You're not alone.
Maybe it was the Starbucks guy who asked me if I wanted any water in my coffee. Maybe it was the gorgeous mother who lifted her blouse in a Whole Foods Market to allow her three-year-old to play squeezey-slappy with her breasts. Maybe it was the guy talking loudly about circumcision at the next table, over spaghetti marinara. Maybe it was the caffeinated doofus who yelled, "Daughters? Daughters are cool!" Maybe it's cell phones, and directory assistance, and Kinko's, and waiters who ask, "How IS everything?" every thirty seconds. But I knew I had to write these things down. I knew I was not alone. Seems other people were also noticing the decline in intelligence, civility, kindness, common courtesy, and efficiency. Seems they were also having. . .
LESS THAN SATISFYING ENCOUNTERS WITH HUMANITY.

Hey, kids!
Do you also experience
LESS THAN SATISFYING ENCOUNTERS WITH HUMANITY?
(or LTSEWH, just to create a stupid acronym.)
 Well, then, send them to us and we'll print them right here!
(scroll down for latest.)
Just put 'em in our mailbox!
 

YOUR LTSEWH'S:
Butting in
         You know, my memory is just shot. I知 sorry. I forget that the world is a toilet, and a dumpster, and a spittoon, and an ashtray. God, no wonder I知 so bothered all the time. Most everybody else realizes these obvious things, while I知 forever worrying about ways to discreetly and benignly dispose of things that need disposing.
          Silly me!
          I知 ridiculously, anachronistically proper, that痴 all. I知 like the guy in the Extreme Fighting crowd who says, 摘xcuse me, please, the guy who buys a hundred bucks worth of groceries and then tells the clerk, 鍍hank you. I just bought $100 in groceries---why am I thanking them?
          I shouldn稚 even be writing about this as if it痴 unusual, but I can稚 help myself. I知 just constantly astounded at how alien my respect for 鍍he environment is. Even the term, 鍍he environment, amuses me. As if it is some separate thing that exists independently of humans.
          Anyhow, all this throat-clearing is about a very tiny incident, but one so big in implication that I am still reeling.
          There I was. . .
          Walking down Veteran Avenue in Westwood one delicate pre-fall afternoon. Just the usual passing parade of good citizens driving as if late for appointments with hookers. My headphones pumped Bob Dylan, my feet pushed my old bones into a good pace, my face dripped sweat.
          The cigarette butt was still smoking as it landed in front of me.
          That痴 correct, a smoking cigarette butt flew from out of the sky and dropped just short of me, on the sidewalk. I stopped. I stepped on it. I looked up. Did God smoke?
          Well, probably. But in this case, it was just a punk. 
          He was a youngish---twentysomething, I suppose---male humanoid with unkempt curly locks, requisite three-day beard, T-shirt, cargo pants. He stood in a second story window of a nondescript beige apartment building, eyeing me. He had just flicked the remains of his carcinogenic, highly addictive tube of nicotine-jazzed tobacco and chemical additives out the window of his apartment. Whether or not he was trying to hit me, I don稚 know. I spoke.
          哲ice! I said.
          His expression didn稚 change. He just walked away. He probably wondered why I had spoken at all. He probably did not differentiate between me and 都quirrel or 鍍ree. He probably had no comprehension whatsoever as to the relationship between flicking a lighted cigarette butt out the window at a passer-by and the passer-by痴 reaction.
          But as I said, he understood something that I don稚. The world is his ashtray. I just live in it.
 

TO ORDER

John Megna writes:
GIVING PEOPLE  
I recently was driving West on Highway 380 (35 mi North of Dallas,TX). 380 is a two lane road. I was driving my company van to work and I noticed a truck approaching from behind at a pretty high speed. They quickly came up and tailgated me (more like squash tailgating). I made three attempts to let them get by, pulling my van halfway off the road. They had time and room to pass but didn't.
   
They continued to tailgate about 3 more miles. I looked in the rearview mirror and noticed two men in the vehicle. I then said, "Back Off". They proceeded to pass me on the right and stop in the middle of the highway in front of me (Speed limit =70 MPH). Before I could get off the road a car had to pass us on the right.
   
They finally calmed down and started moving and I slowly followed long enough to read the following sign painted on the truck, "Thank You For Giving".
   
Even after living in LA, I could not have dreamed this one up!
 

Lea MacDonald writes:
CALLED ON THE CARPET
It was a Friday evening and my friend and I had completed the installation
of flooring throughout an entire home save for the stairway requiring carpet
to the basement. We decided to leave that for Saturday morning a job that
would take an hour or so.

