Traditional Airing of Grievances

Today, December 23rd, being the sacred day of Festivus, I am obliged by dictates of ritual to take part in the traditional Festivus Airing of Grievances. Orthodoxy states we must” lash out at others and the world about how one has been disappointed in the past year.”

This is going to be difficult because I haven’t really been disappointed by anyone or anything over the past 12 months. In fact, (and I almost don’t want to commit this to paper) I’ve had an exceptionally good year, personally. I will qualify that by saying that I don’t quite know how or why that should be so, since a good percentage of the people I know have had an exceptionally ungood year.

It never feels quite right to be enjoying good fortune or feeling happy when people close to you are suffering in some way. And yet, I know if someone else were writing this on their blog, I’d be the first to comment and tell them to savour the pleasant times because who knows what’s around the corner, carpe diem, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and other platitudinal stuff like that.

It’s interesting that when you’re miserable, people will try to cheer you up by telling you how lucky you are that something even worse didn’t happen to you. “Oh, you’ve been demoted from Managing Director to Mail Room Clerk? Well, you should thank your lucky stars that you still have a job.”


Nobody ever says, “Oh, you got promoted to Managing Director? Don’t be happy, just think how much happier Irwin is – he got promoted to CEO!”

Whatever is happening in your life, has to be the most important thing to you. Wallow in it. Let yourself feel miserable if it’s something crappy and, for this moment, to hell with all the zillions of people in the world who are worse off than you. And if you’re happy, by jiminy make the most of it. You can share your good fortune, which will only make you happier, but don’t pretend it doesn’t exist because that benefits no one.

So all this is totally not in keeping with the spirit of Festivus. And although I’m generally content at the moment, I do have some overall grievances that deserve some airing. I’ve probably mentioned these somewhere along the line before, but for the record, here they are:

  1. Customer Service. Yes, the whole damn concept. I get that work sucks and that working with the public must suck squared, or even cubed, because the public sucks. However, this is where you’ve chosen to work and/or have been obligated to work, so why not make the most of it. It costs you nothing to smile and treat people like human beings and will probably make your day a little better because a few people might smile back. And business owners – why not put a little effort into keeping your staff sweet? Give them some training, a few perks, maybe a livable salary and you’ll be surprised how your profits suddenly and magically increase.
  2. Motor Vehicle Operators who believe they are the center of the universe. Okay, you have a car and pay through the nose for it and for the insurance and maintenance and you think you pay too much for fuel although the rest of the world pays 5 times as much. Unfortunately, all that money you’ve forked out only buys you the vehicle – not the entire world and all those in it. You still have to share the roads with all us lame-assed pedestrians (and cyclists and motorcycles). And we’re going to slow you down and insist on crossing streets and not getting run over. Also, would it kill you to take one minute extra on your commute and not cut us off as we’re trying to negotiate a cross-walk during a blizzard? It means the difference between hypothermia and no hypothermia to us, FYI. Also, could you not park your car in the crosswalk, please? The light won’t get green any faster just because you’ve positioned yourself to bask in its glow. I really hate it when you do that and one day I might walk right across the hood of your car. (Or “bonnet” if I’m in the UK)
  3. Keep Moving People. If you’ve decided to live in and/or visit a city there are a few things you need to know. First, there are a lot of people in a city. When they’re out and about it’s because they need to get places. They haven’t come out to stand and chat on the sidewalk. They haven’t come out to stand and chat in grocery aisles. They haven’t come out to stand in doorways and chat. And they sure as hell have not come out to ride mall elevators. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – they’re stairs, ya’ll. But don’t listen to me. Rick Mercer says it so much better:

 Happy Festivus Every One!


18 responses to “Traditional Airing of Grievances

  1. Oh my God! This video is perfect. I rant about this all the time. I thought it was only Koreans who did this. Didn’t realize it was a problem in Canada too.

    I ******* hate people who stand on the escalator and push their way into the subway before letting others off. fortunately for me, I’m a tall big guy and don’t care about your trifling feelings (when you’re being an asshat by not following common courtesy) and will just barrel through you. Exceptions given to the old, extremely young and frail.

  2. Oh no! Monday I was driving through the very big “shops at the mall” parking lot and I had to P like a madman and I was so close, SO CLOSE, to the bar but the cars were inching and inching because people kept trickling across the pedestrian crossing out of Best Buy and I finally just cut a guy off and came VERY close to rolling down my window and saying, “I’m really sorry but I have to P like RIGHT NOW!”

    I still say I’d rather someone stop ON the escalator than on the floor at the bottom or top. Unless it’s an airport. Then they need to keep moving at all times.

  3. Re: People who get into elevators before the those inside get out

    The same goes double for subways. In fact, those inside the subway car should be allowed to fire a volley into the gaggle of hammerheads standing on the platform ready to move forward in zombie-like unison. Sometimes, it seems like that is the only way to “plough the road”.

    Thank you for writing this tribute to one of my most favourite of holidays. Happy Festivus!

  4. My beef is with smug well to do asshats who control our business and government. We are told you can’t fix whatever by just throwing money at it.
    Can’t fix public education. The solution for their children, private school at $20 grand a year.
    Can’t fix health care. The solution for their trophy wife. $50 grand at a private clinic to get her tits inflated and her ass deflated.
    Can’t pay a living minimum wage. The solution for them, multi million bonuses as they run their companies into the ground.
    Can’t afford welfare, can’t afford housing, can’t afford child support, can’t afford environmental sense, yada, yada, yada.
    We live in one of the wealthiest nations in the world and these guys with the lacquered hair and dead eyes keep telling us we can’t afford to treat each other with human decency. A pox on all their houses.

