Woog's World / Unleashing pet peeves of frustrated Westporters
A Westport parent wonders -- and worries -- about the new trend: mothers and fathers picking their middle school (and younger high school) sons and daughters up from parties; instead of coming to the door and actually saying hello to the hosts, they sit in the car and text their kids to come to the car.
"Proper etiquette has gone the way of the handwritten letter," this still-polite parent writes. By email.
Meanwhile, someone else complains about the "one or two" people -- on each road -- who never contribute their road association fees. Yet these deadbeats, he says, enjoy benefits like paving and pothole fixing that all their neighbors pay for.
"There's no legal recourse," he says -- unless the road association incorporates as a legal entity.
On the other hand, you don't have to invite everyone to your block party or Christmas caroling festivities, do you?
Another Westporter laments the lack of street numbers on the Post Road.
"I thought 911 regulations mandated numbers," he says. "Or do local businesses think it's declasse to put them up?" He suggests a fundraiser for a group like the Boy Scouts: selling 6-inch-tall numbers, and putting them on storefronts and signs.
Since this edition of "Woog's World" is turning into a gripefest, here's mine: sales clerks who don't know how to hand back change. Trader Joe's, Fresh Market, Bertucci's -- it doesn't matter. Clerks have gotten into the lazy habit of giving you your bills first, then awkwardly placing the coins on top of them. Money is much easier to handle if you put the coins in your palm first, then the bills on top of them.
I know why it's come to this: Sales clerks ring up the purchase, look at the register, see how much change is due, and hand it over. Back in the day, they had to do their own calculations. So if, say, someone gave you a $10 bill for $3.37 worth of whatever, you'd count it out: 3 pennies, a dime, two quarters makes $4, then a $1 bill and a $5 to make $10. It's too easy now -- and the result is a few seconds of fumbling after every transaction.
Speaking of grocery stores: The scene was Super Stop & Shop, on a busy Sunday afternoon. A woman was there with her 11-year-old daughter, close to -- but not quite at -- the checkout line.
An older woman -- well-coiffed, with jewelry -- approached at the same time. She said, "Let me get my cart. I'm going to go here."
The woman telling the story -- a friend of mine -- said, "I know the value of picking your battles. But I also wanted to show my child the value of not getting picked on." She unloaded her few items onto the checkout counter.
The woman returned with her cart and said, "I thought I told you I was going there."
My friend replied, "You're rude and disrespectful, but I'll let it go this time."
"Is this Westport?" my friend asked. "Does a full cart lead to a sense of entitlement? And did I take advantage of a teachable moment with my daughter -- or did I blow it?"
How about this for a teachable moment? On Halloween -- in the aftermath of the snowstorm that cut power to thousands of Westport homes -- town officials strongly urged residents to postpone trick-or-treating until the following Saturday.
Many parents were conflicted. They'd made plans with their children; their kids were looking forward to the night -- but on the other hand, this was a governmental request, caused by safety concerns.
One woman said, "I don't care what they say. We're going trick-or-treating. I'm teaching my kids about civil disobedience."
A good lesson? Or one that will cause this mother plenty of grief a few years down the road, when her kids turn her "civil disobedience" lesson into "teenage rebellion"? You be the judge.
You never know what gets people going. One "Woog's World" reader has had it up to here with local businesses that offer "free estimates." When was the last time, he wonders, when anyone actually charged for an estimate?
Which reminds me: Aren't all gifts "free?" You wouldn't know it, judging by the ads in local papers.
The power outages after the recent pre-Halloween snowstorm had many Westporters grumbling. After nearly a week, a few Westporters still lacked electricity.
But one man had at least a tiny bit of humor -- and the ability to tie together the weather and the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests.
"I always wanted to be the 1 percent," he said. "But I didn't mean the 1 percent without power."