Tuesday, September 18, 2012


There is a stop sign in my neighborhood where I have to wait for traffic to pass so I can make my left turn. More often than not, the approaching cars turn into the road I’m on without signaling their intentions so I am left to sit there and ponder the idiocy of bad drivers instead of making my simple left turn. And this can go on and on and on for upwards of ten full minutes. Now I understand the term “road rage.”

And how can I not go bonkers after barely escaping and actually sometimes being the victim of accidents caused by bad drivers? I wish I could say bad drivers are the exception – maybe I’ve just been unlucky - but in my experience and apparently the view of hundreds of other bloggers and articles on the Internet, they’re taking over our roads.

Who are they?

Turn Signal Turncoats

This is the bad driver who refuses to follow the simple rule that the blinker is the first form of communication between cars. These are the guys who always leave you guessing where and when they want to turn or switch lanes. They make we wish I had one of those boxing gloves attached to a spring that I could propel in their direction. They need their ears boxed.

Honker Wonkers

You all know these drivers. They ride their horn as hard as they do their gas pedal. They’ll give you half a second after the light turns green before they blow their horn. Has no one ever taught them a horn is supposed to be used only to avert danger? Perhaps each new car horn should come with an automatic shut-off after a certain amount of uses. A good percentage of cars would be hornless within weeks.

The Tailgater Nerve Graters

Oh, for heaven’s sake get off my ass. Do these people think for a minute that riding your tail is going to make you move any faster – especially if you're in a long line of other drivers driving at the same acceptable speed?

Parking Lot Putzes

These a-holes come in several varieties. 1. The creep who takes up two parking spots. 2. The idiot who blocks the road waiting for a spot that may or may not be vacated within the next twenty minutes. 3. The direction-challenged moron who drives up a lane that clearly has arrows pointing the other way. 4. The head-up-his-ass goofball who ignores your lights and directional signals indicating you’re leaving a spot and recklessly speeds by you just barely avoiding an accident.

Freeway Fuck-ups

There are so many of these annoying drivers, I’m going to have to narrow the offenders down to a mere handful: 1. Ignoramuses who drift into your lane while talking on the phone, texting, changing DVDs or programming their GPS. 2. Jerks who speed up to cut you off, then slow down in front of you. 3. Dopes who insist on going forty-five while merging onto the freeway and stubbornly maintain that speed while everyone else has to slam on their brakes to keep from hitting them. 4. Pinheads who swerve in and out of lanes, trying to get in front of everyone. Two miles later you’re right beside them at the exit waiting for the same light.

And, these are just a few of the bad, aggressive, reckless drivers encountered on a daily basis. I’m sure you all have a half dozen or so to add to the list. The saddest thing is we can bitch and moan about it, but there’s nothing we can really do except maybe honk our horn (a no-no), give them the finger (not a good idea) or stay home (yeah, right).

Friday, August 3, 2012


Some people collect rare books or knit or make model airplanes. My hobby is registering complaints!

Every day we all come up against dismissive service, poor customer relations and illogical corporate polices. To combat this, I have started my own quiet, small, hardly noticeable protests and have received some surprising results.

Some years ago, I dropped into Saks in Beverly Hills. The woman behind the cosmetics counter barely paid attention to me, the only customer on the floor. I waited, shooting her my best death stare. My powers must have been on the blink because she continued to ignore me. When she finally approached, she said they didn’t have what I asked for and walked away. I stormed out of the store so burned that if anyone had come within a foot of me they would have been incinerated. I tried to let it go but I just couldn’t get past it. So I wrote to Customer Relations and sent it off while I was still in a state of outrage. A few days later, a huge (HUGE!) basket arrived brimming with goodies and a lovely apology letter. Needless to say, I am still a Saks customer.

A while back, Congress was hard at work on the new health care bill. I read the bill and had some important suggestions…and complaints. Of course I thought nobody would listen to me. But it gnawed at me and after years of hearing “write your Congressman,” I did exactly that. I also sent email to my Senators and the President. A few form email responses later, I got discouraged and forgot it. Then one day the phone rang. It was someone from my Congressman’s office! He spent almost an hour discussing my concerns and answering my questions. There was one thing he didn’t know and said he would call me back. Ten minutes later, he did! Not only did he continue the conversation for a while, he gave me his direct dial number and encouraged me to call him in Washington anytime. It’s nice to have friends in high places. This fall, the Congressman is getting my vote!

