Welcome, dear readers. This is the first of what I hope will be a semi-regular column, given that most weeks I can usually find things that have irritated me enough to want to share them with HBS as a whole. For this inaugural edition, I begin with the theme of travel.
Why is there no terminal D at Logan? You drive past A, B and C and then there is E (my favourite) the international terminal. I’m not sure if this is an error in planning or the result of dyslexia on the part of the terminal naming committee, but if one has chosen to be frugal and get to the airport via the silverline T, and happens to be slightly sleepy given it is 6 in the morning, it can cause great confusion. Luckily on my recent travels I had the benefit of an extremely wonderful and generous housemate to drive me to the airport, but it still bugged me, up until the next great annoyance.
What do you mean I have to put my extremely small tub of lip balm and mini tube of hand cream in a Ziploc bag? Why do the Ziploc bags never close properly? Why is it easier to tell whether my laptop is a bomb or not if it is in a separate tray? Why do the signs say to take off your shoes and belt and then everyone stares at you like you’ve grown an extra head if you actually do start disrobing in the line for the X-ray machine? Why am I always stood next to the idiot who can’t understand how the process works and needs to be practically strip-searched before he remembers that he has his cellphone in his pocket? Not that there is much point hurrying through security because.
Bad retail environment
At London Heathrow there are gourmet food shops, an oyster bar, decent stores such as Paul Smith, Agent Provocateur and Bulgari and a selection of bars to while away the four hours that your flight is delayed. In Boston Logan there is a Starbucks, a bar serving very bad nachos and a bookstore. Where is that famous American consumer culture when you need it?
They get their food first on the flight. It always looks nicer than mine. They get to feel smug about not murdering animals. They just annoy me, OK?
People who are visiting ‘Europe’
Europe is a continent, not a country. If you are visiting France, you are visiting France, not Europe. Why are you visiting France anyway, it’s full of French people?
While we’re on the topic, people from England are English, not British. English is a word which describes things that are from England, like the language Americans try to speak – and why try to call it ‘American English’? That makes about as much sense as calling a language ‘German French’ or ‘Canadian Swahili’. You can call Scottish or Welsh people British if you want, but don’t try it with the Irish as they will get upset.
People who assume it always rains in London
And therefore assume that the reason I am moving to San Francisco is purely for the weather. I was in London for five days and it didn’t rain once, so there. I get back to Boston and its raining. I hate rain (see below)
The thing that really pisses me off about rain is that it severely restricts my choice of footwear. Walking to campus in the rain means no flip flops, no sandals, no high heels and (as I found out today) no little ballet pumps that look waterproof but in fact are not. I refuse, however, to go with what seems to be the latest absurd trend.
Brightly coloured ‘trendy’ rubber boots.
‘Wellies’ as they are called in the UK, are a functional item to be worn as a child when jumping in puddles, as a farmer surveying your fields, and for muddy days at the Glastonbury festival. They are not meant to be covered with garish designs and worn indoors over jeans as some kind of fashion statement. They look bloody ridiculous, are unflattering and I’m certain they must make your feet all sweaty if you wear them all day. If that’s fashion I’ll stick to my impractical little ballet pumps and accept that I am not a trendsetter.
People who walk slowly
This is in here because I notice it much more in London than anywhere in America, which is why it is on my mind at the moment. The reason I notice it more there is that hardly anyone in America actually walks anywhere, preferring to start up their off-road SUV to drive from OWA to Shad because its raining. In any case, there should be an overtaking lane on the sidewalk, or at the very least legislature permitting anyone in a hurry to plead extreme vexation as an excuse for physical retaliation against anyone who stops for no reason in the middle of the street and then glares at you when you walk into them. At the very least, an angry shoulder-barge should be permissible.
While I am on the topic of things that are better in the UK (I could go on at length, and probably will in future issues, but this will do for now), American live comedy appears to have two topics. Racial stereotypes and dating.
The first is the sole comedy topic of anyone who can claim to be any kind of racial minority, which seems to include people who have one Irish grandfather, are Canadian, or whose parents once went to India. Apparently being from one of these ‘minorities’ entitles you to make racist jokes about your ethnic group, all other ethnic groups, and white Caucasians of all kinds.
If you are a female comedian, you will talk about dating, dieting and the size of your ex-boyfriend’s penis. If you are a white male comedian with no discernible foreign blood you will talk about how awful your girlfriend/wife/other female acquaintance is, how she takes a long time to get ready and how you always tell her she looks fine in whatever she is wearing just to get out of the door.
On the other hand, nearly every comedian in the UK will make jokes about Americans, and will invariably put in something about how it is stupid to call that big baseball competition the ‘World’ Series when it is only between American teams. Until recently I was keen to inform them in a superior fashion that the title actually stemmed from the fact that the Series was originally sponsored the ‘New York World’ newspaper, but it has been recently pointed out to me that this in an urban myth, and actually it is the world championship because no other nation plays the stupid game anyway. Not that I ever let facts get in the way of feeling superior.
So there we have it, my first list of things that really (as we say in England) get my goat. Rest assured, there will be more to follow next week.