Friday, September 27, 2013

Who Do You Love and Who Do You Bug?

 Lacking any kind of muse in my life right now, I find myself in a word drought.  It's so true what they say about all work and no playIt's all about words for me, reading them and writing them. I don't arabesque, I conjugate.  I can't sing, but I can split infinitives. I'm not even able to run anymore, (my old happy place) so I punctuate instead.  But all I've got right now are a few thoughts that have evolved into a theory.  Finding the right words to share this theory has been like breaking through concrete!  This is an important theory, so I will persist and try something

This image would give the impression that pet peeves are better than wild peeves. But anyone who has pets of any kind knows that they demand time, money and a lot of tolerance.  They change your lifestyle.  Four reasons why I am not a pet person.  Sure, there's probably a study out there somewhere that says something about people with puppies living longer; but I'm OK with that.  I'd rather live 78 years NOT cleaning up excrement than 100 years picking up the poo.

And as long as we're giving this picture validity, you will notice that in the wild, the peeves are only dangerous to each other.  Why would you bring that into your home where they become dangerous to you?  And there's the problem right there.  You know it and I know it.  Pet peeves are usually rooted in the behaviors of the people we are supposed to be loving the most.  Wikipedia knows it too: Pet peeves often involve specific behaviors of someone close, such as a spouse or significant other.

But people can be irritating when you live with them!  They don't put things where they are supposed to go, they make annoying noises, and the list could go on and on!  If you can live with these irritants and just ignore them, that would be great.  But most of us can't.  So we nag, leave notes around the house, mumble under our breathe, sigh over our breathe and ever so slowly, over time, create tension and distance in our relationships.  This is bad.

This is where my theory was born.  

Whenever I adopted a pet peeve, I was basically saying this: "Something is wrong in the world and I want you to fix it for me!"  Someone left the toilet paper empty, someone left their shoes in the wrong place, someone stacked the dishes wrong!  Fix it, fix it, fix it!

Then I realized that I could remedy the situation by simply performing an act of service. By changing my thoughts I could say instead: "Something is wrong in the world and I want to fix it for you!" I will replace the toilet paper so the next person has their needs met, I will put these shoes where they belong so their owner will find them more easily, I will restack the dishes so the next person does not have to fumble around to find what they need.
 If you have a pet peeve, turn it into a chance for service.  If you don't want that many service opportunities in your life, then you may want to eliminate some of your pet peeves.  

Since I began turning my pet peeves into service opportunities, whenever I find myself thinking peevish thoughts I can actually hear myself say: "Congratulations!  You just gave yourself another chore!"  If it's really important, then I follow through with my new opportunity.  But just as often I will find myself dropping the irritant altogether; if it means making more work for myself, suddenly it doesn't seem like that big of a deal.  Whereas before I didn't even think twice about making more work for someone else.

In case you think I am being unrealistic, there are exceptions.  As a family we identified situations when someone's behavior will actually need to be modified to accommodate living with others; times when it's not just a nit-picky personal preference but a real concern.  These exceptions include anything that isn't safe, sanitary, or economical.    If it might hurt someone, make someone sick or cost us money, then someone needs to slow down and reevaluate how their habits are affecting the people around him or her and make some changes.

If you're into quiet, personal victories...give this a try.  By liberating the captive peeves back into the wild, you will be liberating yourself.


It turns out, you can be just as annoying outside of your house as in.  While researching this topic,  I came across a website dedicated to nothing but pet peeves,  domestic and otherwise.  There was an entire list of them.  Hundreds. And as it turns out, as annoying as you are at home... you're far more likely to annoy someone after you leave the house.


Granted, when I read this list it occurred to me that there is a very fine line between pet peeves and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Take these two examples:   

 "When it's raining and you turn your car off before you turn the wipers off, and they stop in the  middle of the windshield, so you turn the car back on, the wipers off, and then the car off."

"When people don't clear the microwave numbers."

  Definitely OCD.

As I read through the list I noticed a couple of peeves on there that I was guilty of perpetrating.  I had no idea they were annoying.  So I made a mental note not to do those things anymore.  But as the list went on and on and on, I began to realize that it was pointless because almost anything you do could be considered irritating to someone else. Examples: 

"The way people walk in flip flops."

"People say "carmel" instead of "caramel".


  1. I so didn't want pet peeves to become a factor for me when i was a newlywed, that made it a game. Ok, so I was the only one playing, but that also insured I always won! The point of the game was to "Out serve" my husband. I would hurry and get the jobs done before he had a chance. I would chuckle to myself and say,"Ha ha! I changed the toilet paper roll before you even noticed it was empty! Double points for me!" Now, it's more habit than the game, but it is what got me over myself and eliminated self-made contention.