Most recently, I purchased a gift card at CVS for my friend’s daughter. I was told it was their ‘policy that these have to be paid for in cash.’ OK, no problem. I forked over the money and the woman showed me the receipt that assured me the card had been activated. Unpacking at home, I noticed the receipt was not in the bag but I figured it’s CVS, I saw it was activated, no problem. Guess what? There was a problem. When my friend’s daughter went to use it she was told it was not activated. Her mother called the credit card company and they had no record of it. Livid, I went back to CVS and spoke with a staff supervisor. Over and over he said, “I can’t help you without a receipt.” Granted, he may have had a valid point but I am not one to let valid points stand in my way. Oh no, not me. I broke it down for him. I hounded him with logic. I used intellect, charm and small words. Hard to believe, it didn’t work. 

I guess he wanted to pass the buck because he told me I had to speak to the store manager, Derek, who wasn’t there but I swore I would go back. I did. Four times! I was beginning to think “Derek” was code for “crazy lady in store.” So I did what anyone of sound mind and a strong fight spirit would do – I gave up. I started scoping out other pharmacies in the neighborhood where I could take my business. But before I moved my account, I went online and wrote to Corporate. Later that day, my friend made me go back on the Derek hunt once more. This time, I brought her with me. I figured showing up with a posse would give me fighting chance. What do you know – Derek was there. He was charming, understanding, kind and instantly made good on the gift card. But wait, there’s more. A few days later, early morning, the phone rang. It was Jennifer at Corporate who said, “How can we make this right for you?” What? Did I hear that right? I told her Derek had taken care of it and she even laughed at my “code word” joke. She said she would pass this up the corporate ladder - Derek would get a commendation and the staff would get a scolding. How do I know they actually did that? Now when I go into CVS, the staff kisses the hem of my garment.

Over the years I have learned contradictory lessons: don’t make waves vs. the squeaky wheel, etc. I have chosen to squeak, squawk and shriek about bad service, nonsense policies and poor quality products. It doesn’t always get me satisfaction but at least I have said my piece.

I encourage you to join the revolution. If enough people do it perhaps it will become the newest fad sweeping the nation. What have you got to lose? And hey, if you don’t like it, you can always go back to stamp collecting.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


On a day the Dow Jones surged 2.20% and Nasdaq gained 3.00%, I received a CNN Breaking News Alert:

Actress Katie Holmes has filed for divorce from Tom Cruise, his attorney says.

Other news this day included articles dissecting the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, the death toll of civilians in Syria, a bailout of European banks and Roger Federer’s stunning victory in the third round of Wimbledon (two sets down, he pulled through in a fifth set trouncing of Benneteau).

And yet, divorce is considered the Breaking News story.

The other day, the L.A. Times had a scathing article on the new HBO series “The Newsroom.” The show didn’t fare much better in some other reviews. It got me thinking: Is it possible the media doesn’t like a show about the media that points out the problems with the media? This show should be required viewing for journalists.

So with a Breaking News Alert from CNN (the most trusted name in news?) about a private matter between two people I don’t care about, the question is: Do news organizations lead the way to the dumbing down of America or are they just giving the people what they want?

Monday, June 4, 2012


“Whatever you decide is fine with your mother and I.”

I heard this line in a movie and my head exploded, my blood pressure rose and I screamed, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” As if I could really do anything about it.

While I am hardly William Safire, the basics of English grammar are ingrained in me. The movie line, written by one of my favorite writers, is, in plain English, wrong. The correct line should be, “Whatever you decide is fine with your mother and ME.”

Before you say it might have been appropriate to the character, I will point out that I’ve heard this mistake by this writer in his many other award-winning works and his smartest characters often use this special brand of cringe-inducing language. I love this writer. He is my literary hero. But each time I hear one of his characters go down this path, he dips in my esteem. I must admit when he makes the mistake, it hurts more but I have heard this same blatant misuse of “me” and “I” all over the airwaves, films and… wait for it… even in print.

Is it possible I’m the one who gets it wrong? Did I miss the latest edition of Strunk & White? Who changed the rules on me?

I hear “Between you and I” all the time. It’s like nails on a blackboard to me. “Between you and ME,” folks. Why is that so hard? When my close friends blunder this, I call them on it. The saddest thing is they fight me. For some inexplicable reason, they think “between you and I” is always correct, that it’s more proper, more refined. They are wrong, so very wrong.

We learned this simple rule in grade school. Always name the other person first. That one is obvious. But here’s a simple technique you can use to figure out if you should use “I” or “me.” If you don’t include the other person, which would you use? You wouldn’t say, “Whatever you decide is fine with I.” Oh, please, tell me you wouldn’t. And you wouldn’t say, “Me and Susie went to lunch.” That is wrong on so many levels. I've even heard this in executive boardrooms. Ugh. 

Why are well-educated, successful, creative adults making these blunders? I’m not the grammar police but there are grammatical rules in play here. If you don’t believe me, Google it. 

