Columns 2009

I proudly present my 2008 Hall of Infamy

Following a time honored tradition, today’s column will reflect my selections for my annual Hall of Infamy. People, places and/or things inducted into this hall are those that annoyed and irritated me more than usual last year.  As always, we will end the induction ceremony with another inductee retired to a permanent room of dishonor in the Hall.

People talking on cell phones get a nod in this column every year, but this year I want to be a little more specific and send out a Bronx raspberry to those people who talk into their phones via tiny sets stuck in their ears. I am sick and tired of seeing them approach me, lips flapping and voices raised, causing me to think they are talking to me. By the time I get out the words, “I’m sorry. What did you say?”, they have passed and I’m left standing there chagrined.

Another perennial favorite is people who think their dogs should be allowed to not only run loose, but let loose their bowels whenever and wherever they please on the assumption that the city has pooper scoopers on the permanent payroll who will clean up for them.  But this year, I’d like to add to my pet peeves all people who let their cats out to roam our neighborhoods at will on the theory that you can’t keep cats inside. Cats kill baby birds. Cats use my flowerbeds as their personal toilets. One habit is annoying; the other is deadly.  If you can’t figure out how control your cat, maybe you should rethink cat ownership.

Another perennial nominee into the Hall of Infamy seems particularly appropriate this snowy Christmas season. This would be all Alaska drivers who seem startled each year when it snows and they realize they have to drive on it. Every year these drivers have to learn again that you can’t drive fast on snow, especially without chains or studs. If you do, you end up in ditches. And climbing up on my fender because you don’t think I’m going fast enough through the snow, even though I’m IN THE RIGHT HAND LANE, is both stupid and dangerous. If you want to kill yourself speeding on ice and snow, be my guest. But don’t choose my lane to do it in.

2008 having been such a political year, I could hardly have a Hall of Infamy that didn’t include some politicians. Much to my surprise, none of our current legislators/felons have made my list. I think Illinois has taken the wind out of Alaska’s sail on that one. But I do want to nominate our Current Occupier and his minions for using the phrase “9/11” to justify any and all transgressions by invoking national security. Our government has made this phrase not a reminder of an American tragedy, but a cover for its abuses of power.

I also think the phrase, “You bet’cha” needs to be retired into the Hall of Infamy if only because it re-enforced in people’s minds the idea that Alaskans are all a bunch of intermarrying bumpkins who can’t tell a continent from a country.  And if Governor Palin doesn’t stop winking like she’s a contestant on a bad reality show, I may just have to add her to the list. And yes, I do realize that modifying the words “reality show” with the word “bad” is redundant.

The final nominee for induction into this year’s Hall of Infamy was a close battle between two somewhat connected groups. It was hard to choose between the CEO who claimed he was worth his $30 million salary because without him, his bank would have lost even more money.  Or the senators who proudly announced that they’d scuttled the auto companies’ bail out because the unions would not give in to their demands for instant cuts in wages and benefits. Yet these same senators apparently saw no reason whatsoever to threaten to scuttle the bank bailout unless the CEO’s immediately cut back on their millions in salaries and bonuses.

In the end, I chose the senators because we actually elected them. The bankers never campaigned for our trust by telling us they’d govern wisely. The politicians did. Shame on them. 

May 2009 be a much better year for all of us.