Stop Petting My Peeves

Ah, pet peeves…

Those pesky little things you notice or others do that get under your skin enough to be annoying but not enough to call people out or end relationships over. I probably have more than four, but I’ve only been asked to write about four, and these are the first four that popped into my head.

My first pet peeve is grammatical which will come as no surprise since I’m an English teacher. (For the record, I make mistakes in my writing all the time, and I feel it’s more important to write with errors versus not writing at all, but I digress.) Pet peeve #1: there is no apostrophe when you are pluralizing people’s last names. Sending a card to a family with the last name Smith? It’s “The Smiths” not “The Smith’s.” If you include an apostrophe, you’re telling me about something belonging to the Smiths, and I’m wondering what it is because it’s not mentioned on the envelope.

Wondering what to do if there’s an “s” at the end of the family name? Well, by golly, you just add an “es” to the end of the name! Card going to the Morris family? “The Morrises” is correct (versus The Morris’s or The Morris’). Card going to the Jones family? “The Joneses” is correct!

Handy tip: you can save yourself any apostrophe embarrassment by just sending your cards to “The Jones family” or “The Smith family.” Problem solved!

Whew! One down. And it was the longest, so thanks for bearing with me.

Pet peeve #2: tailgating. If I can see the whites of your eyes in my rear-view mirror, you’re too damn close to the back end of my car. And you know what happens when I jam on my breaks because little Suzie is running into the street after her ball? You smash into me, and it’s your fault. Also, if you ride my ass, I will slow down to the exact speed limit out of spite. Just don’t do it.

Pet peeve #3: not enough ice in the iced tea. Ok, seriously, what’s up with this? Restaurants of the world, please take note. If someone orders iced tea, please fill the glass at least 2/3 full with ice before pouring just-brewed tea over it. And when you re-fill the tea, re-fill the ice too. I get served more watery, lukewarm “iced” tea than I can tell you about in this little blog post. Learn the correct ice to tea ratio. If you forget, just think about what the beverage is called. It’s a built in hint.

And last, but certainly not least, pet peeve #4: bullying. I read a good explanation of bullying years ago, and I want to share it here. If you are doing something that hurts someone, and they have made you aware that your behavior is hurting them and have asked you to stop, and you continue to engage in that behavior, you are a bully. Deliberately hurting someone for sport or to get what you want or to make yourself feel powerful is mean and small and callous. I have known overt and covert bullies, and they all have one thing in common: utter insecurity.

Obviously, I think bullying is worse than a misused apostrophe, tailgating, or warm tea, and it probably shouldn’t be classified as a pet peeve as I think it’s an issue that runs rampant in our society today. But just maybe, if we could slow down enough to proofread our writing, get off the ass of that Prius in front of us, and make a decent glass of tea, we wouldn’t feel the need to be mean to one another in other, more obvious ways. See? Grammar (and ice!) really can change the world!

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