How To Criticize and Complain
One night about a year ago, I remembered that I loved to write when I was younger and I had briefly considered it as a career. But reality has a way of rearing its head and a few years after college, I found myself with a family, a mortgage and a 9-to-5 job in a bank. But the desire to write never really left me. Ideas for articles, essays and stories were in my head frequently. Because I was so busy working, raising a family, and doing other “important” things (and yes, I was also a little lazy) those ideas never made it to paper and were lost in the wind. But still over this time I read hundreds of books and thousands of articles and I was constantly amazed at the talent of these authors to tell stories and make their words come alive with so much passion.
The idea of writing as a hobby occurred to me and I have been mulling around it in my head for the last month. Earlier this week I stumbled onto Hubpages and I thought “ why not”.
Wanting to see if this was for me, I toured this website last night and came upon a section which describes the types of articles that had the most success. Many of them were “how to” pieces by experts in their fields. I wracked my brain trying to figure out what I was an expert in. I have spent the majority of the last 25 years in mortgage operations. I did not think that an article on how to underwrite a mortgage would be very popular. In fact, as mortgages were my career, I did not want to write an article on them. The purpose of my new hobby was to give my mind a break from the day-to-day grind.
I considered articles on things like landscaping and home repair. But if you saw my house and yard you would know that I am not an expert on these things. Many of these how-to articles were recipes. My wife is the cook of the house. I do not cook often and as a result I’m not very good at it. I can microwave hot dogs and cook pasta with jarred sauce. That’s about it. Again, not exactly article material.
After thinking about it for a while, I decided the only thing I was a real expert at was sitting down and complaining. It was a talent that I had honed throughout my life and I was pretty good at it. What follows is a short primer for the novice from an expert in this field:
To start, find yourself a nice comfortable place to sit, preferably a couch. Or easy chair.
A good subject to start with are your neighbors. Practice such statements as “why doesn’t he do something about that lawn? It‘s been a mess for years”, “does he have to play that music so loud?”, “she’s parked in front of our house again!”, and “that kid drives down the street too fast! Someday he’s going to kill someone”. Practice these statements. I’m sure that before long you will be able to come up with your own that suit your individual situation. If you work long and hard on this you will get a nice reputation as the crotchety person down the street. That should earn you invitations to neighborhood cookouts and Christmas parties for years to come.
In most homes, the couch or easy chair is in a room with the television. Most Americans have dozens to several hundred stations. You are sitting eight feet away from a veritable gold mine of things to criticize and complain about. Because there is such a variety of channels and viewing tastes, I cannot cover them all, but I will attempt to describe a few of them.
News dominates cable. In fact in my package there are fives news stations. Along with the network news, that means there are nine sources where a person can get a portion of a major story and draw a conclusion based on that information. You really don’t need to get the full story. Besides that takes time and you have other things to do. Become a fan of one of more of the commentators. (there are also several on the radio) Their job is to take part of the story and explain it to you. Take what they say as gospel and shout down anyone who believes otherwise. These people will grow to respect you and because of your superior intellect, will soon come to agree with you.
Another staple of cable broadcasting are the sports channels. Sports are a perfect target for criticism. I am a New England sports fan and even with the great luck we have had over the past decade there was still many stupid players, bad plays and moron coaches. Yell at the screen at least three times every game. Even though they can’t hear you, pretend they get the message. After all, many of us played ball in high school and we know we could do better than the pampered millionaires out there. As for the coaches, we know more about the game than them. A few of us even couch our kid’s youth sports teams. We know we could do a better job. And we can do it sitting on the couch with the beer in our hand.
And, what would TV be without realty shows? They feature a huge combination of losers, narcissistic wanna be’s and meatheads who sorely deserve our scorn. Whether it’s the neurotic mother who enters her 4 year old daughter in a beauty pageant dressed as a pole dancer, the couple with 19 children, the overly competitive idiot who would do anything to undermine the efforts of his colleagues, or the socialite who stages a million dollar wedding for ratings and then divorces her athlete husband weeks later, you will never grow bored observing and criticizing the bottom feeders of society.
One more thing about reality shows, If I was from New Jersey, I would be livid about the way we were portrayed. I’m sure there are very few sterioded up muscle heads and painted sluts in that state. The vast majority of people are good, hard working individuals. Don’t they realize that most people their age have real jobs? If I was given a cool place to live and told my only job was to have fun, I sure would enjoy myself with a minimum of drama and stress. And what is with the argumentative, bitchy, Mob Wives?
