I'm Mad as Hell...
I wish I could have titled this "I'm Mad as Hell and I'm Not Going to Take It Anymore". Unfortunately the things that piss me off the most are things that I have no choice but to bend over and keep on taking up the lower orifice. And that pisses me off even more. So in lieu of starting a revolution and standing all the bankers, lawyers, insurance executives, marketing geniuses, transport chiefs, politicians, and the BBC up against the wall (the Great Wall of China should be just about big enough) I've decided to honour them all with their own personal Warped Plastic rant. Like they deserve such special treatment.
There's nothing new here. It is, I imagine, the same stuff that annoys most people, and if it doesn't then it bloody well should.
1. Bank charges
I recently set up a direct debit scheme so I could make a small monthly donation to the Cats Protection League. Unfortunately, I forgot when the first payment was due and neglected to transfer money from my savings account into my current account so that there was enough money to cover the debit. I had plenty of money in my savings account and did in fact transfer the money first thing in the morning (7:00 am) the day of the payment but it was too late. Because I had the audacity to be £1.84 short my bank rejected the direct debit and charged me £35.00 for the privilege of doing so, which they euphemistically call an "administration fee". Gee, I didn't know administrators worked on commission; silly me, I thought they got an hourly wage like the rest of us mere mortals. 35 freakin' quid for the sake of a £1.84 oversight. This is the same bank that made a record profit of 6 billion pounds in 2003 - that works out to more money in a minute than I make in a week. This should be illegal.
2. Insurance companies
Good luck getting reasonably priced travel insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Should you have the unmitigated gall to have, say, heart trouble, your travel insurance will end up costing you up to double the price of your flight. That's if you can find a company that will insure you at all. A very good friend of mine who had a minor heart attack last year got quotes for travel insurance from £245.00 to well over £600.00 for a flight that cost £300.00. The irony is, she's probably less of a risk of a heart attack now than I am. Why? Because she knows about the condition and is taking steps to prevent a repeat. Me? I have no idea if I'm at risk of a heart attack, and in my book that makes me a much bigger insurance gamble than she is (I was quoted £45.00 for travel insurance). This amounts to nothing more than opportunistic greed masquerading as a "justifiable" risk. If there's any justice in the world the shoe will be on the other foot when those high flying insurance executives have their inevitable heart attack(s), but then, they probably don't have to pay for travel insurance anyway. I highly recommend the film "The Man Who Sued God", starring Billy Connolly, as a classic example of insurance annoyance.
3. Warning signs & our litigious society
Damned things are everywhere. "Caution: Contents are Hot" "Warning: Sharp Edges" "Not to be used as a flotation device" "Keep genitals away from fan" "Attention: Drinking petrol whilst smoking may be hazardous to your health" "Achtung: Nicht brekken nekk mitt dekken chair"
What a bunch of namby pamby whingers we've turned into. Can't make it through the day without warning signs made up by pencil-necked lawyers who seem to think they have the monopoly on common sense. I blame that silly woman who made a fortune from a bit of hot coffee on her lap, though I'm sure it started long before that. Thanks to her I can't buy a cup of coffee now that doesn't inform me in large letters that the beverage I'm about to enjoy is hot. Like I'm a dumb-backwards-ass child who needs these things spelling out for me. Of course it's hot, it's coffee dammit - it's supposed to be hot!! I'd be damned annoyed if it wasn't. I'm sure she's enjoying that 3 million dollars but will it replace the loss of all those Big Macs and large fries she's missing? I doubt it.
I subscribe to my friend Gordon's theory: Get rid of all the warning signs (and the lawyers) and let the people who are stupid enough to suck aerosol, stick their tongues on high voltage wires or hang from towel dispensers do themselves in so we can get them out of the gene pool.
4. The BBC
I started out trying to write an abridged version but it just took on a life of its own so you can see the full rant here: Why I Hate the BBC
5. Stores that move everything around every month or so
Drugstores seem to be the biggest culprits here and I know exactly why they do it. They don't want me to nip in, grab a pack of razor blades or some deodorant, whip over to the checkout and then get the hell out as fast as possible. That's what I want to do. They want me to wander around hopelessly lost and buy a bunch of stuff that I don't want or need while I look for the men's toiletries department that was right here by the feminine hygiene section the last time I was in. I must be the exception to this nefarious marketing ploy as it has exactly the opposite effect on me: I don't want to go in your damn shop at all - ever! Leave things where they are so they can be found easily or I'll get my gear somewhere else. It's that simple.
