Annoying (And Not)

Five things I learned about annoyances from this interesting book review:

  1. They can be biologically-based. Fingernails on a chalkboard?  That's the same audio footprint as a human scream, something to which we're trained to respond quickly.

  2. They are somewhat patterned, but unpredictable. One day I heard a high-pitched chirp from the hallway.  I poked my head out: nothing.  Every five to ten minutes, I'd hear it again -- always just once, never with any evidence as to what had caused it.  I was ready to scream by the time I saw someone close the hall door and realized it was the hinges squeaking.  Somehow, just knowing what it was helped it not to bother me as much.

  3. They are temporary. We know the annoyance will stop at some point, but we don't know when.  This makes it harder to endure than if it were for a set period or even indefinite.

  4. They can be self-reversing. Quirks of a friend or spouse, for instance, are cute at first, awful after awhile, and nostalgic during an absence.  The key is moderate exposure to any particular set of idiosyncracies.

  5. Atonal music is always annoying, whether you have perfect pitch or live in a remote African village.

Five things listed in this article that don't annoy me:

  1. Public clipping of fingernails. It makes the person doing it look silly, but it doesn't bother me.

  2. People kicking the back of my chair. I just turn around with an inquiring smile, and that tends to stop the behavior (or alert the parents, if the offender is a child.)

  3. Loud gum chewing. I kind of like the popping noises, though I've never been able to make them myself.

  4. The neighbors' muffled stereo. Our neighbors throw loud parties occasionally, but it's more amusing than annoying.  The music (traditional Hispanic) is at least festive, if not what we would have chosen for a soundtrack.

  5. Crying children. Genuine tears usually mean genuine sadness, and what kind of an ogre doesn't feel sorry for sad people?  And the adults who can't console them?

Five things that do annoy me, not all from the article:

  1. No-shows. If you change your mind about coming to my house, my wedding or my choir practice, JUST SAY SO.  I promise we will still be friends.  Most of the time you probably have a good reason.  But when you just don't show up, not only do I worry (Traffic accident?  Sudden illness?  Rapture?) I am disappointed to see that our relationship means so little to you.

  2. Bodily noises. Sometimes you can't help it, so say "excuse me" and move on.  But if you belch after every swallow of soda, wither you have a problem or you're too comfortable around me.

  3. Whining. Not just in children, although it's most common there.

  4. Loud cell-phone conversations. No surprise here.  Everyone says this annoys them, and yet it continues to happen.  ARGH!

  5. Unnecessary comments. No, not on this blog, where all comments are appreciated!  I'm talking about the people (you know them, too) who have something to say about everything.  Blitherers. And if you didn't read that story last time I linked to it, you must do so now, or risk retaliation by the Avenging Flight Attendant of Doom!