Top 20 Lists

Posted: October 17, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in Uncategorized

My cousin just sent me a “20 Things That Annoy Your Bartender” list/article online which I read both eagerly and dutifully. If someone was kind enough to think of me and send something that they felt I would be interested in or entertained by, it’s the least I can do to read it and thank them.

Thank you cousin Sharon.

There are lots of these types of articles bouncing around in internet-land. I have come across several and from many different professions. Strangely I haven’t read any listing the common laments of billionaires…well, just National Review and Fox News. I suppose it is safe to say that nearly everyone who has a job has something or some-things they can gripe about. The world’s a tough place, and as I am fond of saying “The general public isn’t generally very pleasant” People are entertained by lists of grievances and gripes that cover the pitfalls of their occupation. Everyone’s got them; from the triangle player of the philharmonic to the Walmart greeter, to the cops, ambulance drivers to soldiers( Getting shot at probably trumps my annoyance at the drunks who tear up coasters and leave messes for me)…Teachers and nurses always seem to have lots to be angry or frustrated about, but I’ll bet prison guards and meter maids, on the whole, have worse jobs. Prison guards routinely have feces thrown in their faces by inmates. How does that hold up to the jerk in your office who keeps taking your yogurt from the office fridge? Yeah? I thought so. Perspective is important.

I have even written my fair share of these types of essays. I’m not so much of a list maker, which seems to be the contemporary substitute for biting satire. I guess things move too fast these days to read and analyze something. It’s much easier to burn through a list. I’d like to earn a living writing or performing comedy, or just writing. However, I am well adjusted and possess enough self honesty to realize that there is a whole new top 20 list out there for successful ( a very relative term) or at least an employed writer or comedian with the things that make it an effort to get out of bed some days and sit in front of an audience, computer screen, or if you’re particularly good and in demand; both.

Stephen King, Matt Taibi, Danielle Steele, Bill Maher, or whoever, they all have very real gripes with their jobs that some of us can only imagine, and many that we probably cant. The latter is where your average Joe say’s “Aw Poor Widdle Baby….Is ooo having twouble wif aww doze millions of dowwars for tewwing jokes?” I do it too. Nothing makes me roll my eyes so fast I am in danger of ocular injury than seeing someone like Kanye West angry with his lot in life. Kanye seems very pissed off. Somebody give him a hug, huh?

I sometimes wonder how I’d handle literary fame. How many people have pestered Stephen King to read something they wrote? “Oh your roommate liked it, well that goes to the top of Mr. King’s Must- Read List.” Stevie seems like a nice fellow, so I’m sure he takes the essays, smiles and thanks them kindly.

As interesting and apt as some of these lists about my profession are, I am always equally fascinated with the commentary that follows. Lots of people like to kvetch…significantly less like to listen to or read kvetching. It has, what I like to call a “socially short shelf life”. It’s a precarious balance. We need to purge ourselves of the frustrations of our occupation, and the ever accompanying “How clueless so many people are, and how much they suck”. Similarly we need people to listen and to commiserate or agree with us. What people really like, and probably hope for, is to actually educate others on how to behave toward their waiter/waitress, police officer, dentist, doctor, or drug dealer. This all too often becomes a “Fools Errand”. Not surprising, but that’s a favorite expression of this particular curmudgeonly author.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when reading and especially writing these essays and lists, is that those annoying behaviors that make you fantasize of shooting sprees…Well, the culprits see things very differently, and for better or worse, very, very few of them are going to change.

My best friend who also often acts as my editor, literary agent and a plethora of other thankless ( and sans pay) jobs used to be a waitress and a bartender. When I lament to her, or write a piece about the nightmare shift I had consisting of trifling old ladies or mean drunks; she gets it. I was a salesman briefly, and I’d like to think that I get it in regards to the garden variety nonsense that salespeople must contend with.

So keep pumping out those lists. I enjoy “The Bitchy Waiter” blog. He’s funny, entertaining and I can relate. And I encourage my friends and family members to keep sending them to me. At the very least it shows that you’re thinking of me, and that I’m not alone.

However, I think it would be a wonderfully emphatic exercise for us to make a list of the 20 things that drive some other occupation crazy. Yet someone you feel complains too much or has it easy at their job.

Give it a shot…and send me the list.

  1. I love the reverse: the grateful-lists. Sure, it can be entertaining to read the lists from disgruntled staff from any which profession, but it adds nothing but a smirk to my life. Practicing gratitude (and I do think it takes practicing) actually helps in dealing with life in a better way, I find.

    • I can see that Malin. It’s so much easier to complain and lament. I think many resist counting their blessings because it is frankly more difficult. Also, humor doesn’t generally come from the bad things in life. It comes from anger, fear, injustice. That is the greatest thing about humor.
      Gratitude DOES take effort, is worthwhile and is a true test of character.

      I think the lists of complaints are also a bonding exercise of sorts. People like to feel they aren’t alone.


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