Service of Letting off Steam

March 3rd, 2014

Categories: Food, Interviews, Pushing Buttons, Sales, Uncategorized, Writing

let off steamcalculatorVisited a friend where she works and she proclaimed that too much winter must be why everyone there was in a bad mood. A post like this helps address the blues. Writing about irritations lets off steam. It’s restorative.  

Don’t make me do the math

In a prominent newspaper I read this sentence: “The company said new technology allows one of the company’s workers to produce about 330 feet of fabric in less than an hour compared with just two meters in the 1990s.” Dear Reporter, Help me: In future convert comparables to all feet or meters please.  

Was I born yesterday?

I still get phone calls at the office that begin, “I’m calling from customer service about the copier in your office.” If legit they’d name the brand of copier. Grump.  

Want to raise my hackles/push my buttons? Say this:

“Nobody asked you to do that,” after I’ve done you a favor or something nice.  

Fat free and tasteless

Fig newtonsMy nephew popped in a gas station store to grab a Fig Newton snack and left annoyed because all they had were the fat free variety. He said that people fool themselves about benefits from eating the less toothsome alternative. “You don’t need to eat the whole box of the classic Fig Newtons,” he suggests.  

What’s that again?

When watching an interview on TV Erica Martell cringes when the interviewer answers the question for the person being interviewed and the interviewee parrots the words.  Example: Q: “You were sorry then?” A: “Yes, very sorry.”  

Media training advises the person being interviewed never to repeat the words of an interviewer. In addition to the fact that it’s irritating and boring, more important it can backfire. Take this instance. Q: “So you scammed the IRS in 2013?” A: “I didn’t scam the IRS in 2013.” A headline might be: JOE ADDRESSED 2013 IRS SCAM. A simple “no” suffices.

Royal Retirementretire in luxury

Bob Gula says he’s tired of hearing about city, state or union employees retiring on zillion dollar pensions in their 40’s with free healthcare. “They never went to college like I did,” he observes. “The greatest insult is I am the one who is paying for this with my taxes. Lesson learned: Do not go to college. Get a city or government job. Work in a job with a union.”  

What gets under your skin? Share and let me know if you feel a teensy bit better after letting off steam.

feel better now

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18 Responses to “Service of Letting off Steam”

  1. ASK Said:

    Mr. Gula, whoever you are, you hit one of my buttons…I have a relative in a boring job (she even says it’s boring), but she’s stayed all these years for the free health insurance and the pension, admittedly a good deal. But when someone puts their entire life on hold in a dead-end job, do you think they’ll really know how to enjoy that pension? Just asking…

  2. JPM Said:

    There are all sorts of pet peeves that often come to mind, but instead I’ve chosen a doozy of one for you today. It trumped all the others and won’t go away.

    Back in 1933, at the beginning of the New Deal, congress passed something called the Glass-Steagall Act. I’m over simplifying, but it kept banks which took deposits from the public, from being investment bankers (dealing with securities) and speculating with their depositors’ money. Commercial bankers hated it because it had the natural effect of both limiting how much money they could make and how big they could become. Through their lobbyists, over the years, the bankers chipped away at the act’s effectiveness and eventually, in 1998 under President Clinton, managed to get it repealed.

    Since then, we’ve had the tech bubble, the savings and loan bust, the real estate debacle, and the save the “too big to fail” big banks campaign. Cumulatively, these have cost us taxpayers more than a few trillions of dollars, yet we go on paying the bills as the Federal Reserve continues to subsidize the stock market, making the big bankers even richer.

    I will not say that we could have avoided all the bumps of a cyclical economy, but it would have been a lot smoother and less expensive ride had we had the solvent banking system, managed by conservative, albeit poorer, bankers, that we used to have when we still had Glass-Steagall around to protect us!

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I can’t speak for Bob Gula, but I’ve known people who are waiting for very healthy parents to die so that they can inherit their substantial estates, meanwhile not accomplishing much with their lives. It’s similar if not identical to your relative’s experience. I feel sorry for them.

    I selfishly chose a career route that I loved in an industry I loved. I know that the game of “what if” is tempting if unhelpful, but I’ll play. God knows what would have become of me had I been the banker my first husband wanted me to be for the far bigger salary offered at the start of my career or if later, after a brief stint at a magazine, I’d stayed in PR in a lucrative industry that didn’t speak to me. Had I survived either track, I’d be better off now but there’s a big chance that I wouldn’t have made either for long as I’d not felt passion or excitement and my performance might have been distinctly lackluster.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You didn’t say whether you felt a bit better after writing this. I’m grateful–if saddened–for the insight because I don’t see anyone taking steps to reverse the situation. Too many have too much to gain the way it now is. The fact that millions suffer as a result appears to be immaterial.

  5. Bob Gula Said:


    No one is holding a gun to her head to stay with the job. At least she is coming out ahead.

    Should a pot hole filler get $84,000.00 a year + free healthcare?

    Should a train engineer get 150,000.00 a year + 6 weeks vacation, free healthcare, fall asleep at the control, kill 4 people and probably get away with it?

    Should a police officer be allowed to retire after 20 years with staggering benefits and move to Florida to escape the taxes that allowed him to get all of this in the first place?

    No private companies offer these benefits. Things are way out of kilter.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK and Bob,

    Looking at this from Bob’s point of view, there are actors who end up in amateur or off, off, off, off Broadway productions, trying out for parts in TV shows and plays while keeping the wolf from the door by working at lackluster jobs that give them flexibility to attend tryouts.

    For all we know the relative with the boring job may have the energy to write novels at night, the time to travel and to enjoy her children which others with more challenging jobs don’t have the luxury to do.