6. Public transport & the car wars
I'm really sick and tired of governments telling us to ditch the automobile and get on public transport. I don't disagree with the concept in principal. Our roads are woefully inadequate to handle the amount of traffic on them and the atmosphere isn't getting any cleaner with all those internal combustion engines clogging the place up. What I do object to is the backwards-ass way government tries to achieve that objective. Instead of making public transport a viable alternative, they try to make cars so expensive to operate that we'll end up leaving them in the driveway. It doesn't work. We'll bitch about the cost, but we'll keep driving.
Let me try and put this in plain english. So plain even a politician could understand it. Well, maybe not. A child perhaps.
A car lets me ride in cleanliness and comfort, at my own pace (within the limits of the law anyway) and with passengers of my own choosing. It gets me to my destination on time, traffic congestion permitting, and it gets me right to my destination without having to walk half a mile or change my mode of transportation two or three times. I can listen to music as loud as I want while I drive and I've got plenty of space to carry everything I need for my journey. I don't have to wait in the pouring rain or freezing temperatures for a car that doesn't show up and I don't have to wait at a shelter that's had its glass kicked out by knobheads for the umpteenth time. I don't get hassled by little shits who want to impress their mates by picking fights, I don't get foul-smelling drunks trying to start conversations with me and I don't fear for my life because the driver likes speeding down narrow lanes in a vehicle that exceeds the maximum width of the road. My feet don't stick to the floor because there are no unknown substances spilled there and I don't have empty beer bottles rolling under my feet every time the vehicle goes around a corner.
Let's compare that to buses and trains. They arrive in their own time, which is infrequent, especially in the later hours. Or they don't arrive at all despite the fact that you've been waiting in the pouring rain for 40 minutes and the timetable says several should have arrived in that time. They are dirty, uncomfortable, and the poor bastards that are forced to ride them are very often packed so tightly in there they make a can of sardines look like spacious modern living. They don't get me where I want to be when I want to be there and they usually don't get me anywhere near my destination without a half mile walk thrown in at the end of the journey. I can't listen to music except on headphones and even then I have to keep the volume down. I often have to wait at a shelter that's had its glass kicked out by knobheads for the umpteenth time because for some obscure reason bus companies would rather waste money replacing glass on a regular basis than just making shelters out of metal or brick. I get hassled by little shits who want to impress their mates by picking fights, I get foul-smelling drunks trying to start conversations with me and I sometimes fear for my life because the bus driver has had a bad day and likes speeding down narrow lanes in a vehicle that exceeds the maximum width of the road.
So you would think government would address these problems and make public transport a safe, reliable, frequent and comfortable experience which might go a long way to entice people out of their cars. But no, let's just ignore the buses that never arrive on time - or at all - and put more taxes, tolls and congestion charges on car drivers. And if that doesn't grab 'em, let's put petrol taxes up and make parking non-existent or extortionately expensive. Forget about the appalling rail service and let's concentrate on shafting those pesky car drivers. After all, trains have only been operating in Britain for 160+ years so we can't possibly expect the bugs to be worked out of the system yet.
Well, that turned out to be a major rant in its own right as well, but that's why they pay me the big bucks. Pity you can't spend bucks in the UK.
7. Call centres & automated phone lines
The only person on the planet who doesn't think call centres are the 7th level of Hell is the woman who invented them. But then, she wouldn't, would she? Selling the idea made her extremely wealthy. For the rest of us poor schmucks that are forced to endure them everytime we want a bit of customer service they are about as much fun as shaving your private parts with a chainsaw.
Oh, and here's another really good idea. Let's replace all the real live people with a mulitple choice automated phone line that gives callers 18+ options to choose from, none of which concerns the problem they've actually called about. Even better, we'll make it a game of skill and endurance. The first customer that actually negotiates the multiple choice maze and finds their way to where the living breathing human beings are (in a country 5000 miles away no doubt) will be instantly re-directed to an automated message telling them the establishment has closed for the day. Oodles of fun for kids of all ages.
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