This stuff makes me want to scream

Karen’s Corner

By Karen Barkstrom

I’ve been struggling with a subject to write about this month. I started several different columns, but nothing seemed to gel. Then one night on my way home from work, I found myself muttering under my breath about rude drivers — and it dawned on me.

I should write a column about stuff that drives me crazy.

1. Rude drivers

■ People who don’t pull over for emergency vehicles. I can’t tell you how often I’ve been driving down Wishkah or Heron and I see (and/or hear) a fire truck, ambulance or police car coming up behind me. I pull over and am amazed at the number of vehicles that zoom past me, totally ignoring (or maybe not even noticing) the emergency vehicle coming up on them. I think they ought to send a police car or two along with firetrucks and ambulances, and those officers’ only job is to ticket people who don’t respond to the sirens and flashing lights.

And then, after the emergency vehicle has gone by, people behind me won’t let me merge back in from the side of the road. What’s with that?

■ I think I’m pretty good about letting people merge in front of me — places like F Street in front of the Breakwater, or the side streets alongside Burger King. But more and more often, the drivers will take advantage of the space I allow them — but never make eye contact, wave to acknowledge my presence or even mouth “Thank you.”

Now I do remember our very wise neighbor in Ballard who used to say, “You should never expect to be thanked for doing a favor for someone, or you’re doing it for the wrong reason.” Sounds good, but it still ticks me off when they don’t acknowledge me.

■ Drivers who zoom by when it says “lane closed ahead.” I must admit they probably get through the slowdown a couple minutes faster than I do and I guess that’s really important to them.

A while ago when they were doing all that construction along State Route 12 and traffic was merging into a single lane in each direction, we watched a semi truck drive right down the middle of the two lanes so no one could get past them. You could practically see the steam rising from some of those drivers who couldn’t sneak around. I loved it!

2. People and their cellphones

I read on Facebook lately: “Cellphones make it so easy to stay in touch with people far away. Just make sure they don’t make you lose touch with people close by.”

I give my kids a bad time on those rare occasions when we all get together for a meal. I look around the table and most of them are looking down at their laps, reading or sending a text. I can’t imagine something is that important that it demands immediate attention.

I do have to confess that, on the rare occasions I do have my husband’s phone in my hand and the notification comes in for an incoming message, it’s very hard not to respond right away.

But really — turn your cellphones off or at least silence them when you’re out with a group — especially if I’m in that group!

3. Dogs in front seats/ grocery stores/restaurants

Don’t get me wrong: I am a dog lover. One of the reasons I enjoy my nightly walk around our cul de sac is the opportunity to make a fuss over all the dogs who live in the neighborhood. But canines do not belong on your lap when you’re driving (talk about a distraction!), or riding in the grocery cart, or in your arms in a restaurant. I’m not talking about legitimate service animals — they are welcome everywhere their owner goes. But otherwise, dogs need to stay home or in the car (if it’s not too hot) while their people run their errands.

I actually saw a man walking two large Labradors up and down the aisles in the grocery store the other day. No vest or identifying collar indicating they were service animals. I guess I should have been grateful they were on leashes.

I could go on and on — my husband says I have a ton of pet peeves, things that make me want to scream. He’s probably right, so for now we’ll just consider this Chapter 1.

Karen Barkstrom, The Daily World’s editorial assistant, can be reached at 360-537-3925 or