by Madeline McEwen
2020 to now has been the longest decade, and endless fear and worries are constantly in my face. Futility rules our non-existent lives. Ever-increasing complexity and frenetic busyness results in absurd anomalies. So, today, I’m allowing myself to escape into my frustrations with a fun little exercise. I hope you’ll join me, it’s quite cathartic.
Let’s go over a fun little list of mildly annoying inconveniences to wish upon thine enemies.
Perforated paper that doesn’t perforate in the correct spot
A company owes you, the consumer, money. Eventually, sooner or later, the company sends a letter through the mail. The sheet of paper arrives with a perforation which separates their message informing you of the reason for their refund, from the check. The letter is usually machine-folded into thirds. However, the perforation is unlikely to match the crease line. Wise consumers hold the paper up to the light to detect where, exactly, the perforation falls to separate the check from its parent. Those consumers are in the minority. Most customers foolishly tear the paper along the crease, mistakenly believing they’re utilizing the perforation since that is the sole purpose of a perforation. In this manner, inevitably, the perforation fails to function. The check is damaged and triage is performed with tape or glue to repair the trauma. Result? Frustration—time wasted, blood pressure raised, all unnecessary if the user admits defeat in advance of the battle and employs scissors.
Things that say “easy-open” when they are absofuckenlutely NOT easy to open
I loathe anything labeled “easy-open” because it gives a false impression, and I let down my guard. For a few rash moments, I believe the hype. Here is a product I shall open with ease—leave those scissors in the drawer! For some demented reason, I willingly pay the additional few cents for the promise on the packaging: ham, cheese, cherries, and other snacks will provide instant gratification. That’s right, I fall for the false promise, bewitched and beguiled by the Pied Piper of marketing. Worse still, after the struggle and the failure to open, I succumb to scissors.
I might throw caution to the wind, abandon my diet, and limit myself to freeing only some of the contents, one serving size. However, the package is designed with no surplus material to fold over, clip, or secure. I expend more energy accessing the snacks than they provide me, in return, in calories.
And, while we’re on the subject of packaging –
Your family ruining your “good” scissors
Scissors are useless when battling the hard-shell-case of plastic surrounding any number of products today. But that doesn’t mean your family won’t still try to use them, getting tape stuck to the blades and rendering them useless.
Are the contents so valuable or so delicate to justify their suits of armor? No. The products have no unifying features, but the manufacturers have determined to make their “goods” very, very bad. After attacking the shell with everything from a box cutter to a machete, the consumer is left with a mangled mess, shards of razor-sharp plastic, shredded instructions, and a variety of abrasions, lacerations, and minor puncture wounds. I urge sellers to attach a minimum of three Bandaids to every product.
Overly complex remote controls
I am nostalgic for an on-off switch. A flotilla of remotes litters the TV console. The odds are against a correct choice. The smallest one, buttons worn smooth, devoid of color or other distinguishing marks, whispers its supremacy over its rivals. I should have photographed, printed, and stuck the picture on the wall as a reference when it birthed from its box three years ago. But I didn’t. I pay the price for my imprudent torpidity.
Password fuckery and other security snafus
Costly apps solve this problem. But the rest of humanity, tight-fisted and budget-conscience, languish in a swamp of notebooks, post-it notes, and dog-eared cheat-sheet-cards forever at the mercy of the ubiquitous and randomly-timed software updates; failure to comply ensures suffering a steady disintegration of your user interface.
Inability to find the starting edge of a roll of tape
This impossible chore is solved by donating all tape to someone else, anyone who does not reside in your home. Invest in a staple gun instead.
Why does it still exist?
Solution: Cut a generous, letter-sized hole in your garage door. Inside your garage, place the recycling bin, hereinafter referred to as “A,” beneath the hole. Engage the assistance of another device. Relocate your paper-shredder, exhibit “B,” adjacent to the recycling bin, A. Once a week, sift the contents of A for anything remotely important and or readable. Put aside for later perusal. Shred remaining paper and add to exhibit C—the compost container.
Three points of contentious housekeeping:
Firstly, strictly speaking, snoring is not a modern issue. Snoring has always been a universal irritation since our days in the caves. However, it is an ongoing annoyance in our contemporary world.
Secondly, snoring is a problem for the snoree, not the snorer. The snorer snoozes away oblivious to the vibration and deafening noise levels he or she or it emits. However, the snoree, the person lying next to the snorer, is the sufferer.
Thirdly this, like so many of the aforementioned issues, is unfixable. While there are coping strategies for the snooree, none are fruitful. Similarly, the fixes available to the snorer—type “snoring remedies” into any search engine— are legion, expensive, and unproven in their efficaciousness.
Those, above, are the tip of my iceberg. The other two-thirds, below the waterline, are on fire. Just like my patience.
About the Author
Madeline McEwen [she/her] has enjoyed publication in a variety of different outlets both online and in traditional print. Her fiction and non-fiction focuses primarily on disabilities [ableism] and humor.
She has numerous short stories and a few stand-alone novelettes. Her latest short story, Stepping On Snakes, appears in the Me Too Anthology edited by Elizabeth Zelvin published by Level Best Books, and Benevolent Dictatorship published in Low Down Dirty Vote Volume II edited by Mysti Berry.