I have a lot of pet peeves. Probably more than I should and definitely more than necessary. I can’t help it, though. While other people are able to avoid sweating the small stuff of life, I sometimes start perspiring at the tiniest of minutiae. It’s all part and parcel of my genetically inherited type-A personality. One of my biggest pet peeves is poor grammar, and there are a few phrases or incorrectly used words that drive me crazy. Now, I’m no saint myself when it comes to grammatical fluency. I’m not immune to using the incorrect form of a verb, occasional misspellings, or dangling participles, and I’m sure I’ve even committed some offenses in this very blog. I do try and make an effort not to regularly annihilate the English language, though. I learned more about grammar in my high school French class than I ever did in any of my English classes. In order to learn another language, you really have to understand your own first. So I owe a big debt of gratitude, or “Merci,” to my fantastic teacher Mrs. Hill for showing me the many errors of my ways. If everyone had had a teacher like her, no one would ever end a sentence with a preposition again.
While I try to keep myself in check grammatically, I also try not to be too anal retentive when it comes to other people. But there are a few particular things that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I hear them. One is misuse of the past tense of the verb “see,” as in, “I seen him at the movies last week.” Another is incorrectly using forms of the verb “go,” especially something like, “I should have went there when you seen him.” While I’m biting my tongue and gnashing my teeth together, sirens, alarms, flashing lights, and red flags are going off and popping up inside my mind as my brain tries to make my mouth say, “It’s SAW! You SAW him! And you should have GONE to the movies when she SAW him!” But 99% of the time I keep my mouth shut and prevent myself from being one of those rude biotches who corrects everything everyone else says. And most of the time I retain enough control to keep myself from shoving my fingers in my ears and blurting out “LA LA LA LA LA” so I don’t have to listen to the verbal massacre that’s occurring in front of me.
Something else that makes my list is the group of people I often refer to as “obliviots.” And yes, I’m fully aware that’s not really a word. But it should be. It’s my own mash-up of the words oblivious and idiots, and it can be used all too often. The definition of obliviots is: “n., plural form of obliviot. People who wander around public areas with no sense of direction and no regard to those around them, often stopping short in front of someone else or bumping into another person while gazing absent mindedly at something that has caught their attention.” I often see these people at the grocery store, the mall, or walking down the sidewalk, usually in groups and almost always strung out in a line long enough to completely block any oncoming traffic. There is no place on earth, however, that has a higher concentration of obliviots than Walt Disney World. They stop suddenly in the middle of Main Street, U.S.A., to open their park maps or put on their mouse ear hats, causing those people behind them to do a fancy sidestep to avoid a collision. They ram into the backs of your legs with the strollers they’re pushing in Epcot because they’re watching the cars at Test Track speeding by instead of watching where they’re going. They stare mindlessly at the wall in the line for Peter Pan, unmoving, as the gobs of people in front of them are boarding their ships to Neverland and those behind them roll their eyes and huff until said obliviot realizes he’s been standing still for 20 minutes. Now, I’m the first person to admit that there’s a ton of things to see and stare at in wonder in Disney World. Normal people step to the side and out of the way to do their ogling. Obliviots stop wherever they are, with no concept that anyone else is nearby, and cause traffic jams as they “ooooh” and “aaaah” at the magic that surrounds them. As annoyed as I get, I try to keep my lack of patience in check and give them a pass. It IS Disney World, after all. And trust me, I’d take a swarm of obliviots in the Magic Kingdom any day over no obliviots at all somewhere else.
Of all my pet peeves, though (and I do have more, but I’ll stop myself before I start sounding psychotic), the one that makes me absolutely, blindingly nuts is bad drivers. In my extremely short, approximately 10-minute commute to work every day, I come across more morons behind the wheel than I ever would in a five-hour trip on the interstate. Maybe there’s something in the water where I live and work, but I’ve come to the conclusion that 75% of the people in those areas should have their licenses revoked. The annoyances run the gamut from turning without using a blinker to driving ONE mile an hour in a 45 mph zone. What little patience I possess quickly vanishes when I get behind one of these geniuses who is texting, shaving, putting on makeup, or searching around their car for some mystery object they’ve seemingly lost, all while steering their cars with their knees. And they’re easy to spot. They aren’t weaving back and forth like a drunk, but they are ever so slightly vacillating from left to right while sporadically accelerating and then slowing down for no reason whatsoever.
I don’t really cuss too often or throw curse words around willy nilly, but when I come across these people on the road, who coincidentally are usually obliviots, I quickly turn into George Carlin, sputtering at least four of the seven dirtiest words you aren’t supposed to say. In turn, I probably end up looking like the complete maniac, shouting and sometimes flailing my arms, that someone surely goes home and talks about to their family. “You wouldn’t believe this chick I saw on State Street today yelling curse words and shaking her fist at some dude who pulled out in front of her and went NO miles an hour. She was nuts!” So yes, I suppose I have a tiny bit of road rage in me and I probably should keep it under wraps more. It just might be time to take that yoga class a family member has been bugging me to join for years. My list of pet peeves might disappear because I’ll be so relaxed that I’ll be the obliviot behind the wheel throwing all the traffic laws out the window, gazing at all the pretty things passing by, and saying to my passengers, “Guess what I just seen!”