You know the adage to think before you speak. Good advice. And when you write, you have no excuse. Now I’m asking you to think twice, think hard and think grammar. Think about you. Think about me. Think about you and me.

Monday, May 21, 2012


As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. I am living proof.

My good deed? I gave to charity. A lot! Big mistake.

Most people wouldn’t see it as a mistake but rather a good thing. It is. Until it comes back to bite you on the posterior.

I now get five letters a day from causes I never heard of asking for money.  They enclose engraved stationary, greeting cards, cash (yes, they send ME money) and other "gifts" to entice me to give. How many too thin potholders, skimpy blankets and tiny reusable shopping bags does a person need? Not to mention the personalized address labels. That seems to be a favorite. I now have enough to last me until 2080. Does that mean I can never move? 

These enclosures used to make me feel guilty. Guilty enough to give, and give and give. Now, all I want to give is a few choice words that would have made George Carlin blush.

Where the heck are they getting the money for these mass mailings anyway? Why aren’t they using the money I’ve already sent to fulfill the promises of care for the afflicted and research for the cure instead of hounding me incessantly for more? They’re only going to use my money to send me more junk. If I want tiny engraved pencils, I’ll go buy them. 

And please don’t get me started on those annoying in-the-middle-of-dinner phone calls that bypass my “Do Not Call” injunction. They used to be polite exchanges between a solicitor and citizen. Now they’re shakedowns. For example, “Hello, Miss #@_*%$#!” or some other mispronounced version of my name. The mispronunciation is a clear indicator this is not a call from anyone who knows me but rather from someone who wants my money. Most of the time they work around my troublesome last name and call me by my first name.  Don’t get me started on how irksome that habit is.

Their spiel usually starts with some sort of praise like, “You have been such a generous supporter of (insert name of charity) in the past. Can we count on you for a hundred dollars at this time?” First, I gasp  at the audacity of the amount they expect me to give since these calls come on a weekly basis. Then I realize I have never donated to any such charity. I try politeness at first, saying something like, “I’m sorry. I just don’t have the resources to donate to every charity that asks,” and prepare to hang up. That’s never good enough for them. They come back with, “Perhaps you can give us fifty dollars.” Still calm, I say, “No, I can’t.”  Then the hondling begins. They keep reducing the price and my refusals keep getting firmer until I’m compelled to slam the phone down on them.

These people have forced me to take drastic measures. Now I refuse to answer any call from a number I don’t recognize. The downside of this method of containment is that I may miss a call from someone I might want to talk to.

Moreover, it’s getting to the point that I don’t want to give to any charity and that is not the way I was brought up, not the way I want to be. I come from a long line of givers. I believe in charity but I also believe that more guidelines and restrictions have to be established to keep those charities from abusing their privileges and donors. Of course, not all charities have been reduced to these heavy-handed methods of guilting gelt out of the generous. No matter how tough times are for me there will always be a few charities I still give to freely. They each mail me requests only a few times a year and never demand I give more. They send me thank you letters or newsletters on the progress they have made. They make me feel like I am doing something good for others and that’s what giving should be.

Plus, they know I don’t need another tote bag.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Here I am waiting…Again! I once tried to calculate how many hours I’ve spent waiting but my calculator doesn’t go that high.

Oh, the hours I have spent in the waiting rooms of doctors, lawyers and hairdressers. Do they think their time is more valuable than mine? I’m a professional, too. Perhaps I should bill them at my hourly rate.

I understand emergencies (I’ve been one) and a client who has more questions than anticipated (mea culpa) and a day blowing up because one salon client is late (never me). What I don’t understand is keeping people waiting as a way of life.

Some of the people I love most have a flexible relationship with the clock. I know this about them and have come up with many ways of coping. Some are obvious, some not. Don’t bother asking, I won’t give away my trade secrets here lest they read this and catch on.

Given the traffic conditions in Los Angeles, most everyone allows a ten-minute window of waiting. Somehow I manage to get wherever I need to go on time. And I’m time dyslexic! I can’t tell you if something happened a week ago or two months ago. I can quote conversations; I just have no concept of time. But I am punctual.

Last week I sat in a restaurant 12 miles from home. It was twenty minutes after the agreed upon time. The acquaintance I awaited picked the place, the time and, I believe, lives 5 minutes away. He requested the meeting because he needed a favor. Did he think this Fairy Godmother would be inclined to wave her magic wand and grant his wish after he’d been so cavalier with my time?

I expected him to stroll in with some tried and true excuse – a last minute phone call or L.A. traffic or the dog ate his date book. He used the “I lost track of time” excuse and gave me puppy dog eyes. What? Was he the dog that ate his date book?

