Tuesday, May 27, 2008

#20: Gas Pump Interrogations

It's bad enough that I have to pay an ungodly amount for a gallon of gas these days, but do I really have to be interrogated too?

Here's what I'm talking about:

I'm on my way to a meeting the other day, when I notice that my gas gauge is reading below "E." In a Jeep Wrangler, that means "get gas now!" I don't want to be late for my meeting, but I have to stop. So I pull into the gas station, hop out and quickly insert my card into the designated slot. I pull it out quickly because the digital display screen tells me I'm supposed to. What? If I leave it in there longer, what happens?

You'd think now, at this point, I could just lift the nozzle and put gas into my car. Oh no! Now I have to now answer a series of questions:

QUESTION #1: Credit or debit? What? We still don't have computers that can tell the difference? Seriously. Isn't there something in the code for the card that tells the machine whether it's a debit or credit card? Mine is a debit card, but I push "credit" anyway, just to confuse the genius computer.

QUESTION #2: What is your zip code? What the hell do you care? So you can tell investors that people are traveling 20 miles just to buy your gas? Well guess what? I'm buying your gas because it happens to be the closest station to where I'm at when I need gas. Why the hell would I travel farther, burning up gas, just to buy more? You don't need to know where I live, for crying out loud! Reluctantly, I enter my zip code.

QUESTION #3: Would you like a car wash today? How about this, wise-ass...how about if I want a car wash...I'LL TELL YOU! Can I just have some gas already? I press "no." But now there's a little more pressure on the button because I'm just about pissed. All I want is some frickin' gas!

QUESTION #4: Would you like a receipt? Aaaaaaarrrrgggghhhh!!! Would you like a swift kick in the...?" Yeah, I'm yelling at a machine at this point. "JUST GIVE ME MY GAS!"

Let's be honest: I understand the importance of market research. But asking me my zip code isn't going to tell you why I'm buying your gas. It's just going to tell you which part of what city I live in. How does that help you at all? And why make the consumer jump through all these hoops. I want to stick my credit card in the slot, lift the nozzle and pour gas. That's it. If I want a car wash, I'll tell you. If I want a receipt, I'll tell you. Quit interrogating me everytime I have to stop and buy gas. It's a painful enough experience now, knowing that I'm paying twice as much as I should, so oil companies can boast record profits. Just let me fill my tank in peace.

Gas Pump Interrogations: You Suck.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Ordinarily, I would put these kinds of things on my Things That Suck list, but since Monique has been such a good sport on my blog, I will oblige.

1) What was I doing 10 years ago? Well, believe it or not, 10 years ago I was actually a television news anchor. I co-hosted a two-hour morning program on the ABC affiliate in Colorado Springs, CO. Talk about things that suck: I woke up every morning at 1 o'clock...had to be at work by 2:00am. The show went on at 7:00 and lasted til 9:00. Then I would work on stories/special reports/series...whatever...for the rest of the day. Usually, I'd get home around 2pm. Long days. Short pay. But I actually enjoyed the job--for the most part.

2) 5 things on my to do list for today. Well, today I'm hosting an event in Old Colorado City. It's a Wild West Shootout. Yep. I'm really not much of a "cowboy" though I grew up in south Texas. But I've been hosting this event for six years now...and it's a blast. People travel from all over the country to take part in the Quick Draw competition. They use real guns...with blanks. The blanks are strong enough to burst a balloon at six feet away, so the shooters square off and everything's set to a timer. When the light goes on, they draw and shoot. A digital timer tells who popped their balloon first. Seriously, I've seen shooters pop their balloon in .65 seconds. Amazing these guys. So...that's one thing. The other things on my list are to spend time with my 14-month old son. I've got to put some edging in my backyard. And I might do some grilling too. Mmmmm. Mmmmm.

3) Snacks I enjoy. Anything unhealthy! Ha! My favorite food in the world is french fries. I also like potato chips...nachos and popcorn. I'm not much of a fruit eater. Though I do like an occasional pear, apple or banana. Oh...and I'm addicted to dark chocolate. 70% cocoa is the best!

4) Things I would do if I were a Billionaire. Pay off debt. We've been actually really good about cutting down our debt over the past five years. One credit card left to go. Would be nice to be out from under it! Then, I'd buy our dream home in the mountains in Colorado. Nothing ridiculous...just a good sized log home with a scenic view...and a stream so I could go fly fishing anytime I want. I already travel the world a lot, but there are some places I've never been that I'd like to visit: Ireland, Australia and Egypt.

5) Places I have lived.Three Rivers, TX. Pettus, TX. Brownwood, TX. Redlands, CA. Waco, TX. Chattanooga, TN. Colorado Springs, CO.

6) Blogger's I want to know about. Hmmm...I haven't really met that many bloggers yet. Monique would've been on my list, but since she's the one who passed this around, I can't send it back to her. So I'd have to choose jamjarsuperstar...who has posted comments on several of my blogs.

Friday, May 23, 2008

#19: Banner Ads on TV

So I'm watching one of my favorite TV shows the other night, when all of the sudden this image of a ball of fire bursts into the bottom right corner. Then, through the fire comes barrelling a sports car, spinning out and cutting donuts across the bottom third of the screen.

"What the...?"

Then up pops the text telling me that this is a promo for some movie that's coming up next. Are you kidding me? I already have to deal with commercial breaks when I watch my program, but now I have to deal with commercials IN the program? C'mon! These things are terribly distracting. By the time the stupid explosions and spinouts were done, I realized I missed what the actors were saying.

"What? What did I miss? What did he say?" UGH!

Let's be honest: I know advertising is how the networks make their money. And it's only a matter of time before we see these banner ads promoting products and not just other programs. Imagine, you're watching the season finale of LOST, when all of the sudden jungle leaves show up on the bottom of the screen...and they start to spread apart to show the new 4-door Jeep Wrangler tearing it up across the grassy hillsides. The text reads: "Jack could get across the island a lot quicker with a new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited" Starting at $21,600. As shown: $31,250. Ha! (Maybe I should go into advertising, no?)
Seriously...Commercial breaks are already ridiculously long. We don't need the added distractions to our shows. Take 'em away!

Banner Ads on TV: You Suck.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

#18: Drive-Thru Tip Jars

This "Thing That Sucks" is brought to you by Monique. Thanks for the idea, Monique! It just so happens I have a story to go with this idea:

So this past Saturday I was at Sonic. I pull up to the drive-thru...there's one car in front of me. That person places their order and drives up to the window. So, I inch up to the speaker.



"Hello?" I ask. Not rudely...just wondering if they know I'm here.

"Hold just a minute please sir." This young boy's voice says.

So I hold. And I hold. And I hold. Three minutes go by. The car in front of me has now left with it's order. There are now four cars behind me. And I still haven't placed my order yet.

"Hello?" I ask again. Perhaps not as politely as the time before.

After a few seconds pause. "Just one more minute please sir."

I look around. It's not like the restaurant is packed. There are maybe four other cars in all of the stalls. By now, the lady behind me is trying to find a way to get out of the line. She's tired of waiting.

Finally, the voice comes back.

"How can I help you today?" (Hmmm...what a loaded question. You could start by not making me wait 5 minutes to place my order you little *&^%$#!) But I refrain.

"Two Ocean Water Slushes please."

"I'm sorry. Our slush machine isn't working today."


"Okay, then two large Ocean Waters please."

"Please pull up to the window." I do and there's the kid who looks no more than 14 years old. I don't know if it's his first day on the job or what, but he's struggling just to figure out how to fill two cups with ice, Sprite and coconut flavoring. Meanwhile, there's three other workers inside. Guess what they're doing? Eating. That's right. It's lunch break for the Sonic crew while Einstein here tries to manage the window by himself.

As I get ready to leave, I notice a tip jar sitting outside the window. You're kidding, right?

Here's your tip: Quit your dayjob.

Let's be honest: It's difficult enough to get a teenage boy to think about anyone other than himself and girls. But it's not like these are the most difficult jobs in the world either. You take the order, you fill the order. You take the money, you make change. And now, I'm supposed to tip you too? Whatever!

Drive-Thru Tip Jars: You Suck.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

#17: Being Ugly

I'll admit it. I'm ugly. Not hideous or anything.
Terribly plain perhaps. If I were a dog, my master would
shave my butt and make me walk backwards. (Okay, it's an old adage, but you get the picture.)

It's taken a lot of time, but I'm learning to come to grips with being ugly. It's not easy...especially in a world that treats pretty people so differently. And I have a problem with that. I mean, it's not like they did anything to be beautiful. Either you're born with it...or you're not. Sure, you can get your teeth straightened and whitened...you can get $400 haircuts that "accentuate your features", wear designer fashions, but all of that is worthless if you've got nothing to work with. And don't tell me that plastic surgery can make you beautiful. It can't. Perhaps it can improve on some things, but man is not capable of making an ugly woman beautiful with nothing more than a knife, a laser or some injections.