  7. ASK Said:

    Re Bob Gula’s response: No, I don’t believe any of those “civil” servants deserves to make hay at my or other taxpayers’ expense. Or get away with murder for that matter…but to Jeannie’s point, I don’t think any of these people is going to write the great American novel either. People who lack imagination will always lack it; a pot of money won’t change that. Other relatives of mine thought they would take their generous benefits and do all the things they didn’t do while toiling away at their boring jobs…and they didn’t because they really didn’t know how. One of the reasons why I didn’t get the “government job” my mother wished I’d always get.

  8. Lucrezia Said:

    I have so many gripes that instead of going insane, I just tune them out and turn to enjoyable things. It takes discipline, but it’s worth the effort. This leaves time to deal with the serious stuff when it comes my way.

  9. Iris Bell Said:

    I wish articles referring to sums of money going back 15 years or more, would correct for inflation. It used to be done decades ago. it’s so easy to do with the Google, yet it’s now that the writers often don’t do it. $100 spent in 1990 would cost $178.97 now. $100 spent in 1980 would cost $283.88 now.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You are right about this! The impact of some stories is lost without an adjustment as you describe. At a time when a house cost $20,000 a big-time thief would take $100,000. In the day of Bernie Madoff-size theft, Sandra Bullock salaries for a film of $70 million and astronomical salaries for sports figures and corporate CEOs, $100,000 is chump change.

  11. Bob Gula Said:

    The Post had an interesting article about police pay in CASH STRAPPED Suffolk County on LI. The Detective they just hired had a salary of 227,000.00 a year. Imagine the pension and healthcare? One third of this would have been a bit much. They said taxes would need to go up $20.00
    for everyone in the county to pay for this.

    Another Police officer just ahead him at over 250,000+ Does anyone in the county protest this? They said it was higher than the governor makes.
    Are the unions gods?

    The internet had a story a few weeks ago about a port authority cop
    on 42st with a base pay of $108,000 a year but with overtime he was paid
    $264,000 a year. More than the president of the US. He is 43 years old. When the union was asked about this they responded with: What about the wall street characters who rake in millions. Ever wonder why your transit costs keep going up and why the bathrooms do not function on transportation?

    The mayor of Miami had a similar problem with the unions. People were retiring at 40 with $150,000 pensions and Miami was bankrupt. He went to court and fought hard to kill all abusive union contracts. He won the battle and put pay caps on salary and benefits. The city is coming back
    strong and business is returning. Why don’t you hear about this story? The unions do not want you to get ideas.

    There I go again, blowing off steam.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    When I read facts such as the ones you shared on the one hand I become frustrated because I feel helpless and yet you tell us about the Mayor of Miami who took steps to put a stop to the abuse and succeeded. Hooray! May that happen nationwide.

    There appears to be so much waste and cheating that I am convinced there would be far less of a deficit and enough money to help those in need without adding to the debt if watchdog agencies watched not only salary fraud but insurance and every other kind….

    There are plenty of honest people yet it’s so dangerous to be a whistle blower that few have the energy or strength to blow.

  13. Homer Byington Said:

    My g.g.grandfather, grandfather and father all had civil service jobs. They appreciated the security and benefits their jobs offered, but viewed them as doing an elite public service which was more than rewarding in itself. (They also believed that they would have been far better paid had they worked in the private sector, which, at that time, they would have been,)

    When the Foreign Service unionized in the early 1970s, my father refused to join on the grounds that public servants were public servants and as such had a duty to serve the public interest which trumped any self-interest. He was appalled at the very idea of collective bargaining and threatening strikes.

    In old age, he repeatedly told me that I had done the right thing when I resigned from the Foreign Service while still in my twenties.

  14. Nancy Farrell Said:

    I don’t like having my time wasted. On Sunday I went to a store that sells paint and wallpaper. I sat and looked at wallpaper samples for about an hour with my husband. No one said a word or offered to help us but we didn’t mind. We are in our 21st year of owning a home so we are comfortable making these decisions on our own. When we found what we wanted my husband went to the counter to order it and was told we would have to come back on Saturday to meet with a designer. The wallpaper could not be ordered until then. What? Why? We just wanted 2 double rolls of wallpaper. This is the last piece of a bathroom renovation. Everything else has been finished. What is there to design? We went home and ordered the same wallpaper online. I chose the slowest, most affordable delivery option. It arrived Wednesday, less than 72 hours after leaving the store. I expect it will be on the walls before Saturday.

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Imagine what a difficult admission it must have been for your father to make given the history of your family’s association with the Foreign Service. I fear that today not many people honor those who do the honorable thing [the Armed Forces may be one exception] if whatever it is isn’t lucrative and in some cultures, this has always been so.

  16. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I, too become infuriated when someone wastes my time.

    Your experience makes me cringe because I represented the wallcoverings industry for over 10 years and some manufacturers for almost that long.

    A business that creates hurdles for customers to buy products is making a mistake as there are so many other options. That poor industry has taken countless knocks–many of which they created. To learn that some stores place additional extraneous steps before purchase is a real head-scratcher.

  17. Nancy Farrell Said:

    Well, at least now I know I can wander in and look at the wallpaper samples on a Sunday and no one will even look up. Then I can order online when I get home (saves me a trip not having to go back to the store to pick the order up). Sorry I bothered them!

  18. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Just what the owner of the paint/wallpaper store –or any store –DOESN’T want to hear: “Sorry I bothered them.” Oh my. I wonder if the owner doesn’t come in on weekends [when many of his/her customers are free to do research]. If this is the case, it’s a big mistake!

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