I was awakened by a phone call Saturday from the owner of the business I was
subcontracting for. "Lea, can you do another job today? The other installer
didn't show up!" I said I'd do the job, but had to return to complete the
staircase of the previous job, that we'd left it thinking we'd have time
that morning. The owner agreed to stall the customer, cut my material, and
have it waiting upon my return to the store.

We completed the stairs at the previous home and picked up our material,
ready to sacrifice our Saturday to the needs of a customer. After several
minutes of trying to find a relatively close parking spot, we gathered our
tools and headed down the sidewalk toward the customer who, as it turned
out, had been waiting in the doorway of her real-estate, multiple listing
service.

She was tall with short, red hair that framed glasses set atop a bulbous
nose. She blocked our entrance as she leaned against the doorframe chomping
incessantly on an apple.

"Hello," I said politely, "we are here to install your . . ."

She stared at her apple, her mouth still chomping, "What did you do? Walk?"
She interrupted.

"Well, no, ma-am, we had to finish . . ."

She interrupted again, "What did you do? Carry the carpet here?"

I felt my blood pressure start to pique as my cohort said in an ominous
voice, "Oh ma-am, don't." He set his toolbox on the sidewalk as it had
become apparent to him we were not going to enter immediately and, knowing
me, he knew this conversation was not going to go in the direction she'd
planned.

I pressed on with the patience of a monk, "No ma-am, you see, we had to
finish . . ."

"What did you do? Make the carpet?" She asked in an indignant manner as she
continued to chomp her apple avoiding all eye contact.

It was at this point I abandoned all social decorum and niceties, not to
mention the old axiom: the customer is always right, and set about
explaining the situation in terms she could not, would not be able to
interrupt, misunderstand or ignore . . .

"F楊 you! You insignificant streak of sh-t! I don't give a f楊 if your
carpet EVER f楊ing gets installed!"

I turned and headed back toward my truck, toolbox in hand. My cohort, a
little late in following me, was given immediate instruction by me to pick
up his f---king toolbox!

The woman was left agog, apple falling from her open mouth as I briskly
left.

"Look," I heard her say in a bewildered voice, "will you please lay my
carpet?" There was a sincere note of regret in her voice.

Still reeling from anger brought about by her attempt to reprimand me
publicly for something I had no control over, I spun around, pointed my
finger and screamed, "That's more f楊ing like it!"

Bewildered, my helper had set his toolbox down once again only to receive
immediate instruction to "pick the damn thing up and follow me!"

Once in the building I again attempted to explain why we arrived late. I was
not interrupted this time.

"Ma-am, we are not the crew that was slated to install your job. We
completed our work and only had an hour's work this morning before having
the weekend to our selves. We were contacted by the owner of the carpet
company and informed that the other crew, your crew, had not shown up. He
asked if we'd be kind enough to do your job. We agreed."

A look of shame swept across her face. "Oh my God," she said, "I can't
believe I spoke that way to you. I'm so very sorry."

"No, Ma-am, I'm sorry. I should not have lost control like that. Please
accept my apologies."

"I deserved what I got, I was a bitch! I'll be right back."

We started our work. Twenty minutes or so passed when the woman appeared
with coffee and donuts' explaining it was a heartfelt peace offering. We
graciously accepted her gift while promising we'd do an exceptional job for
her.

As for the hapless souls who'd been unfortunate enough to be within earshot
of the initial exchange, they had a front row seat to a LTSEWH.

Kelly Permenter writes:

JURY DOODY
Not more that an hour ago I had a very LTSEWH at the San Diego Superior Court. To understand just how agitating the situation was I should first provide a bit of background. Having just graduated from UC San Diego I have had, perhaps, a total of three weeks off in the past year. The university is demanding enough that I quit my job a year ago in order to focus my entire attention on school. Relieved that I have finally graduated (with and A- average I may add) I have decided to travel for the next few months, prepare for graduate school, and simply relax a bit.

Well this is apparently unacceptable to the civil servants working for the jury services in the Vista courthouse here in San Diego. Having just introduced us (the jury pool) to the jury process, staff proceeded to tell us that anyone needing a postponement could request one at the back desk. Since I have a flight this Saturday I thought I should probably try to arrange for a new date. This would have been my third postponement due to school, however it was specifically explained to us that this was common, that they understand everyone has unique circumstances, and that they indeed do grant third postponements but simply require one to do so in person. Sounds reasonable, does it not?