And let me add, I almost NEVER use the word "beautiful" to describe a person's looks anyway. Simply because I think someone has to be pretty remarkable to be considered "beautiful." Probably less than one half of 1% of the world is "beautiful"...in my humble opinion.

So why then do we treat the beautiful people so differently? If 99.5% of us are not beautiful, why don't we consider the "beautiful people" the oddballs? I say, "Ugly people unite!" It's time we took control of the magazine covers, TV shows and billboards! It's time ugly became the new "beautiful!" Ha!

Let's be honest: Yeah, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It used to be that the standard for beauty was different, depending on where you are in the world. But more and more, the world has adopted the "western" idea of beauty. If you're beautiful in Sri Lanka, you're beautiful in Iowa, etc. But it's silly that we, as a culture, give privileges to the beautiful that the vast majority of the world doesn't have access to. And it's a shame that we ugly people are denied certain privileges, even courtesies, just because we've got "bad genes." C'mon. How shallow is that?

Being ugly: You Suck.

Monday, May 12, 2008

#16: Bad Drivers

As I've said in an earlier post, I rarely like driving. Partly because of road construction, stop lights and speed traps. But mostly it's because there are a lot of idiots out there. Bad drivers suck.

There are all kinds of bad drivers. Here's a list of some of my biggest peeves that people do when they get behind the wheel:

  • Drive slow in the fast lane. If another driver has to pass you on the right, you're holding up traffic. Move over already.

  • Riding your brakes through a green light..."just in case it turns yellow." Ugh. This pisses me off to no end. But so many people do it. I will never understand it. If the light's green...GO!

  • Not paying attention when you're at a stoplight. Listen, if you are the first car in line, it's your responsibility to watch the light. I shouldn't have to honk my horn to tell you that it's green.

  • Shaving or putting on your makeup while driving. Seriously? Listen, spend 5 more minutes at home and get your makeup and shaving done. And trust me, the lighting in your car is nowhere as good as it is in your bathroom mirror. When you put your makeup on in your car--it shows. And not in a good way.

  • Trying to talk on your cell phone while driving. Most people don't realize this, but the second they pick up their cell phone, their foot goes on the brake. People slow down or even ride their brakes while talking on the phone. Trust me...you can't do it. You're not a good enough driver. Stop trying to talk on the phone.
  • And even worse, texting and driving. This should be illegal. My wife was just involved in a car wreck last week, when a girl rear-ended her because she was texting and not paying attention to the traffic in front of her.

  • Tailgating. (Now, first let me say that if I'm holding you up in the fast lane, then maybe I deserve to be tailgated. But if I'm in the slow lane, minding my own business...get off my ass!) The right lane is for people who want to drive slower. You should know that. You have no right to harass them. But if you're going to tailgate, be prepared to eventually meet someone's bumper. And it is ALWAYS your fault when you rear-end someone.
  • Riding with your dog (or cat) in your lap. Are you kidding me? What...there aren't enough distractions on the road that you need to worry about whether Fido is going to try to lick you in the face while you're doing 70mph? Get your *&^%$# mutt in the back seat already! Or better yet, leave pets at home.

  • Staying in my blind spot. Either pass me...or drop farther back so I can see you in my side mirror. But riding along side my back tire is unsafe for both of us.
  • Talking and driving. Not everyone is bad at this, but some are. My wife is a good example. She can't talk to you without wanting to use hand gestures and make eye contact. So, the second she starts talking, the foot lets up off the gas. If it's a long sentence, we're coasting!
Let's be honest: We're all bad drivers to some extent. Something you do in the car is likely to annoy the hell out of me. And something I do is surely going to drive you crazy. So, as far as that's concerned, I guess we all suck. But these are some basic things that we can all be better about. Driving can be dangerous. Why add any more tension to it?

Bad Drivers: You Suck.

Friday, May 2, 2008

#15: Global Poverty

I took this picture outside of Kisumu, Kenya in August of 2007. It was made of mud and sticks. Scraps of tin were used for the roof. A single mother lived in this home with her four kids.

The entire home was 14 x 10. Four children and one adult living in a 140 square foot home. A couple of sheets were used to create a "wall" to separate the bedroom from the rest of the house.

As I visited with this family, the mother offered me a cup of hot tea. It must've been 100 degrees that day. But they love their hot tea in Kenya! It's probably best too...because the water is so unsafe that they have to boil it to make it drinkable.
As the mother poured me a cup of hot tea, she poured four more smaller cups. One for each child. She reached into a bag of sliced bread and handed out one piece of bread to each child. That was dinner for the family. One slice of bread...one cup of hot tea.