By now, you should have grown comfortable sitting on your couch, condemning, criticizing and complaining about society. But it’s time to drag your butt to the car and go for a ride to observe another crop of morons and idiots. America’s roads are rife with individuals who seemingly got their driver’s licenses on sale at WalMart. On a typical drive it is common to observe the kid who has his music on 11 and the entire street is shaking, the numbskull who has had his directional on for the last six miles or the elderly person who driving 20 mph in a 50 mph zone. He has all afternoon to get where he is going. So what if you have an important appointment in 5 minutes and you are late!
The most dangerous driver is the person on the cell phone who cuts you off and then proceeds to drive slow. Why could she have not waited until traffic passed and then proceeded into traffic? It is evident that she is paying more attention to the person on the other end of her call than to her driving. She is going to cement her plans for Saturday night and put you in a wheelchair in the process.
The interior of cars create a perfect environment for outbursts. Sort of a mobile “Cone Of Silence”. Feel free to utter such statements as “look at this idiot”, “hang up and drive”, “c’mon, the accelerator is the pedal under your right foot”, and “let’s go people, some of us want to get to where we are going while our clothes are still in style”
A couple of words of warning about complaining on the road. This is not passive like yelling at your TV. You may come in contact with actual people and they may not like your attitude. Be very careful about any physical motions (known in some circles as “flipping the bird”) to other drivers. A car full of nuns is ok. (and they will pray for your soul. That can’t be bad.) But under no circumstance should you motion to the muscle head in the beat up Ford pickup with the gun rack on back and a bumper sticker showing Calvin relieving himself on a Chevy logo. Such a motion may be severely detrimental to your health and your future social criticisms as many hospitals have lousy cable.
Also, be very careful about the use of your horn. Only employ it when a fellow driver does something particularly dangerous or stupid. And remember, many people tend to get a bit cranky if you suddenly wake them from their mid afternoon nap.
Listed above are four sources for your criticism and scorn. There are others. For example, your spouse, kids, extended family, friends, acquaintances, bosses, telemarketers who call during dinner and helpdesk reps named Steve from Minneapolis (a.k.a. Krishna from New Delhi) and many others. Everyone has their own particular situations and I could not begin to imagine all of the possibilities.
In conclusion, let me give you a few tips to help you improve your ability to be a keen social observer.
1)Be careful about the nature and timing of your complaints.
For example, if your boss is stupid and has bad breath, it is not advisable to complain and criticize him in front of his bosses at the employee Christmas party, appreciation day or staff meeting. Such an act may put you on a first name basis with the receptionist at the unemployment office. Talk like this is best saved for after work bitch sessions with fellow peons at the local watering hole. If you truly want to improve things at work, do it professionally and speak to him in private. Research what you need to say and conduct the meeting like that. Even though his bad breath is making you gag, refrain from calling him “goober”, “dork”, “boner” or “cesspool breath”.
There are many other situations where you feel you would like to speak up but you should assess the situation before opening your mouth. My advice is if you feel that it may not be worth the headache don’t say anything and leave with a sense of superiority and know you are the better person
2) Refrain from discussing religion, politics or race with people you don’t know well. I cannot stress this enough. You never really know who you are talking to. Sometimes you can guess. You can assume that you do not share the political views of the 4 foot, 11 inch hybrid driving vegan you are talking to, but your life may be in danger if you find out the mean looking, unstable ex-prize fighter you are having a heated discussion with is heavily involved in the political campaign of a candidate you consider to be the son of the devil.
My advice for this is the same for the one above, if you’re not sure, play it safe. Also, don’t tell any jokes starting with “A priest, rabbi, George W. Bush, Louis Farrekan, and Osama bin Laden walk into a bar……..”
3)Learn to mumble. This can be helpful in situations where you just can’t keep quiet. If the person you’re talking to wants to know what you said, just tell them you were trying to remember what your wife told you to pick up at the store on the way home (or some such nonsense). By learning how to do this you can get the satisfaction of telling people off and not getting into trouble. As an added feature if you do it enough, people will think you are always deep in thought and be impressed by you. Try and do this whenever you can (at work, social engagements, at the mall etc…). you will be surprised at how pain in the neck coworkers will leave you alone in deep thought in the lunchroom and how annoying friends will no longer call.
I hope this short primer will help you in your effort to become a better person. Complaining and criticizing can help bring about change. If it’s done your way, it is good for the country. It can even be patriotic! Tell yourself you are just trying to make a better life for your children and grandchildren!