No good ever comes from a conversation that starts, “I don’t mean this as criticism, but…”
That introductory clause should be eliminated from the English language and the people who use it should be silenced. The same goes for “Please don’t take this the wrong way,” and “I know it’s not my place …”
Those insincere opening statements irk me more than the actual criticisms that generally follow them. Of course you mean to criticize.
Of course you feel it’s your place to impart your unsolicited opinion, otherwise you wouldn’t be speaking.
It just bugs me. Actually, lots of things bug me.
• People who make no attempt to quiet their yippie little dogs. I understand that dogs bark when new people knock on a door or enter a home. I understand that dogs bark at birds, other dogs or a menacing vacuum cleaner. But I don’t understand why little dogs just stand in front of you and bark incessantly.
More importantly, I don’t understand why the owners of such animals find it completely acceptable.
• People with a Ph.D. who insist on being called “doctor.” Now before anyone jumps down my throat, I am in no way minimizing the effort required for a doctoral degree and I do have the utmost respect for anyone who achieves the highest level of education in a chosen field. But someone with a Ph.D. in, say, early childhood education, isn’t going to be the one rushing to help when someone asks, “Is there a doctor in the house?”
It’s one thing to include the letters Ph.D. at the end of one’s name, but it’s another matter entirely to correct someone who calls them Mr.
Pretentious rather than Dr. Pretentious. If you can’t write me a prescription, I can’t call you “Doctor.”
• Chefs who withhold salt and pepper from their restaurant tables because they assume their food is perfectly seasoned for every person in the world, and no one on Earth would even consider adding something as intrusive as salt to a potato.
• St. Cloud cops who blip their siren and flash their lights once just to proceed through a red light when they’re clearly in no hurry responding to a call.
• People who call your cellphone repeatedly when you don’t answer the first time. Stop it. There’s obviously a reason I couldn’t speak with you the first three times your name showed up on my phone screen. Annoying me with four calls in three minutes won’t make me any more eager to chat.
The list could go on and on.
I have to sign off for now because I’m writing this early on Tuesday morning… and as an editor, copy that comes in late is another thing on my list of annoyances.
Jeff Hage is the editor of the Princeton Union-Eagle and Mille Lacs County times. Reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.