Global poverty sucks. And we in America need to think about what we can do to change that. Why us? Well, maybe it's because:
  • In America, we consume 24% of the world's energy. But we only make up 5% of the world's population.
  • Americans eat 815 billion calories of food each day. That's roughly 200 billion more than needed. Those extra 200 billion calories are enough to feed another 80 million people.
  • Americans toss out 200,000 tons of edible food every single day.
  • More than half the people in the world survive on 25 gallons of water per day. The average American consumes 159 gallons a day.

I'm not blaming America for global poverty. There are corrupt governments to blame. There are natural elements like drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis to blame. There's greed. That's such an ugly word. Greed. Few people consider themselves greedy. But if we look at our own lifestyles with an honest pair of eyes, I wonder how much greed we'd really see. I'm ashamed to say that I stink of greed. It permeates me.

Let's be honest: It's hard to change your ways. After a lifetime of leaving the water on while you're brushing your teeth...or taking nice, long, hot showers, or tossing out the bread that's not as soft and moist or the fruit that's not quite as ripe. It's hard. But sometimes we have to do the hard things in order to right the wrongs.

Global poverty: You Suck.

#14: Getting Old

Let's face it. Getting old sucks. In a society--nay, a world--where practically everything is focused on youth, being the old fart in the room is no fun. Yeah, "old" is a relative term. A 14-year old might say anyone over 30 is "old." (Ack!) You might think "old" doesn't happen til you're 80. But one thing's for sure, as you get older, things start to change. And it ain't no fun!

First, there's the sag factor. Oh the sag! Your skin heads south for the Winter of your life and Spring never comes back around. Before you know it, your flaps have flaps! (I wonder: If we spend half of our lives upside down, would the sag factor balance out?)

And another thing that sucks about getting old: Hair. Either hair you dearly want to hold onto is disappearing...or hair you never invited is showing up like unwanted cousins during the holidays. I think Billy Crystal said it best, in City Slickers, when he said:

"Do you know what I found yesterday? Hair in my ear.
I'm losing hair where I want hair and
getting hair where there shouldn't be hair.
I found four big fat ones on my back;
I'm starting to look like the fly."

Hairy ears. Nose hairs that look like witches brooms growing from your nostrils...and the eyebrows. What's up with the eyebrows? One day you have normal eyebrows, the next you've got these wild, wiry projectiles protruding from your forehead like some kind of sagebrush on steroids. Andy Rooney, Mark Twain and a rockhopper penguin all rolled into one! Yech!

Let's be honest: Everyone ages. Some more gracefully than others. And we've gotten pretty pathetic in our attempts to tell ourselves that we're not getting old, with sayings like, "30 is the new 20", "40 is the new 30" and "50 is the new 40." Whatever! 30 is 30. 40 is 40. 50 is 50. We're all getting old! Now...where is that age-defying skin cream when I need it?

Getting old: You Suck.

#13 Long Commercial Breaks

So I'm watching American Idol the other night and Ryan Seacrest does one of his pathetic attempts at trying to seem sly when he tosses to the commercial break.
"Syesha. America voted...and you are...gonna find out
what they said...after the break!"

Gag. Then I sit through a commercial...and another...and another...and another. Oh for crying loud, how many commercials are there? 5 minutes. That's right. A 5 minute commercial break!

Then, on Thursday night I was watching one of my other favorite shows, Lost. Man, as if this show doesn't move slow enough...another 5 minute commercial break!

Remember when Chuck Woolery would toss to commercial break during Love Connection?

"We'll be back in two...and two."

Referring to the 2 minute commercial break...and the second that it takes to transition into the break and the second it takes to transition out of the break. Two minutes...two seconds. THAT'S an acceptable commercial break.

Let's be honest:
I know these networks have bills to pay. And I fully expect a commercial break during my programming. It's a good time to go to the bathroom, fetch a beer...whatever. But now it's also enough time to re-tile the bathroom, polish off a six-pack, burp and then use the re-tiled bathroom! It's getting ridiculous.

Thank God I have a DVR now. Talk about something that doesn't suck! I don't know how I survived before it! Now I can zip through 5 minute commercial breaks in less than 20 seconds. So I rarely watch a show as it's airing these days. I record...and watch later.

Thank you DVR!

Long Commercial Breaks: You Suck!