    And on another point when is someone going to make John Baird let that squirrel he has glued to his head go back to the wild where it belongs.

  5. I also hate PollyAnna Do-gooders who (when you’re in an accident or going through some trauma), will tell you:

    “You’re lucky, it could be worse. There are people worse off”.

    *$%#!! ONE INSTANCE, where that advice has actually ever helped someone, and made them feel better.

    As for “lucky”…Hmph. Being truly “lucky” would be to NOT have had that accident or life-crisis in the first place.

    Another rant I have:

    Idiots who pay for groceries with a CHEQUE. And then we have to wait for their ID to be verified, and the signatures, and what-not.

    Morons. Like…you’re going in to buy FOOD. Would it be too much to ask, to come prepared to PAY for your purchaes !?

    If you’re smart enough to get a chequing account, surely you can handle a DEBIT card. Like the REST of society.

    Welcome to the 20th (yes, 20th) Century.

    Anyways, thanks for allowing us to air our Grievances.

    There’s a lot to be said for Festivus.

  6. “It’s interesting that when you’re miserable, people will try to cheer you up by telling you how lucky you are that something even worse didn’t happen to you.” — Yes, they do don’t they! Why is this? I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this too … but it really does grate on one’s nerves when you’re on the receiving end. It reminds me why Alice Sebold titled her memoir Lucky — because after she was brutally raped by a stranger, the police officer told her she was “lucky” that he didn’t kill her.

  7. Don’t worry about thinking it was a good year, I’m sure if you look back hard enough you’ll find things that really made you feel like shit.

    (*This advice has been given under the Festivus doctrine of ‘only give something you don’t want that the recipient doesn’t want either’–Happy Festivus!)

    – RG>

  8. I love Mercer and I do “pull over” to the right on an escalator – usually cause I’m reading and reading and climbing stairs don’t go together so well.

  9. Jazz: how old fashioned – reading not texting??
    Cell phone users who cannot move two feet without being so occupied with their little phone annoy me greatly. Especially when they stop suddenly when things get animated (for them only). I almost want to bump into them purposefully, but I doubt they would get the point of paying attention to what is around them.

    Happy Festivus, Everyone!

  10. One of the things I love best about my new/old city is customer service. There is far less of the ‘I’m waiting for something better’ attitude for there isn’t a hell of a lot of better in a small town’s economy. Yet people work here, for the very largest part, with dignity and a smile.

    Two of our daughters are here with us for the holidays and the four of us went grocery shopping together this morning. Steve manned the cart and the list and daughters and I became a three person scavenger team. At one point daughter number three came back with a couple of items and a dazed look on her face. “Mom”, she said, “there are helpful people at this grocery store.”

    It’s something I’m happy getting used to.

  11. Actually everything was going well for me until yesterday so I had no grievances to air.

    But, yesterday I went to open a carton of milk and instead of just opening normally it tore at the spout part.

    Stupid cows. It’s 2009 already. Haven’t you evolved enough to put a proper amount glue on the carton before you send your milk to the store..
    If you can’t put your milk in better cartons then I’m switching to goat milk or something.
    Probably goat milk. I can’t really think of any other animals that give us milk I would drink..

  12. Dr. Monkey – I’m open to suggestions on which feats you’d recommend. So far all we’re doing is the hefting of the wine bottles.

    Sean – I know! I’ve been complaining about this for ages and everyone thinks I’m too impatient. It was nice to see a celeb like Rick Mercer speaking up for me.

    Geewits – Definitely pedestrians need to be considerate, too. I cross intersections as quickly as possible (even in parking lots). And if I see a car has been patiently waiting for people to cross, I’ll usually let them go before I try to cross. I’m glad you made it to the washroom in time.

    Daniel – You’re welcome. It’s always a pleasure to share Festivus with you.

    Dave – Don’t laugh. My sister gave us all one of those cards with little donation notes that she wrote up herself. It’s kind of the hilarity high-light of Christmas this year…except that she was serious…

    Bandobras – Excellent airing! And yes, how is it we can’t afford all this important stuff, but CAN afford all sorts of insane stuff?

    Friar – Another most excellent airing of grievances. I can’t believe people still pay for anything (except rent) with cheques. I haven’t seen that for a good long while.

    Julie -I guess it’s a perspective thing. When you put something into a global perspective, whatever is wrong with you is going to minimize by comparison. But there are times and places for perspective and when you’re in the middle of a personal crisis, you’re not going to be able to see that and it really won’t make it any better even if you could.

    Grouchy – Oh! Very good. Bringing in other Festivus elements. Thank you, I shall accept that bit of advice in the spirit in which it was given.

    Jazz- Mercer does sometimes hit the nail on the head. Thank you for moving to the right.

    Violetsky – Happy Festivus to you, too…although I’m not sure that “happy” is the correct adjective in this case. There’s nothing really happy about Festivus. It’s sort of righteous. So maybe we could say Righteous Festivus to everyone! (I agree about the texters…very annoying)

    Grace – That’s astonishing. And very sad that good service should be something so unusual as to warrant such notice. Happy holidays!

    Heather – Good for you! And here’s to an even happier 2010!

    H&B2 – You should probably not be drinking cow milk anyway. That was meant for baby cows, not for grown up humans. Silly humans. Humans are supposed to drink human milk when they’re infants and then they get weaned and start eating real food. All the other critters just drink their species-specific milk when they’re little and then move on to food. This was a warning for you. Take heed. And happy holidays.

    Guillermo – Thank you! And to you and your family, as well.

  13. May happiness abound for you and XUP Jr. at this time and all times of the year!
    And keep up the good work! Your posts are always worth the read up here at the North Pole!