Education Matters: Petty complaints, major gripes

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

In keeping with Glendale News-Press policy, I have changed my original piece, which expressed strong opinions about the election for Glendale’s board of education, and equally strong opinions about my former union. Feel free to contact me for a synopsis.

Instead, I’ll offer up yet another installment of “Things that Annoy,” with a brand new list that runs the gamut of petty complaints to major gripes. I believe most of these will resonate with you, but a few might have you scratching your heads, like:

I’m annoyed when a server says upon delivering my food, “Enjoy.” I don’t know why I find that annoying. I just do. I’m also not wild about “No problem” having replaced “You’re welcome.”

I don’t like it when someone punctuates a story with, “You know what I’m sayin’?” I want to answer, “Do I seem that dense to you that you keep asking that question?”

I have major problems with people that interrupt me when I’m telling a story because they are suddenly reminded of their story or they clip my sentences short because they think they know what I’m going to say. They will invariably ask me at the end of their narration to continue on with my story. “Oh, what were you saying,” they will ask. I usually respond, “I don’t remember now.”

Close cousins of the above are people who constantly reach into their pockets to check their communication devices, even while you are talking to them. They seem to want to convey the impression that, “I’m important, I’m popular, you’ll need to share my attention with others.” Those “others” are often nothing more than cyber clutter that passes for meaningful communication.

I have issues with people who don’t, won’t, can’t lift themselves from their sofas to get out and vote. Their mass absence from the polls is a blot on our democracy.

I am annoyed with people running for an elective office who plan to vacate that office after being elected in order to run for a higher office. (Any resemblance to current local candidates is purely incidental.)

I want to scream at all phone recordings that put, “If you’d like to speak to a representative…” last in their options instead of first, making me listen for long, mindless minutes.

Ditto for the recorded “friendly voice” that directs me through a maze of information gathering that I could have cut short by talking to a person. We’ve all gotten used to it, but we should all be “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.” (Think of AT&T’s present level of customer service and then try to imagine what it will be like after the company merges with T-Mobile.)

Why, oh why, are so many things we purchase these days encased in hard plastic that takes garden shears to open? I’m guessing it’s either a security device, packaging to make something seem better than it is, another coup for the plastics industry, or an insidious plot by the Chinese to frustrate an entire nation.

I’m annoyed by people who clear their throats in a disgusting way or blow their noses with gusto.

Ditto for loud gum chewers and open-mouthed, lip-smacking eaters.

Double ditto for obnoxious cell phone talkers who assault my ears in public with their private conversation.

I’m annoyed at having to use more than one remote control (one each for TV, DVD player, cable box, TIVO, etc.) and frustrated when they go into hiding or mysteriously migrate to another room.

I’m irritated when someone leaves their phone number at the end of a long message and says it so fast you can't understand it.

And finally, moving from annoying to deeply troubling, I continue to find the heavy influence of corporations and unions on our electoral process to be absolutely contrary to the concept of open and free elections. My teacher’s union has employed unprecedented political tactics that are nothing short of shameful, including appropriating union dues to finance campaigns and pay a teacher a full-time salary to be out of the classroom to manage “union business.”

Ok, I’m done _______ (perfect but improper word here). I’ll end on a bright note in hoping that better times are ahead for us all, and more enlightened leadership is just around the corner.

DAN KIMBER taught in the Glendale Unified School District for more than 30 years. He may be reached at

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