First, let me apologize for the title. It's the only one I could come up with that fit. I was gonna say "P-O'd" but couldn't decide if that's how to spell it, and besides, it lost it's attitude then.
You may have noticed I haven't updated this column for a while. I couldn't decide which topic to tackle. Then..it came to me...DO 'EM ALL! I made a few notes of things I wonder about, things that get me pissed off, and things that I needed answers for..and a few things I have my own answers for, so..here we go in no particular order. (Bear in mind that many of these things may be specific to the laws of the State of Minnesota, and may not apply the same way to you). Oh, and, by the way, some of these things may really piss you off, especially if you're handicapped, old, or live on food stamps (and if you're on food stamps, what are you doing with a computer anyway?). Don't flame me, just send your constructive thoughts, and convince me I'm wrong.
Handicapped Parking. What's the deal here? How many public service announcements have you heard, articles have you read, the general theme of which is "Hire the handicapped. We can do it all" Maybe. As long as we can park right in front! Now don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against the handicapped, or disabled, or whatever is politically correct these days, but come on! Does the guy in the high powered electric wheel chair, with a top speed of about 25 MPH really need to park 20 feet from the front of the store? Hell, he doesn't even get it into second gear before he's running over the Wal-Mart greeter. "Welcome..welcome...welcome to Wal- "swoosh". Sure, I'll agree that persons with those chair lifts on their vans need bigger spaces to get those babies outta the van. Great. Lets sprinkle those spaces throughout the lot. Just because they're in a wheel chair doesn't mean they can't roll through the lot. How about the mom with 5 kids, wearing those 5 inch heels..she doesn't wanna walk through the entire lot either. Heck, the other day I saw a car with handicapped plates in one of MY spaces. Cripes, they get their own spaces..and then take one for ME! Now, I don't know about you, but I've NEVER seen ALL the handicapped spaces filled! If you can't make it in from the car, how the heck are you gonna shop a huge Wal-mart anyway?
What about those handicapped stalls in the public restrooms? Am I allowed to use one? Conversely, I don't expect to see the guy with the parking sticker on MY toidey! What if ya REALLY gotta go, and all the non-handicapped stalls are occupied..are you suppose to feel guilty using the handicapped stall? What if you're in there, and some handicapped cat rolls, or limps in. Are you expected to give up your seat?
Tampons. What's the deal here? I've got a wife and three daughters. Often, I get "that" call at work. "Please pick up some (insert name of feminine hygiene product here) on your way home". OK. What kind? What? Super absorbent, for heavy days, with wings, extra long, deodorized?" Like I'm gonna remember that! I arrive at the store, and am greeted by a WALL of product. By now I've forgot what I was after. But there's always a gal there making her selection, and I always strike up a conversation. "Hi. Which ones are best?" "huh?" "Which ones are best? Do these really sop it all up?" What do you recommend?" After a minute or so, they're so embarrassed, I've got the aisle to myself. I've campaigned my female house mates to all select the same brand between them, to make these trips easier, but not a chance.
Then...I get to the check out, usually with a few other products, and I discover there's NO sales tax on feminine hygiene products! Now..wait just a minute here! There's tax on toilet paper. Tax on diapers. Tax on Kleenex. Why is it the ladies are exempt from paying tax? It appears to be another form of discrimination against men! My state senator didn't even know this was the case, and when queried, he was at a loss to explain it. Now, granted, I like not having to pay a tax whenever possible, but then lets make it across the board. No tax on anything that has to do with normal bodily functions!
Plastic Bags. What's the deal here? I go to the grocery store. I buy a cart of stuff. The bag boy loads up the plastic bags. Turns out I get about 20 plastic bags, many of which have two or three items in them. What's the point? The same groceries would have fit in 3 or 4 paper bags, and when I was done with them, I'd have some REAL bags left. Bags that can be used to wrap packages, line the bird cage, be made into handy school book covers, or any of a zillion other handy purposes. What am I gonna do with those crappy plastic bags? Well, maybe I could use 'em to dispose of those untaxed feminine hygiene products from the paragraph above. I'm making myself a big button to wear to the store that says "Paper Please". I hate those darn plastic bags, and it's just another way we're finding to use way too much product, made from plastic!
