cur-mud-geon (noun): a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man
As I grow older, and older, and older, and–you get the picture–I find myself getting crankier, and crankier, and crankier about certain things that pester me. In fact, I’m becoming quite the curmudgeon. I should rename this space “The Curmudgeonly Twit” or “The Humorless Curmudgeon.”
You see, I’ve used this space many times before to rant about things that annoy me. This month is no different.
My annoyance du mois is getting accosted by solicitors on the street. Few things raise my ire the way this does.
To all of you who would accost me as I walk down the street, listen up closely: I don’t want your garbage. I’m not going to give you any money. Don’t give me your flyer. What part of leave me the heck alone do you not understand?
To all of you who would accost me at intersections as I drive, listen up closely: I’m not going to give you any money either (this goes double for the woman on the Palmetto off-ramp in Hialeah who has been panhandling at the same intersection for the last four years). I don’t want your rotting flowers or rotten fruit. I don’t want to buy the bottle of water you refilled from a garden hose in someone’s front yard. I don’t want to buy the fish wrap you’re trying to hawk. I don’t even want to wave or motion no to you with the flyers, I don’t want them, PERIOD. I deliberately left a gap between my car and the one in front so I can pull up as you approach me. Read my lips: LEAVE ME THE F&%*$ ALONE
I have a quote for those of you who think I’m being anti-social. It’s from a past Supreme Court Justice, William Orville Douglas. In fact, he was the longest serving justice on the Supreme Court in our nation’s history, at 36 years and seven months. The quote is:
The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom.
Now let me note that I’m not truly anti-social. I just don’t want to be bothered while I’m in transit from one place to another. My focus while I’m driving or otherwise going somewhere is to get there as quickly as possible, without interruptions.
As I see it, I am neutral while I’m, say, driving somewhere. I am not looking to bother anyone else; I am not looking for anything from anybody. I just want to get to my destination, as quickly and safely as I can.
Somebody who accosts me wants something from me, and that upsets my neutral balance, as it were. Now I have to put my thoughts on hold, or stop singing to the song on my car radio. And I resent the interruption.
I haven’t done anything to the person interrupting me. I am simply minding my own business. Why can’t he, she or it mind his, her or its own business and leave me alone?
I don’t mind someone simply asking me what time it is, or someone needing directions, or other legitimate help. The problem is that, after constantly being accosted by people wanting to sell me something or otherwise wanting my money, I have become suspicious of anyone approaching me. News stories about robberies and muggings don’t help, either.
I suppose this is a part of urban living. The couple of times I went to New York, I remember being accosted all the time by panhandlers and people selling stuff, usually schlock. The worst incident came as I stood in line at the so-called Soup Nazi’s window, made famous in an episode of the television show Seinfeld. He did make really great soup, by the way, but I digress.
A panhandler came around and asked everyone in the line for cash, but no one ponied up. Finally, in frustration, he insulted and threatened us en masse: F— all y’all stingy-a– white motherf—– he said (never mind that there was at least one Asian woman in the line, as well as a couple of parents with children). Y’all are lucky the police station is right around the corner or I’d rob your a–.
That’s a true story and if memory serves me correctly (and I’ll admit it rarely does), I am actually quoting verbatim from the would-be panhandler/mugger.
One phenomenon I haven’t seen in New York or anywhere else for that matter, other than South Florida, is the intersection vendor. It used to be merely annoying when you’d have just the flyer/postcard handouts, or the kids with their helmets supposedly collecting for their sports team (wanna bet some of those kids didn’t use part of the money they collected to buy themselves cold drinks after standing in the hot sun for hours?). But then came the aggressive Will work for food (Ever try offering these folks a job to see if they would indeed work for food? Good luck.) panhandlers.
Now with people selling just about everything under the sun (literally and figuratively), it’s downright dangerous. Not to mention, every major intersection in South Florida looks like a convenience store.
You’ve got people selling newspapers, flowers, sodas, bottled water, fruit, vegetables and even shrimp. Between these street vendors and Farm Stores’ drive-through windows, we no longer have to get out of our cars to buy basic necessities.
Too bad some stores are starting to become like these intersections. Try walking down the aisles of certain supermarkets without someone wanting you to try a sample of some food or beverage.
Oh well, at least these folks actually want to give you something, rather than take something from you. But I still wish they’d leave me alone!