The conversation with the she-devil employee was thus: I explained that I had a flight in five days and would be willing to serve on a jury for that duration. When are you coming back, she said in a tone as if I had committed some grievous error. I told her I wasn t sure. Who s your employer, again in the same manner. I replied that I had just graduated and that I didn t yet have an employer. We only grant short durations to employed individuals. Since you are not employed you do not have any bills, since you do not have any bills serving in a jury will not cause you any hardship, since serving will not be a hardship you have no reason for postponement. I paraphrase, but this amazing assumption was nearly exactly what I was told. I replied that I did indeed have bills, yet she cut me off to say Do you have your summons? I did, and she took it like it was her property that I had stolen from her. She typed my badge number into a computer then let out a big sigh when she discovered my two earlier postponements. You ve already postponed twice, you don t have a job, and you won t give a date of return for your vacation. She then jotted down a date and the number for her supervisor. If you do not arrange something you will have to explain yourself in front of a judge and probably held in contempt. Without saying anything further, she then turned her back and walked over to her printer.

Apparently our business had been concluded. Essentially I was treated as though I was amongst the scum that would be defending themselves in front of a jury and not a member of the jury itself. I was considered guilty before being proved innocent, and I wasn t even on trial for anything! All I had done was attempt to fulfill my civic obligation to participate in our government, and I was berated for it.

Alison927@aol.com writes:
MEET JOHN DOE
Lately it seems, more and more clerks have been demanding my phone number
when I try to purchase something. I usually get away with "it's unlisted" and
can just leave it at that. Recently, however, I encounted a clerk at a hardware
store where I was purchasing jumper cables. She asked for my phone number.
"Unlisted" I answered. She was flustered, and it took what seemed like a few
minutes to say, "I need your phone number to give you a warranty on your
purchase." (A warranty for jumper cables????) I answered, "It's OK. I don't need
a warranty. If the cables don't work, I'll return them right away with the
receipt."

This sent her over the edge. She punched some keys helplessly, and said, "it
won't let me do it without a phone number." I waited a bit while she punched
more keys, hoping that she would have enough sense to put in a bogus
telephone number, just to make the cash register happy. Since she did not have any
sense, I finally said, "OK, my number is 772-555-1212." Obviously I wasn't the
first person with this idea, because when she entered this number a name came
up. "OK, great! John Doe. You're already in the system."

"Yes" I answered, "I am John Doe." I was finally able to shell out my
$9.99 and leave the store with a pair of jumper cables.

Linda Wilson writes:
CHEER DOWN
Now that you've got me thinking about less than satisfying encounters.....have you ever noticed how exceedingly nice grocery (Von's, Ralphs) store staff are to everyone now, to the point of nausea? At my local Vons, customer service has elevated itself almost to the level of harassment between "Do you need help out with this today, Ms. Wilson?" as they hand me my single bottle of wine...to "Thank you, Ms. Wilson, you saved $6.86 today" (when I know that little Vons card didn't save me squat) ....to just walking through produce and having to chat with the impossibly cheery guy stacking oranges as to how I am today. There was one really obnoxious checker who I think was trolling for some action because some of the questions he would ask as he was scanning my tequila and lime juice bordered on the personal and were kind of creepy. He's not there anymore. I bet they got rid of him. Since I have to have so many conversations with strangers in my work, I really don't enjoy having to chat people up in my off hours.....Does that make sense?

Where I can use that kind (of service) is Home Depot, where you can never find anyone to help. Those orange-vested guys are always walking fast somewhere but are really hard to flag down...That's my rant for today. It happens whenever I buy a new book.......

Gabe writes:
CIGARETTE NAZI
Not sure if it's a new store "law" or just stupidity. Our local IGA started to ask everyone for ID before they would sell you cigarettes.I'm 61, bald on top with a silver half crown, a little wrinkled with glasses, but in good physical health. I'm told I don't look my age, but I certainly don't look under 19, the legal age for cigs and alcohol. The girl behind the counter knows me by name, yet, I have to produce my driver's license every time before she hands me the cigarettes. No other store anywhere within 10 hours' driving distance does this. This includes any other IGA store in the vicinity.

Carl Desserich writes:
LTSEWH in Paradise
My sweetheart and partner in life and I were on an incredible two-week
camping odyssey through the Pacific Northwest this past summer, and were
having a great time away from the usual jerks and a-holes of both sexes one
encounters in and around the seething hornet's nest of ignorance,
indifference and competitive aggression which has become the norm anywhere
the public gathers in Southern California, especially the last 25 years. We
were at a very special, beautiful and fragile place in Washington's Olympic
National Park called Hoh Rain Forest, where the cool August raindrops were
shimmering in the intermittent sunshine trying its best to fill the empty
spaces between the huge, lush ferns, rhododendron and giant moss-covered
pines.