As long as we're at the store...what's happened to Glass Bottles? If you're old enough to remember, pop and milk tastes much better out of a GLASS bottle. Peanut butter is better out of a glass jar. The bottles were a snap to recycle. Just run 'em through the sterilizer, fill 'em up, and off you go. In fact, I've just learned that we have a local dairy that actually delivers milk to your home..in GLASS bottles! They pick 'em up, and refill 'em too! The answer is obvious..business said.."we can increase the profit even MORE with these cheep, plastic containers". " Plus, think of the $$ we can generate melting them down and making them into new ones! What a great way to make people think we're actually recycling something." I specifically shop for products in glass, and not over packaged. Like chips in a bag filled with air, twice as big as the product needs. The reason? Bigger shelf presence. That bag of Dorito's looks pretty good there in it's glorious 15 inch high bag. Too bad the chips only occupy about 7 inches of that bag. it's all in the battle for the buck, and it's gone too far! (See previous "Droppings" for more thoughts on marketing).
What's with these Senior Citizen discounts? Why is this even legal? Talk about age discrimination! "Well, they're on a fixed income" I hear you scream. Yup, sure are. Some of 'em fixed all right. Huge bank accounts. $40,000 RV's in their specially built garages. Park Avenues in the driveway. Investment property. Pensions. Investments. Paid for houses. Then, there are those trying to scrape by on social security. Living in one room dives. Eating dirt. Watching one fuzzy channel on a 1957 black and white TV set. Gee..just like those in any other age group. Some are loaded, some are struggling...so..we give em ALL a discount?!?!? How about the "family of 6, struggling to get by with both mom and dad working, and the kids eating macaroni everyday" discount? How about the "average white guy working at the gas station making $5 an hour while paying support for a kid he isn't even sure is his, but he'd find out if only he could afford the test" discount? How about just a "house full of kids" discount? After all, they've got enough trouble figuring out how to pay for their kids braces, let alone everything else! Let's give EVERYONE the discount!
Everyone is complaining how things like the Food Stamp program has gotten out of hand. The answer is so simple it's no wonder our out of control law generating government can't figure it out. Make food stamps similar to the W.I.C. program. For those of you unfamiliar with the WIC program, let me clue you in. WIC stands for Women, Infants and Children. It's a program to ensure good nutrition for moms and kids with lo income, who otherwise might not eat well. Each WIC certificate is good for specific food items. Certain high food value foods are approved only. Mostly milk, cereals, peanut butter, etc. Food stamps should be the same way. Good for specific food items and nothing else. After all, the recipient is starving. Can't get by. Needs the bare minimum to survive on. After all it's YOUR tax money that is buying their food. Food stamps should be good for things like nutritional cereal (none of the over sweetened crap with toys in the box), wheat bread, regular hamburger, peanut butter, margarine, milk, fruits and vegetables, and that's about it. How many times have YOU stood in line in the grocery store, watching the cart in front of you unload T-bone steaks, Ding Dongs, Dorito's, and 4 cases of Pepsi...only to watch 'em whip out their food stamps, and trot their essential food items home to prevent starvation? This works for the WIC program, it could work with food stamps. Good for specific foods ONLY. And there's no change given. The total is entered on the certificates, and that's what the store gets paid. it's pretty easy to get gas for your car and cigarettes if you're a food stamp household. Just head for the store, buy a 15 cent candy, pay for it with a$1 food stamp, get your 85 cents change, and go to the next store. In a metro area, you can find convenience stores and gas stations half a block apart, and in half an hour net enough money to buy a couple packs of smokes, gas up the car, and maybe go to the movies. Don't tell me it doesn't happen. I've witnessed it many times.