If you can’t meet me on time at least come up with an entertaining story. My faves are: 1) I remembered I wasn’t wearing underwear and had to go home. 2) There was an accident on the way here and I had to stop to call 911 and a woman went into labor and I had to help and when I went back to my car it had been towed. 3) A naked guy popped out of the stairwell in the mall and I was so horrified I had find security and they made me fill out a report while the guy dressed and left. And the Grand Prize winner is: I couldn’t remember where I parked my car.

So here are some suggestions gleaned from years of experience (and mother’s etiquette lessons). If you have to be somewhere, don’t answer the phone on the way out. If you’re on the phone when it’s time to go, excuse yourself. Anybody worthy of your time will be considerate of mine. If you have to stop for an emergency, get stuck in traffic or misplace your car, call me, text me, email me. We have these wonderful new devices now. Unless, of course, you can’t find your cell phone. Then I don’t even want to know you.

You need to get somewhere at a certain time. So how hard is the math? Figure out how far you need to go and add extra time. Done! As for date books, most people use electronic devices now…with backups! Set your alarm for the time you need to hit the road. And if you are early (and haven’t lost your cell phone), there are some great apps you can use to pass the time.

So friends, please show up at the appointed hour. It’s so much easier than coming up with those same lame excuses, isn’t it? And please, professionals instruct your office to schedule your appointments more realistically.

OK, I’ve got to go now. Don’t want to keep my date waiting.

Monday, March 19, 2012


The Yiddish word, ”oy” may be uttered by young and old, Jew and non-Jew. According to Merriam Webster, it is an exclamation used to express exasperation or dismay. It can mean, “OMG, that was so hard,” or “This is so sad,” or “What the heck did I get myself into this time?”

You might say I am a woman of a certain age who has felt the sting of ageism in this youth oriented, looks obsessed culture.When one looks around at all the misguided souls who went under the knife to look younger and came out misshapen caricatures of their former selves or sees all the talent that’s left on the wayside in favor of younger, more attractive replacements (like our beloved Laker, Derek Fisher), it’s no wonder that so many of us go in search of that mythical fountain of youth.

For me Groupons and Amazon Local Deals have made the arduous trek toward eternal youth more affordable - but fraught with unforeseen dangers and major “oys.” My first foray into the wondrous world of discounted services was a ten-session membership at a local yoga school.

I thought yoga would be a nice, gentle way to start on the road to rejuvenation. After three sessions, I wound up with a torn rotator cuff and six months of physical therapy. While recovering from my injury, I fed my addiction to discounts with coupons for revitalizing facials, invigorating mani/pedis, and restorative massages. I left the skin spa with a red face and two scars that have not yet healed. At the nail salon, I wound up with a fungal infection. And the masseuse in training at the massage school? She pressed all the wrong pressure points. When I walked out, I had to rush to a licensed massage therapist   This “deal” wound up costing me $150 extra.

Since then I have tried to curb my obsession with cut-rate deals that promise youth and beauty, but when I recently saw the offer for a Pilates Class that was more than just Pilates, for an amazing low price, I couldn’t resist.

I got there early. I handed in my Groupon Voucher and filled out a standard form releasing them from any indemnity should I injure myself or die on the machines. I then made the mistake of looking at the machines. They weren’t the standard benign looking Pilates beds. These looked like ancient torture machines - black metal, extremely long structures with ominous-looking springs and pulleys much like The Rack. And, atop the machines and milling about were some of the most gorgeous, very young, buff women who looked as if they had been weightlifting at Gold’s Gym since birth. What had I gotten myself into?

The instructor set me up on the machine and every now and then corrected my form and removed springs as I struggled. But I was in trouble and I knew it. “Lift yourself on one arm, now move your right leg over your left hip. Push and push and move and move. And turn. Now do it on the other side,” yelled the drill sargeant, er, instructor. Commands came at me faster and faster. The exercises got harder and harder. And why were there so many mirrors?

Did I actually have to look at myself in these outlandish contortions? And see all those gorgeous Miss Americas going through the paces as if they were nursery school games? The mirror had become my enemy. All I could see was my sweaty face and loose flesh jiggling with each move. When had my once firm arms grown Bat Wings?

After fifty-five minutes of grueling exercise, thirty minutes of laughing at myself, and three glasses of water, I walked over to the instructor and admitted I had probably made a mistake to join these classes. She glared at me and said, “Sorry, no refunds.”

All in all, in search of the magical youth cure, I have spent well over $800 on these supposed deals, suffered injuries, infections and deflated self-esteem. I wonder if there is a twelve-step program that could help me. And, please, let me cure my addiction to Groupons and Amazon Local deals before I see an offer for discounted cosmetic surgery. “Oy.”