...You know, it isn't that often that I feel the need to complain in this column, but as I sit here in front of my computer trying to write I am admittedly distracted by a number of things that have annoyed me recently.
This recent bout of irritability actually started this past weekend, when I was traveling home with my son and – thanks to Mother Nature's angry bout of rain, freezing rain and ice – my road was flooded out and I was forced to take a detour home by driving on untouched single-lane roadways that were covered with ice.
This ordeal was so nerve-wracking and aggravating that it put me in a crabby mood that still lingers to this moment. So, in addition to discovering some annoyances from my terrible adventure in the bad winter weather I have also recently encountered some other things in my everyday life that have really stuck in my craw.
n When bad winter weather hits, why are there suddenly so many horrible drivers? Why is it that when a few snowflakes fall there are so many drivers that turn into inexperienced 16-year-olds who are just getting their permit? I don't know what's worse: The drivers who drive four miles an hour when the roads are wet, the goobers who slam on their brakes when they start to slide and nearly cause a 30-car pileup, or the maniacs in the trucks and SUV's who whizz by everyone else in the passing lane and create more problems?
It seems like every time there is bad weather of any kind, we have to deal with drivers who have suddenly been lobotomized behind the wheel. (And seriously, drivers: When the roads are bad, turn down the radio, stop eating or applying makeup, get off the stupid cell phone and PAY ATTENTION. And if the conditions are so bad that you can't see two feet in front of you, then turn on your flashers. It ain't rocket science.)
n And while we're talking about driving, why can't all vehicles be built so that they are equally efficient in all kinds of weather? I just don't understand how we can put a million air bags in cars and offer all kinds of impressive safety features, yet many cars are just horrible to drive in awful weather. I know, I know … People need to be better drivers. But still: Front-wheel, rear-wheel, all-wheel, blah blah blah – why can't all cars just be, you know, built to be able to perfectly handle any and all weather conditions?
n And why is it that you can have AAA protection all year long and never need it, only to find yourself in need of service just one day after you accidentally let your coverage expire?
n And isn't it wonderful when you forget to put your windshield scraper in your car on the day that you need it the most?
n I really believe that the meteorologists on those TV stations should have their home or cell phone numbers flashing at the bottom of the screen during their weather reports, so we can give 'em a call and let them know how we feel about them when they get their prognostications wrong.
n Speaking of snow storms, why does everybody and their grandmother feel the urgent need to rush out to the grocery store and stock up on bread, milk, eggs and toilet paper when there's talk of snow? Do people only need these items when they hear the weather is going to be bad? What are they planning on doing during a storm, eating French toast while sitting on the toilet?
n And speaking of stores, what is the deal with hyping a holiday that is months away? Last September, I saw Christmas trees in some stores. Before New Years, I saw Valentine's Day items. Last week, I saw Easter displays. Can we at least wait to thaw out from winter before we start seeing July 4 fireworks for sale?
n Why hasn't Greene County STILL seen any new commercial development on top of Wal-Mart hill? Seems to me that there is plenty of land up there for more stores and maybe even a few decent restaurants. Our Wal-Mart has been open for MANY years now, and yet nothing else has ever been built on that property. Drive to any other Wal-Mart within an hour radius from here, and you'll see a multitude of businesses surrounding it, such as Lowe's, Home Depot, Sam's Club, Applebees, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Cracker Barrel, etc. Why is Greene County still a rare exception to all of the development that is found everywhere else where there's a Wal-Mart?
n In this age of technology, where we can watch movies on our phones and stream hundreds of thousands of films and TV shows on our high-def televisions at very low costs, why do movie theaters still insist on charging outrageous prices for tickets and concessions? Recently my wife and I went to a 90-minute movie and we shelled out over 40 bucks for two tickets, popcorn and drinks. Oh, and we had to deal with loud and obnoxious patrons, people talking on their cell phones and a theater that had the air conditioner on full blast in the middle of winter. I have had a life-long love affair with the movies, but after my recent experience, I think the romance is over.
n And perhaps the most mind-boggling aggravation of all: Why is it every time when my wife and I get a babysitter so we can have a nice dinner or go see a movie, our son seems to come down with a real, serious illness? I can't tell you how many times we've planned an evening as a couple, only for Bryson to come down with something awful, such as strep throat, a fever or vomiting spells. It's almost as if the little guy will do anything to make sure we stay home.
Okay, okay. I guess that is enough complaining for now. I feel better now that I have that out of my system. Truthfully, there are plenty of things to be positive about … for example, I just looked at the calendar and realized that spring is just a little over a month away! Soon we will be thawing out from the winter doldrums and the weather will be better. And with that, there will be plenty of events and activities that will be happening in Greene County.
As far as this winter season goes, I better wrap this column up because I have to find and clean my shotgun. Since ol' Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow earlier this month, I'm now heading off for a lil' groundhog hunting...