thursday...16 march...2000

Here are things that are annoying me today.

1. People who slow down to a crawl on a highway on-ramp and then have to stop because they don't have enough room to join the traffic already going 80 miles an hour.

Honestly, people, even though it's rush hour, you need to be a little bit brave and trust that the nice people on the highway will get in the passing lane and let you on. If you have to stop at the top of the on-ramp because you were too chicken to merge, you aren't going to be able to get on the highway for at least an hour. Then people like me are going to have to shoot around you into the left-hand lane to avoid sitting there with you. As my friend's father says, drive it or sell it.

2. People who use cell phones while they are driving.

I have a new political cause. I know there are bills in legislatures all around these United States restricting the use of cell phones while you're operating a car, and I'm all for it. And I'll tell you why.

You drive like an idiot when you're on the phone. Yes, YOU.

I know you don't think you do. But that's because you're too focused on your conversation to notice. Trust me, you're either going 10 miles an hour, or you're coasting into my lane, or you're going through red lights, or probably all three.

And I don't think the hands-free option does any good at all. We can all drive with one hand. The problem is your concentration, not the fact that you only have one hand on the wheel. (Hell, I've been known to drive with my knees, and I've never caused an accident.) (Well, that way. I rear-ended someone once when I was 16, but that's it, I swear.)

In my opinion, there are two instances, and only two, when you should be permitted to use the phone while driving:

-- You are stuck in traffic, and I mean at a dead stop, and you need to call whoever you're on your way to meet to tell them you'll be late.

-- You are being tailgated by a homicidal maniac and need to call 911 so someone with a gun can intervene on your behalf.

That's it. Otherwise, pull the hell over, because I might run into you on purpose, and you won't be able to prove it's my fault because you were too busy talking.

3. The fact that social norms dictate the we are unable to proclaim, wear a sign, or otherwise cordially and unoffensively indicate to those around us that we don't really want to talk to them.

I woke up with a headache this morning. That always puts me in a very bad mood. I did not have enough time to get done what I needed to get done today, so I had to skip a class, which normally doesn't bother me but today it did, because I've been skipping a little too much. I had some reading to do for my 10:00 class, my first one of the day, and I had left the cases in my boss's office at school, so I wandered over at about 9:15 to finish them.

Judy's office is connected to another librarian's, who normally does bother me but fortunately he wasn't there. His office is connected to yet another librarian's, a poor sap I'll call Bob.

See, Bob is a poor sap because he very well could be the most socially avoidant person on the planet. He's not rude or anything, just extremely, extremely shy, to the point where he has a hard time looking at you while he's talking to you. Usually he actually closes his eyes, or sometimes just looks away. Casual conversation seems to be very difficult for him. He never just stands around and shoots the shit.

Except with me. I hear the other librarians rag on him all the time (which really pisses me off, that 40-year-old people can be so cruel), so I have always tried to go out of my way to be nice to him and engage him in conversation. I think he talks to me more than anyone else in the entire school.

But this morning, I didn't want to talk to him or anyone else. I had a headache, I was annoyed at having to read these cases, I was cranky about all the errands I had to run, and I just wanted to be left alone.

But there's Bob. "Hey, we finished picking out the tile for the bathroom in the new house." Great. I don't care.

(That's the one thing that makes me feel better, that Bob has a family. His wife is very nice and he has two young daughters who are just darling.)

But anyway, I sat there talking to him thinking, Why can't we live in a society where it's okay to say to someone, "I'm sorry, please don't talk to me right now." Or I'd be happy with a little button, some sort of accessory that indicates to anyone who approaches that I'm in a growly mood and it would be better to keep your distance.

But I lived right through the rest of the day, and after my last class was over at 5:00 I went to the bookstore to look at all the lovely books that I can't read. I did get the new fab and glam Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair, so that made me happy. I also talked to my parents tonight and assigned my father the task of coordinating my move, which also made me happy. One less thing for me to stress over.

And be annoyed about.

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