Just last month, opinion journalism lost one of its giants: Andy Rooney. New, I usually didn’t agree with Rooney’s viewpoints – he was a liberal while I’m more conservative to libertarian – however, there was one key respect in which we were kindred spirits: crankiness.
Rooney gained a reputation as the cranky old man of CBS News who pontificated endlessly about how various aspects of the modern world irritated him. Heck, even some of his obituaries unabashedly employed the word “cranky.”
Now, being a curmudgeon came easy to Rooney. He did, after all, live to the ripe old age of 92. At that age, youngsters (usually referred to anachronistically as “rapscallions” or “whipper-snappers”) become the enemy. Telling them in no uncertain terms that you want them to stay off your lawn becomes second nature.
I, conversely, have always been prone to being cantankerous. My father once described me as “the youngest grumpy old man I’ve ever known.” Incidentally, I was only 16 years old when he said this, yet took it as a compliment.
Given this background, I think that I would be the perfect successor to Rooney’s journalistic style of complaining endlessly (and sometimes inappropriately) about modern inconveniences. To throw my hat into the ring, I have compiled the following random list of things that bother the living snot out of me:
1. People Who Can’t Mind Their Own #$%&$% Business: I’d like to think that one of the defining characteristics of New Orleans is that we leave well enough alone. However, every now and again I encounter somebody who gets their jollies by confronting random strangers on the street to register their disapproval regarding some trivial matter upon which they are largely ignorant. For example, there was the time I went to a dog-friendly bar with my beagle, and left after one drink because they were crowded. As I departed, some jerk openly berated me for taking my dog due to the crowd, which I was already in the process of avoiding. It was a needless confrontation. My beagle, in true Snoopy-style, was nonplussed.
2. Cars Parked Over the #$%&% Yellow Line: Look, I’m no friend to New Orleans meter-maids, but it’s the parking scofflaws that justify their existence, When somebody parks their car flush with the corner, turning vehicles can’t see oncoming traffic. This leads to t-bone accidents at unregulated intersections, which in turn leads to New Orleans having some of the highest car insurance rates in the nation. If I had my druthers, any car parked completely over a yellow triangle would immediately be crushed into a cube and used to bludgeon the owner into a pulp (not that I’m for cruel and usual punishment, mind you, for while it might be cruel to pummel scofflaws into mucilage with a steel cube, it is not, in fact, unusual).
3. Tourists Who Drive Slowly Down Major Thoroughfares and Stop at Every #$%&$% Intersection: I fully understand that we are a tourist town, and that the economy therefore is unduly dependent upon dumpy Midwestern families wearing cargo snorts and crocks (shudder), but at the same time, we are an active city where people actually live their lives. Visitors need to respect that. Accordingly, I become more than a bit perturbed when I get stuck behind Joe Blow with out-of-state plates who expects me to have my journey delayed while he meanders down St. Charles/Prytania/ Magazine at twelve miles per hour, braking at every blasted intersection. Yes, I know the mansions are pretty and captivating as are jingling keys to a toddler. However, if you want to look at them, please pull over.
4. People Who Think They Can Appropriate Public Property as Their #$%&$% Own: You see this phenomenon every year during Mardi Gras. People come in and install gargantuan ladders, rope off parts of the neutral ground, and basically go about as if they have squatter’s rights. We also see it in the streets, when moving vans block traffic lanes and people put up cones to call “dibs” on street parking. It’s always wrong. Public property is public property. It’s all first-come first-served. There are no reservations, buddy – this ain’t Commander’s Palace. Get over yourself.
5. Twits Who Complain #$%&$% Excessively During the Holidays: Come on, people. The holidays are not the time to hash out old grudges, to pick fights and complain. This is the Christmas Season and –
Wait a minute. I don’t think I quite thought that last one through. Scratch that.
Anyhow, I will take this opportunity to wish Merry Christmas to some, and deliver a “bah Humbug” to the rest. Feel free to pick your own object of cantankerous disdain in the comments. You’ll find it cathartic (and it gets the ol’ blood pumping!). Make Andy Rooney proud.
Owen Courrèges, a New Orleans attorney and resident of the Garden District, offers his opinions for UptownMessenger.com on Mondays. He has previously written for the Reason Public Policy Foundation.