This week the New York Times ran a story about small annoyances. Specifically, the article was about some researchers who were trying to figure out why certain things annoy some people but don’t annoy others. For example: The writer of the story gets very annoyed when someone behind her kicks her seat. That doesn’t bother me so much. The writer is also annoyed by public nail clipping. How do I feel about that? Completely fine, really, except for that fact that it makes me want to kill somebody. Especially when the public nail clipping is done on an otherwise quiet commuter train at the end of a long day. Seriously, what would inspire someone to clip his fingernails on a train? What kind of parents raise a person who thinks that clipping fingernails on a train is acceptable? If you are a person who clips your fingernails on a crowded train, what sort of awful, irritating, disgusting things do you do in the privacy of your own home? I shudder to think.
So I guess public nail clipping annoys me too. Just a bit.
One of the “takeaways” of the article, as we say here in Journalism Land, is that although there are a few universally annoying things—fingernails on a chalkboard, a wailing baby (which both have scientific or evolutionary explanations for why they bug us)—little annoyances vary from individual to individual. For example: My assistant, Ann, and I have spent a fair amount of time this week discussing how much it annoys her that kids no longer have to learn cursive in school. (And lo and behold, there is a Times article about that today too.) I see her point, although this doesn’t really bug me the way it bugs her. But I’m happy to hear her rant about it, because there is some masochistic part of my personality that, on certain days, actually likes to dwell on annoying things, just as I occasionally really love to listen to someone complain about something for far longer than they should.
Here are a few random, in-no-particular-order things that annoy me, in addition to the nail clipping:
1) dirt on my kitchen floor
2) people who look over my shoulder when they talk to me
3) dogs that drool a lot
4) people who talk so quietly that it’s hard to hear them
5) when frames on the wall are crooked
6) children who keep getting up before they are finished eating dinner (note: I have two of these in my household. I love them, but this still annoys me)
7) tourists who walk really slowly in front of me down a Manhattan street, looking up at the sky
8) drawers that are left open
9) anything sticky inside my car
10) a T.V. left on with nobody in the room
It’s one of those days: I’m all ears! What little things annoy you?
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