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Right in my Own Backyard - Things That 'Get Under My Skin' - by Brandt Carter
posted: Sept. 07, 2023

Right in my Own Backyard header

Things That 'Get Under My Skin'

Pet peeves have nothing to do with my wonderful pets. No, they are the annoyances I bump into from time to time. Did you know the word "peeve" was first used in 1919, derived from the 14th century word "peevish" meaning ill-tempered or ornery?
I suspect my pet peeves stem largely from my early training in etiquette and are conditioned by how actions affect others. They probably reveal a generational bias as well. Today I see things that would have been "verboten" in my formative years. So I'll share my Top Five irritations and wonder how they stack up with things that bug you:
  • Men wearing baseball caps in restaurants. Somewhere along the way the courtesy of doffing one's hat indoors or tipping it as a salutation seems to have become lost in the shuffle.
  • RSVP - we see this frequently on invitations, but all too many people fail to recognize that event planners really, really do need a reply with attendance intentions and by the requested deadline.
  • Cell phone users who yak away in restaurants, elevators, and stores. I'm really not interested in their conversations and am further annoyed by how loudly they usually are speaking.
  • Automated phone trees that pretend to offer customer service when they're really complicating efforts to make contact. I can't say how frustrating it is to have to click through a succession of directives only to finally come to a dead end or run out of time for what should have been a quick call.
  • Restaurant wait staff asking if I need change when I pay the bill. I want to retort, "Did you need to be paid?" I think it's time to flag this presumptiveness so restaurant managers and owners can set corrective policies.
Okay, my list could go on and on to include speed bumps, litterbugs, careless smokers, boring Christmas letters, inane blogs, employers who never answer job seekers, dogs being allowed to roam freely, drivers who tailgate, yahdah, yahdah, yahdah. I'd be surprised if this venting doesn't get you going with your own list of pet peeves some of which may duplicate mine and others that may be distinctly your own.
While I hope my pet peeves are not enough to get me branded as an ill-tempered complainer, I do wish they could be part of a societal movement to prompt some changes. Hopefully if peeves annoy enough people, we can inspire some reforms that make our world a little better place.

Brandt Carter, artist, herbalist, and naturalist, owns Backyard Birds at 2374 E. 54th Street. Visit her web site Email your bird questions to
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