Take care of the easy stuff

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By Greg Dobbs

New Year’s resolutions for 2018 are coming soon. Bah humbug. I’d rather recommend resolutions for other folks to make. Resolutions to change not just big stuff, but everyday annoyances. And this doesn’t even pertain to people in the world’s scariest spots like the Middle East. North Korea. The White House.
Take packaging. Please. Have you ever cut your fingers trying to get at what you just bought? Sure, if some purchases weren’t protected by prodigious panels of plastic, the thieves would have a heyday. But there’s something wrong if we need a chainsaw to cleanly cut something open, and a first-aid kit to patch ourselves up. I’m told that there’s a tool distinctly designed to open profuse plastic packaging. I’d buy one … except I’d probably cut myself getting at it.
And shoelaces! Do the ends really have to be a foot longer than what you actually need to tie your shoes?
Then there’s brown sugar. Really! We can put a man on the moon — actually we’ve put 12 of them up there, including Alan Shepard, father of Evergreen’s own Laura Shepard Churchley, but we can’t figure a way to keep brown sugar soft?
And airplane announcements. I was on a plane last month and the pilot was telling us something. Or at least he was talking, I’m sure of that. But no one could decipher what he was saying. Granted, I’d rather the plane’s critical components function flawlessly than the sound system. But you have to wonder, if they can build engines to propel 200 tons of metal and fuel and people and pretzel sacks thousands of miles through the sky, couldn’t they build speakers to push the pilot’s announcements three feet to our seats?
Like I said, not big stuff but everyday irritants.
Like the strobe lights on squad cars of the Colorado State Patrol. I love what you do, State Patrol, honest, but if the whole point of stopping law-breaking motorists is public safety, wouldn’t it be safer if the rest of us weren’t utterly blinded when you do it?
And litterbugs. It’s easy to understand how, in the ‘50s and ‘60s, people thought they could throw everything from trash bags to beer cans to cigarette butts onto the side of the road. It was full of garbage anyway. But most of us have figured out since then that it’s unseemly and unsightly. Most, but not all. Every vehicle comes with an ashtray. If you didn’t know that, please find it.
How about servers in restaurants who grab your glass right around the rim when they’re refilling it? Excuse me, but that’s where my lips go!
And a “thank you” for a tip wouldn’t hurt. Coffee shop, gas station or anyplace else, sometimes the clerk clearly sees you dropping money in the tip jar. But says nothing (trust me, I’ve tested it). It’s a sad commentary that nowadays, the rare “thank you” stands out.
Now, a question to you: when’s the last time it really mattered whether a cashier gave you a couple of pennies change? The penny, sad to say, has outlived its usefulness. Especially when each cent now costs a cent-and-a-half to mint. Sorry, Mr. Lincoln, it’s time to retire.
Since all of this just amounts to a catalog of pet peeves, let me add another: vanilla. Yep, plain ol’ vanilla. I mean, why, if within a hundred miles there’s chocolate?
I grant you, we have more consequential challenges to our security and our sanity, like terrorism, and Trump. But wouldn’t it be nice if someone took care of the easy stuff?

Greg Dobbs is a 30-year Evergreen resident. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he was a regular Courier columnist.