We were traveling with our two dogs and best pals Halee and Athena,
and as the middle-aged experienced outdoorsman/woman that we are and as
environmentally-sensitive individuals, we know written park rules and the
unwritten rules of the wilderness areas ahead of time, before we take to the
trails. We are both the types of people who go out of our way to accommodate
others with consideration and kindness, so we're always disappointed and
sensitive to the unthinking and downright insulting things that come out of
people's mouths, especially when you haven't done anything to deserve
assaults on your now-vacation-healed psyche.

As we approached the large signboards with information on the park's features, a couple I'd say were in their mid-60s, physically fit and very clean cut and rigid in pace and gait
emerged from one of the park's groomed rain forest trails. We had Halee and
Athena on their government-mandated no-longer-than-six-foot leashes, and
were in perfect compliance with the rules, standing reading the myriad
pieces of posted literature next to the parking lot. Never mind that we were
relaxed and happy to be in this magical place with the light raindrops now
dotting my eyeglasses as I faced the wind.

Then the silence was broken."DOGS ARE NOT ALLOWED ANYWHERE ON THE TRAILS" came the mechanical and almost-caustic bark from the male part of the purposefully-striding couple.We knew this days ago and it was posted everywhere. "They're not" came the abbreviated and calm reply from sweet and petit Deb, who's almost too
patient with rude people compared to me, large-boned 6-foot-one and 210
pounds, and I responded, almost in shock, with a simple "nope" to his rude
delivery of information regarding the obvious. "Goddamnit!" I later told
Deb, I should have said "no s--t you mother---king c-----ing genius, did
you figure that one out all on your own?!" or some other crude,
out-of-bounds and shockingly caustic comeback, as I could feel my Southern
California-bred sidewalk rage and blood pressure rise. "You didn't need to
do that, hon" she said, reassuring me that my non-lethal comeback was
sufficient for jerks like him.

The magical place I had achieved in my peaceof mind, in this quiet magical rain forest place far from home and most of humanity, was now shattered and I hadn't returned fire with an adequately self-satisfying response. Just like how I avoid road rage nowadays at all
costs, you're still left with the adrenaline rush. I look at it this way:
I'm glad I didn't add further to the daily human noise pollution in this
wonderful place.

Lee Altmar writes:
BIKE WRATH
I know what you mean about others owning the places everything. I constantly find myself thanking people for allowing me to drive on their freeways, park in their parking lots, and walk on their sidewalks.

I'm sure I'll have more, but here's one that has bothered me for years. I ride my bicycle on a lot of bike paths. Technically, these are vehicle right aways (a bicycle is a vehicle) with the same rules as a road, such as pedestrians should walk facing traffic. I'll be riding along and there will be someone ahead of me, walking in the same lane, not only with their back to me, but also with headphones or earbuds on, so they don't know that I am approaching. Usually what happens is that as I move into the other lane to pass them, they suddenly become aware of me and react in a startling manner, sometimes actually jumping right in front of me so I have to swerve drastically. It's even worse with there are two or more people - the spread across the path and expect me to ride on the shoulder.

As stated earlier, the rules dictate that they should be walking facing traffic. Even without the rule, you would think that after one or two of these incidents, they would realize that they are safer walking so they can see the silent, speeding bicycle come at them instead of sneak up behind them. But no, they continue putting themselves and others in danger. Of course, since it's their bike path, I should just be happy they let me ride on it.

Floyd Kucharski writes:
CUTTING REMARK
Last week I went for a haircut. My usual barber was on vacation, so I tried someplace new, a tidy little shop located on the corner.

I looked around as I entered the shop and noticed that the barber was a fat little guy with a complexion that looked like warm vanilla ice cream.

He had a customer so I sat down to read a magazine.

"Do you have a 1:15 appointment?" I heard somebody ask. I looked up at the little barber, who again asked, "Do you have a 1:15?"

I glanced at the wall clock and it read precisely 1:15. "Huh? An appointment? No, I don't have one. But I can wait," I replied, and went back to my magazine.

"Well actually, we all full, booked all day," said Mr. Vanilla. So I rose from my chair, replaced the magazine, and quietly left.

On my way out the little man added "I HATE TO THROW YA OUT, BUT THIS IS A BARBER SHOP (!), YA KNOW!"

Rip, I don't know what I could possibly have done to make him so damn angry, and I can't imagine a little vanilla pud like him throwing me out of anywhere.''

Guess I'll have to chalk this one up to LTSEWH.

GOT AN LTSEWH?
PUT IT IN THE MAILBOX AND WE'LL PRINT IT:


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