The Grumpy Man's New Rules

I think I have crossed a certain line in my battle with aging. My kids keep saying things like, “Geez, Pop, you sound really old.”

There ought to be a law!

I smile knowingly, dismiss their petty input, and rationalize it away with, “What do kids know?”

But then the other day I put a few of my complaints down in writing, and as I glanced over the list I thought, “They may be right” – I may be on my way to “grumpy old man.”

This could be avoided if they would just let me pass some news laws and/or rules.

1. If the person in the drive-through line in front of me actually reads the menu or asks a question about a menu item that has been on the menu for 10 or 20 years, they will simply be sentenced to 10 years’ hard labor. It has been the same burgers and chicken since Skippy was a pup, people! Order and MOVE UP! People behind you only have a half-hour for lunch. If this challenge is too big, get out of the car, go inside where it’s warm, and read the menu -- which is in illegible, tiny type above the happy workers’ heads.

2. There will be no more advertising for any product people may need for anything happening below the waist, OK? The only “E D” I want to hear about is the guy named “Ed” who comes over to fix my furnace. And get those two people in the commercial with the side-by-side bathtubs out of here, as well. Who the heck would find two of those tubs -- which cost a fortune -- and drag them out in a field somewhere? And how would you fill those things anyway? If you are having enough trouble that you need that medicine, how tired out would you be after hauling enough water into the field to fill those two tubs just to watch a sunset? And then to reach out of the tub and hold hands? After all that work, there better be more than that! Let the people who need these products seek the makers out. No ads, thank you. And for crying out loud, get that baby bear and his mama out of the woods discussing the liberating qualities of non-stick toilet paper! What nearly insane ad exec thought this one up? The bear moons the audience and shows pieces of paper clinging to his cartoon fur, for Pete’s sake! “We all go,” he says. I say, “Yeah, please do. And stay gone.” That’s right: I am talking to the TV now, all right? You got a problem with that?

3. The guy who decides where the handicapped spaces go in front of every store will get numeric counseling. In a 20-space parking lot, it is not necessary to have 15 handicapped spaces and, while I’m at it, can we get the indicator lines painted on the ground to be a little more universal? I thought the striped boxes were there to accommodate a door that had to be opened wide, but sometimes there’s only one side that has the stripes? What’s the guy supposed to do? Back in? C’mon, let’s have a plan here, people.

4. It is no longer legal to say, “Have a Nice Day.” Nobody means it, and often they say it with all the expression of a nursing home worker saying, “Mr. Johnson, it is time for your 10 a.m. pill.” Just stop it.

5. Movie theater volume has to be tested by placing my father-in-law (who claims he doesn’t need a hearing aid but answers everything with, “Huh?”) into the center of the theater and having the manager yell through the speakers, “Free coffee and doughnuts in the lobby.” If he goes to the lobby, it’s too loud.

6. New cars will be equipped with a button that raises a sign that says, “Hang up and Drive.” This is written inverted so it can be seen in rearview mirrors and regular so it can pop up in the side window as you pass. When I get behind a slow-moving vehicle that is veering off the road and then pass to see someone looking down and punching numbers into their phone, I feel I should have the right to make a citizen’s arrest. “Hey man, what’s the charge?” I’ll say, “The charge is stupidity.” And I want one of those Looney Toons boxing gloves on an extendable arm things. Knock ‘em right out of their seat.

7. Text exchanges do not have to end like letters from summer camp. The ease that has been added to life by being able to leave a message and not talk on the phone is awesome, because I HATE talking on the phone. I love texting something like, “Meeting going late – home by 4 p.m.” The best response to such a text is “OK.” I love that, but no -- that’s too easy, too rude, too inconsiderate. Instead of “OK,” my bride writes, “Why?” What does she mean by that? What does she mean “Why?” Because it is! You mean I have to write out an explanation? Just say OK, and I’ll explain it in person later! Now all the efficiency of the quick text is lost, see? By comparison, if she’s running late, she’ll text me and I will respond “OK” and she will write, “Don’t you want to know why?” How can I win with this? Gotta pass a law.

8. I also want a comprehensive ban on radio commercials that tell you that only the first 50 callers responding to this commercial will get the free sample or special price. People, you hear the same commercial on the same station multiple times every day, then you hear it on other stations. So the “first 50 caller” thing is a lie and should tell you about the credibility of the product that’s being advertised! Don’t be such a pinhead! Like the “Made for TV” product commercials that say, “Wait, we’ll include a second for FREE!” Have you noticed they then say, “... just pay extra shipping.” The extra shipping charges are enormous! Therefore, the real cost of the item is not reflected in what the flashing-on-the-screen price says.

Oh man – I look over the list and I see the kids may be right. But maybe not, because I think I have been thinking about things like this my whole life, not just as I cross into my 50s.

You don’t have to be a cranky old man to expect people to think and comprehend, right? So maybe I won’t get any new laws passed, but maybe I can at least influence the first lucky 50 readers who see this article …

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at