I suspect everyone has something that gets up their humph.
Something that is not necessarily important or significant, but which nevertheless manages to irritate or even to annoy.
They’re known colloquially as “pet hates” but if you have one, there is nothing “pet” about them.
It’s the sort of thing that family and friends will know that if they get you get started on, whatever it is, you will trap them there for the next half hour at least.
At least, I hope that happens to other people because it happens to me.
I suspect it does because I have been with people who have gone off on one simply because the waiter or waitress in the café has said “Are youz ready to order?” Others have apoplexy when they find a split infinitive buried in the depths of an otherwise harmless paragraph. The other half gets annoyed when golfers don’t even acknowledge him when he politely waits for them to take a shot before he walks across the public footpath across the golf course.
So what is it that winds me up?
It has changed over the years. The button being pressed these days is a relatively new button. It has probably come about because I have been doing a little bit more travelling in the recent past. I am not, however, thinking of all those who take two massive pieces of hand luggage on a flight and put them in the overhead locker before anyone else does. Neither am I thinking of those who cram their jackets up there instead of under the seat in front – though these things do come pretty close.
My bug bear right now consists of all those drivers who never bother to indicate.
There. It’s out.
Usually it’s men who are the culprits (but not always) and who, for some reason, think everyone else on the road should intuitively know when they are, for example, about to pull out to overtake or which exit they are taking from a roundabout.
The car in front of them doesn’t appear to need to know these pieces of valuable information – not with any certainty anyway – and neither do any of the cars following.
Then once the manoeuvre is completed, back the car pops, still with no signal.
Perhaps they’re worried about the bulbs wearing out? Like those who drive in thick grey cloud and rain with no headlights on. Or with the faintest glimmer of sidelights.
Ok, so I have two pet hates. But they’re related!
Both are about consideration and safety for the individual road users and for those who happen to be sharing the tarmac with them.
If I was to be brutally honest however, I would have to admit it is a pretty futile thing to get uptight about, since all you can do is tell the dog, once again, how selfish some drivers are and while the dog always does listen, I am not sure it is in his power to be able to right the terrible wrongs he hears his owner wittering on about.
The thing is, pet hates are nothing more than a distraction. They suck up your attention and inflate your sense of righteous indignation about what is not, in the grand scheme of things, all that important. What matters far more are all the millions of other things that deserve our time and our thought and our energy.
While I get on moaning away about other drivers, I am not thinking about how considerately I happen to be driving. I am not giving any consideration as to whether my journey is actually necessary. Could I do it in a more environmentally sustainable way by public transport? Or could I help someone else out by offering them a lift? Could I do several things at once and save on multiple trips?
It is always so much easier to criticise others than it is to take stock of your own situation. Human nature is like that. It probably means that even if I set this particular bug bear aside right now, I will probably go on finding things to bug me ‘til the day I die.
The least I can do when I feel a rant coming on is acknowledge that it is ‘just’ a rant and get it over with quickly. I think the family might be shouting “Hallelujah!” right now.
But perhaps I need to do one more thing when I am tempted to get on my high horse. Perhaps I should check to see if the high horse is masking something far more important that I really do need to spend some time addressing.
Life is too short not to tackle what matters. Especially what matters for others.
The Right Rev Susan Brown is minister of Dornoch Cathedral and the former moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland