Entirely Benign, Appropriate Things That Make You Seethe

There are so many things I’d love to contribute here but I’m afraid I’ll come off as a misanthropic crank. I’m genuinely not, I just have very little tolerance for small talk, or people who just talk to fill the air. My 7th grade English teacher had an expression: “Don’t just talk, say something.” and thirty-odd years later it sticks with me. My parents, even before aging and memory problems kicked in, have always seemed very uncomfortable with silence and would have a tendency to comment or prattle for no reason. Hardly a war crime, but I’m very much the opposite in my temperament and will happily sit in dead silence with people I know.

But I will tell this story. Once again, normal human beings doing normal human things. But painful like a three-pronged garden thingie to my soul. A couple of years after my grandmother passed away, my grandfather got remarried. The ceremony was held at a big resort in Lake George, NY. His new wife had a big family and her whole brood came, but our bench wasn’t quite as deep, so he invited a number of friends for balance, many of whom he’d known when he lived in New Jersey in the fifties and sixties. One of them, resplendent in his swimming pool colored dress suit, felt the need to comment and chuckle on every slightest thing. “Cake twice in one day. Heh-heh-heh.” “Family photo. Heh-heh-heh.” “Some more people arriving. Heh-heh-heh.”

Normal senior citizen behavior. Agony.

The dinner was pretty much the fanciest formal spread I’d ever attended up to that point. Five or more courses, served half an hour apart. Salad (dirty lettuce), soup (who knows?) and then the fruit plate, which was one of those artistic monstrosities with two sliced strawberries, a grape cut in half, a slice of melon, yadda yadda, you know the schtick, I hope they didn’t pay too much for this. When the fruit plate comes, this one woman with a broad New Jersey accent next to whom I’d been seated decides I just need to hear this…(deep breath)

“You know they gawt these seedless wawtuhmelons now? I couldn’t believe it! I sawr it on television, it was AMAZING, they grow these wawtuhmelons without seeds so ya don’t get 'em stuck in ya TEETH, this was fanTAStic, seedless wawtuhmelons. I cawlled my dawtuh I said honey, you heah they gawt these seedless wawtuhmelons? And she said Maw, you get excited about the DARNEDEST things! But to me this is exCITing! Seedless wawtuhmelons…”

I know she was being friendly and I feel like a jerk about it. But sweet jeebus, it was sheer force of will not to respond violently.

Yes. Yes.

Sometimes I wish I had a transcript of the things people say around here. Yesterday a co-worker said to me, “I want to ask you a question. Now you may not know the answer, or you may not know it yet, or maybe you just know who to ask…or maybe you do know it!” Unfortunately I was not armed at the time.

Does he complain about your “hobby”?

Not that I know of. That would be folly.

After once catching the look on your face after this had happened by chance, I made a point of lurking round the corner just to get your goat.

It’s the “bless you” that makes me seethe.

And as a senior, this makes me seethe. So does “Boomer.”

I’ve been working from home since the plague descended. Across the street, a teacher has been working from home, too. She works in her garage, with the door up. She has set up a kind of stage “classroom” behind her to act as a backdrop, and teachers her students via Zoom or whatever kind of hookup remote teachers are using. All entirely benign and appropriate.

Except she uses a bizarre voice to speak to her students. I suppose the students are quite young, and she puts on her artificial storytelling voice to put her point across. And she does it at about 80 decibels. My office is slightly around the corner of our house from her open garage door, so I hear a nonstop not-quite-intelligible mooing and meowing recitation. My poor husband’s office is in a direct line with the open garage door, so he gets more of it. At least he has noise-canceling headphones.

I think I’d develop a need to mow my front yard and blow away grass clippings on a daily basis. At least Monday through Friday.

It was perhaps benign and appropriate until it became loud enough to interfere with your and your husband’s work spaces. Ask her to close the door (or mow your lawn/run your leaf blower).

I knew somebody who always said “Bless you” promptly after the first sneeze. And the second. After the third it was “Oh shut up!” in an exasperated tone with just a hint of “just kidding” in it. It was masterful.

I brought it back out during the early parts of the pandemic…

My wife worked with Covid patients, so I used it, not for her sneezing, but for her coughing.

Back when I lived close enough to work to bike to the office, the bike path I took passed by a large patch of wild blackberries. On the way to work I typically didn’t feel like I had time to stop and eat any of the berries, because I had to get to work. Frequently in the morning there were a couple of old ladies who probably lived in the nearby retirement community out with baskets picking blackberries. On my bike ride home, when I wasn’t in any hurry and had time to stop and “graze”, there were very few ripe berries left within easy reach, because the old ladies had picked them all that morning. Like I said, the blackberries were growing wild, they didn’t really belong to anyone, and the old ladies weren’t doing anything wrong by picking them. But I always got kind of mad at them for not leaving any for me, like they were taking “my share” of the berries.

A couple of SDMB annoyances. First, “I misread that as . . . .” This is hardly ever necessary to say, unless you’re telling us that you need a new eyeglasses prescription. Second is when someone makes a typo and others feel the need to joke about it rather than just ignoring it. Both annoyances will sidetrack the topic.

Arguable, in both cases. When they are poorly done or with malice or generally stupid, they deserve your scorn. Sometimes, though, they do contribute a reserved snicker or two that can improve one’s day.

“data” as a plural, as in…

“the data show…”
“the data are clear…”

Strictly speaking that’s correct but it is nails down a blackboard for me.
I even taught data analysis as part of my job some years ago and could not bring myself to use it in that way, no-one seemed unnecessarily confused.

I’d no sooner use it as a plural as I would ask for a single long thin italian toasted sandwich and call it a “panino”

IIRC for this one a lot depends on whether your English is the USA version or one of the Commonwealth versions.

My wife has several things with laundry instructions that say “Wash inside-out”. And even though my t-shirts are never inside-out when they go into the washer, occasionally one will come out of the dryer that way.

So I had TWO trucks encroaching upon my driveway today. Temporary jobs at neighbors’ houses, although why they can’t park in front of THEIR houses or block THEIR driveways, I have no idea. Anyway, I decided to research my city’s ordinance on distances for parking and I found a post from a few years ago with someone complaining about cars being so close she can’t get in or out and a cop replied how they don’t enforce it. They told her to call when it happens and they’d check it out, but parking is too dear here so suck up and deal, basically. I could not believe my eyes.

The singular is “datum”, and the plural is “data”.

So if you’re saying “data” is singular, what should the plural be?

Cow-orker is not an insult. It’s a “Doperism” - one of those phrases that is commonly used here at the Straight Dope. I believe it derived from a misspelling once upon a time, and became a thing. No shame is intended.