We all have our pet peeves. These are not common dislikes, such as an aversion to cruel behavior, people who talk in movie theaters, or murderous dictators. I speak of the peeve here. Mine are possibly uncommon, but who can say for sure? One doesn't normally broadcast their secret loathes unless they're blogging, such as myself.
So here are a few of my peeviest of peeves: I hate drivers who don't use their turn signals, cabinet doors left open, and refilling ice cube trays. Drivers who don't use their turn signals is currently the number one despised-by-me at this moment, but there was a time not long ago that refilling ice cube trays made my soul run with dread.
I first remember noting the fact that I hated refilling the ice cube tray when I was very little. I was spending two weeks with my grandma in Southern Illinois. She had blue-rinsed hair, a green thumb and the ability to make a pie crust light as air. She was also very particular about how things were placed in her refrigerator. The glass jug of cherry Kool Aid had to be on the second shelf, left hand side, the eggs had to be in a yellow ceramic bowl, dead center, top shelf; that sort of thing. And the goddamn ice cube trays had to be constantly refilled at least three times a day during the sweltering summers. The trays were the old fashioned metal kind, where you pull the lever up to crack them loose, then dump the contents in an ancient plastic sherbet bowl, right side of the freezer, next to the mountains of foil-wrapped catfish my grandpa brought home from trolling off the ferry. I was in charge of keeping the sherbet bowl stocked and the ice cube trays refilled. Grandma would see her husband coming up the walk, and warble, "Beck, get the ice cube trays done up." My hackles rose, my teeth clenched, and I went to fetch the folding chair to stand on so I could reach the freezer. I hated it. The job wasn't particularly strenuous, time consuming or even bad by any normal reasoning. Still, I hated it.
Now, older and wiser, with ten times the patience of my youth, that little chore still annoys the hell out of me. Not the teeth clenching aversion of a five-year-old, but still enough to bring a frown of impatience to my face. I do it quickly, like pulling off a band aid; dump the ice in the bowl, refill, shove it in the freezer and slam the door. Hide the cursed unchilled water in the cold dark, where I don't have to look at it. If I ever have enough money to buy my own refrigerator, I'm getting one with an automatic ice maker, one that will also crush the damn stuff if I want it to.
I love observing other people to see what their pet peeves might be. Working as a waitress, that's a surprisingly gleeful thing to do. People come in and tell me entire histories of themselves without having a clue that anybody is paying attention, least of all the nameless creature who brings their plates. Catfish man hates anything that's not quick. He walks rapidly, lippidy lippidy, to his seat, slides in smoothly and refuses the menu. He always orders the same thing: catfish and iced tea, extra lemon. If you're not fast, he climbs the walls. He's not mean about it but you can see the tension building: the jaw clenches, the bottom lip straightens out, he starts to twitch. We've timed this reaction. He begins to twitch forty seconds after he's seated. Literally, forty seconds. He eats fast, no nonsense, no conversation, pays fast, cash always, and zips out the door in a handful of quick step strides.
People ask for plastic forks because they don't trust the dishwashers, carefully separate veggies in their salad into aesthetically pleasing piles, fold their napkins just so and tweak them into perfection throughout the meal, re-apply lipstick between courses, and tremble under the willpower needed to restrain themselves from checking their blackberries when on a date.
My friends are equally fascinating. My best friend, when cut off by a lax driver, will frantically tap the corner of her steering wheel with a perfectly manicured nail. When I once asked her what she was doing, she said, "This is my blowup button. I just blew that bastard to hell." Her pet peeve is any driver who irritates her. Another friend despises people who collect frogs; will go into a rant regarding the mere thought of a frog collection. I make sure to send him a ceramic, or better yet, stuffed frog at least once a year. It's the streak of pure evil in me. Since he lives in a different state, he usually sends a text message photo of how he destroyed each gift.
I get a kick out of it all. I just love humanity, I really do. We are a strange, scary, hilarious, ridiculous, vicious, generous, magnificent bunch of goofballs. If we can survive our own bratty toddler stage, evolutionarily speaking, we will really be something wondrous to behold. So try not to sweat every body's foibles. Keep your blood pressure down, see the humor in their little quirks, and get a laugh from it all. We're all goofballs, we're all full of shit, and we all have the capacity to be magnificent.
And remember, there's always that blowup button.