Adrian Chamberlain: Dealing with annoyances means late nights out

There are some things in life one is forbidden to complain about, even though they're horribly annoying.

What a shame that is. Surely, in a democratic society that espouses free speech, one should be allowed to beef about anything. Isn't that what North America is all about? Think of all those Republicans moaning about President Obama's re-election and threatening to move to Canada.

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Here's a good example of something one cannot complain about: crosswalk guards.

Don't misunderstand - I like everything the crosswalk guard stands for. Volunteering to get drivers to slow down so school children avoid injury is a good and noble thing.

But here's the thing. Some crosswalk guards are, in my experience, way too aggressive. They've become drunk with the traffic-calming power invested upon them by school authorities. Even if you slow down and stop in the correct manner, they frown and wave their stop signs disapprovingly. Sometimes, they'll even point to their sign and mouth the word "stop."

Which is redundant if your car is not moving.

Yet one cannot complain about this misplaced crosswalk-guard zeal because ... well, it's a crosswalk guard. Any criticism of their tribe is absolutely taboo. It's like saying, "Sure, Mother Teresa was well intentioned, but her fashion sense was abysmal." Try it. You'll see. (Crosswalk-guard criticizing, I mean, not the Mother Teresa thing.) I brought up crosswalk guards once at a party, and suddenly my wife announced it was time to go home.

Here's another one. Do people constantly approach you to sponsor them for fundraising activities? Pretty annoying, isn't it?

This happens to me continually. People are always biking or running for good causes. And they want your money.

Most of the time, we have no choice but to donate. Otherwise you become the bad guy. A work colleague is raising funds to help Truman, a stray rescue dog. Truman requires lifesaving surgery, because something funny has happened to his colon. Sarah McLachlan is all upset about it. We cannot refuse Truman. Especially because he's a "rescue dog" - currently the two most wallet-opening words in the English language.

Meanwhile, at the grocery store, they'll ask you to donate $2 for breast-cancer research. Who can say no?

Who can say, "I'd rather not support breast-cancer research, because I really want to buy some Winter-fresh gum."

Here's something else I suspect annoys many people, but due to the niceties of social convention, we cannot complain. It's those people who put their kid's art on display at work.

Unless your child is Akiane Kramarik, the gifted child prodigy (who sold a self-portrait for $10,000), it is best to keep such artworks at home. Trust me. That's because they're not very good. Usually the perspective is all messed up and the draftsmanship is, at best, rudimentary.

As well, children tend to use colour in a non-naturalistic way, in the manner of Fauve artists. Only they're not Fauves - they're just kids. Who has ever seen a purple tree? That's what I'd like to know. Because we all know the answer (no one, except for a colour-blind guy or something).

There's plenty of other taboo subjects. If someone dresses funny, we can't say anything. We cannot ask people how old they are after the age of 30. Or how much money they make.

I'm going along with it for now. Mostly because I like staying late at parties - and in certain cases, sleeping over on your couch. But that doesn't mean I'm happy about it.

achamberlain@timescolonist.com

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