearly all vitamins are on a loyalty card-driven sale. By placing a category on sale, Walgreens tracks what and when you buy. Two or three purchases and Walgreens knows how long between purchases. By getting customers on a rhythm, they can be sure to have sales running at the appropriate time to keep customers coming back and – more importantly – not moving their purchase elsewhere. It’s a terrestrial version of Amazon. Herding customers to timed sales also increases the likelihood of ancillary purchases which adds to its purchase timing algorithms.
It’s difficult to escape this trap. The best you can do is get a card with made-up information and always pay with cash. You can get the deal without being harvested.
Welcome to 2019. Now – tick-tock – get busy. The shorter days of winter mean you’ve got less daylight to burn fixing this stuff for me.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email email@example.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.