What's with these Ball Players anyway? We had a guy for our local basketball team turn DOWN a 103 MILLION dollar contract!! To play a freekin' GAME!?! Hell, there are brain surgeons saving lives that don't make that much. Here in Minnesota, our baseball team - the Twins - are trying to talk the state into building them a new stadium. Guess the metrodome just isn't up to par anymore. They suggest using TAX DOLLARS! The owner says he's losing money on the team, and a new stadium will save the team. Yeah. Right. Now, I could see it if the team was a consistent winner, and the dome was filled to capacity every game, and they needed the room for more people. But cripes, they're not even half full most of the time, so what's the point? These ball players are getting paid obscene amounts. I'm not a sports fan. But I'll bet none like buying s $5 beer at the game, to pay a player $5 million a year. I don't know how we can fix this, without getting those people claiming we're killing "free enterprise". After all, who are we to say how much a person is allowed to earn? Maybe if we all just quit going to the games. Or went, but quit going to the concession stands. We're the ones forking out the $$$ to let 'em be able to pay these huge salaries. Cut it out! Professional sports is totally out of control.
Late breaking news, that I just have to comment on (refer to my column on flying for more thoughts). The Dubroff Foundation is suing Cessna and Lycomming. You may remember Jessica Dubroff? She's the 7 year old girl who was going to set a new record by being the youngest to fly across the continent in a plane. She was doing this with her flight instructor along as co-pilot. As you'll recall, they decided to take off from their last stop, with a very overloaded plane, in bad weather conditions including icing and wind shear. They crashed. Now the Dubroff Foundation is suing Cessna for building the plane, and Lycomming for building the engine. Keep in mind there was no mechanical failure relating to this crash. They were overloaded and the weather was bad, but apparently, to stay on schedule, and get maximum media exposure, they decided to stay on schedule and take off anyway. Why not sue the guy who upholstered the plane seats. Maybe sue the guy who owned the land where they crashed, for having the nerve to have land under them. The guy who laid the airport tarmac, and why not sue the Almighty Himself for creating the very AIR they were to fly in!! This is absolutely insane. Beyond any normal persons comprehension. But there's a lawyer who took the case, a court who will hear it, and your tax dollars being spent to facilitate it. Will the public ever again be willing to take responsibility for their own actions? Not as long as courts keep giving tons of money to stupid lawsuits like this! Keep in mind, also that in this case, the parents were accused of forcing their young daughter into this project, so they could reap the fame and cash in on their famous daughter. Bottom line is, if they win any cash at all, it's going to increase my cost of flying. The cost for Cessna to build planes, and Lycomming to build engines will go up, hence the price of the plane, the cost of the rental, and the cost of the insurance. Bottom line is, the Dubroffs shoulda asked ME before they embarked on this project, and I woulda told 'em they were NUTS!
Amsoil (a synthetic motor oil manufacturer..in fact, the first and best) for which I am a dealer, pulled their aviation oil from the market. Nothing wrong with the product. Never even a minor mishap. No mechanical troubles at all. The cost of the product insurance was cost prohibitive, so they pulled it. A great product, no longer on the market, because litigation crazy people have got the insurance companies so scared, that it's almost impossible to produce anything anymore. The logic? Lets say, a plane crashes due to pilot error. For the argument, maybe the pilot was buzzing his girlfriends brothers farm, wasn't paying attention, clipped a power line, and cart wheeled through the barn. Didn't die, but wound up a paraplegic. First of all, he'd get the good parking spaces. But, he sued the plane manufacturer, because without their plane he'd never have been flying. He sues the motor maker, because with out the motor, the plane wouldn't fly. He sues the OIL COMPANY because without oil, the motor wouldn't run, the plane wouldn't fly, he wouldn't have crashed, and he'd have to be fighting ME for a parking space. See how this happens? Then, the insurance company, to save the thousands of dollars they'd spend in a court case (even if they WON), would make a nice out of court settlement. He accepts, and now 20 years later, drives his new RV to the store, parks in front, and gets his senior citizens discount!
Till next time, hang loose, and don't let it all get to ya