Sweatin’ the Small Stuff

Whoever said “Don’t sweat the small stuff” wouldn’t have convinced Andy Rooney, the “60 Minutes” icon, who made a long (some may argue too long) and lucrative career out of it.

No matter how irritating his whiny voice and mannerisms had become, his Sunday night ruminations on everyday nuisances had us nodding in agreement, whether we wanted to or not.

While the rest of us were worried about taxes, health care, and mortgages, Rooney figured we were more vexed by the wad of cotton stuck in pill bottles. “I don’t know anything offhand that mystifies Americans more than the cotton they put in pill bottles. Why do they do it? Are you supposed to put the cotton back in once you’ve taken a pill out?”

Let’s face it, hasn’t this baffled you at some time or another? Forget about record unemployment and the debt ceiling, do you really have to put the cotton back in? All this for one lousy aspirin? The one aspirin that promised to relieve the pain in your neck for 24 hours, but doesn’t even work for one? I have to put the cotton wad back in the bottle for that crappy, no-working aspirin, that probably has an inflated price because of the stupid cotton stuck in there?

When I heard the sad news of his passing last year, I realized someone needed to fill his shoes and thought, why not me? It’s a great job, with great pay (easily six figures) and benefits and isn’t particularly demanding. Plus, I’d be able to vent all of my little peeves every week, which would probably relieve my stress and save me from having high blood pressure and a stroke.

No wonder Rooney was going strong into his ’90s. After getting us all piqued about some insignificant bother that never bothered us before, he’d probably just look out the window in his cluttered office and doze off.

The job description would probably go something like this:
Curmudgeonly codger needed
Looking for easily peeved whiner who can write short (but deceptively long-winded) weekly column about the nuisances they encounter in their daily lives. Whiny voice preferred, but not required. We are an equal opportunity employer.

I’d be the ideal candidate with a twist. Instead of an old, curmudgeonly white male, I would be the old, curmudgeonly black female. Just what we need for the 21st century. First a black president and now a black Andy Rooney, and a female to boot.

As for the job requirement (note: there’s no mention of journalism here) all I’d have to come up with is one thing to gripe about per week. That’s it? Piece of cake. As far as the Journalism background–who needs it? Journalism took it’s last gasp when TIME magazine named Snooki one of the 80th most influential people in the world.

As far as the writing and the short attention span of most Americans, probably a short paragraph would do. I would only have to make it seem long-winded. To do that I would just start the paragraph with something like, “When I was growing up in the sixties…” or “My 85-year-old aunt from Buffalo always said…” and then go into how those little plastic tabs on cream containers always break off and the only way to pry out the little hole is with a sharp knife that isn’t as sharp as the package claimed. Honestly, how long can one go on about how the packaging the knife came in needs the sharp knife inside to open it, but the knife’s so dull you end up going out to get the more expensive one with even more impossible to open packaging. Then when you finally do get it out to open the little hole in the cream container, it’s so sharp it splits the carton open and you’ve got a big mess to clean up with the paper towels that claim to wipe up oil spills, but you use the whole roll to clean it up. I mean really, how long can you read about that?

I can easily find something prickly to whine about on any given day. Sometimes the small stuff can rankle me more than finding out my Comcast bill has inexplicably gone up, or that the “small repair” on my car is now $200 over the estimate. I’ve come to expect these “unexpected expenses” along with sub-par if not downright rude customer service.

But back to the small stuff. Why does the iPad come with a “screen protector” that is impossible to put on without getting a zillion bubbles in it? Why do they tell you to make sure the screen and protector are dust free, when by the time you’re finished fumbling around with it, it has more dust and smudges than ever? Why doesn’t it just come with it on? And when we need to replace the one that came with the iPad, why does it cost another $25-50 when the first one was “free”. Is a flimsy film of plastic really that pricey? And if it is, why doesn’t it work? What are those little white tabs for that we’re not supposed to pull off until the very end? Do they really do anything other than become something the cat eats that she hacks up two days later?

I’m just getting started, haven’t even broke a sweat and I’m finished! Article #1 complete–check. I could even start on next week’s article, but why rush it? Time for a nap.

To end with Andy’s words:
“…Everything you buy today is smaller, more expensive, and not as good as it was yesterday.” — from an essay on coffee cans, Oct. 23, 1988

I guess the same thing could be said for his replacement. That could be grist for next week’s article. Why do companies force us to replace things before they get really worn out? Why are there so many updates to the Flash player? Can’t they ever get it right…?


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