Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Coping with life's annoyances

Good article in today's NY Times about life's annoyances and how some people rebel or enact their revenges in little ways, whether it is against the cultural pretension of Starbucks,

When Seth Shepsle goes to Starbucks, he orders a "medium" because "grande" - as the coffee company calls the size, the one between big and small - annoys him.

or upon the annoying subscription inserts and the fact that by definition "medium" is a meaningless classification if small (and large) don't exist:

When subscription cards fall from magazines Andrew Kirk is reading, he stacks them in a pile at the corner of his desk. At the end of each month, he puts them in the mail but leaves them blank so that the advertiser is forced to pay the business reply postage without gaining a new subscriber.

"I've come to realize that I'm almost addicted to the sick little pleasure I get from lashing out at these things," said Mr. Kirk, 24, a freelance writer from Brooklyn who collects and returns magazine inserts.

When ordering a pizza from Domino's, Mr. Kirk says he always requests a "small," knowing that he will be corrected and told that medium is the smallest available size. "It makes me feel better to point out that their word games aren't fooling anyone," he said.

My particular favorite is the case of Wesley A. Williams who...

...spent more than a year exacting his revenge against junk mailers. When signing up for a no-junk-mail list failed to stem the flow, he resorted to writing at the top of each unwanted item: "Not at this address. Return to sender." But the mail kept coming because the envelopes had "or current resident" on them, obligating mail carriers to deliver it, he said.

Next, he began stuffing the mail back into the "business reply" envelope and sending it back so that the mailer would have to pay the postage. "That wasn't exacting a heavy enough cost from them for bothering me," said Mr. Williams, 35, a middle school science teacher who lives in Melrose, N.Y., near Albany.

After checking with a postal clerk about the legality of stepping up his efforts, he began cutting up magazines, heavy bond paper, and small strips of sheet metal and stuffing them into the business reply envelopes that came with the junk packages.

"You wouldn't believe how heavy I got some of these envelopes to weigh," said Mr. Williams, who added that he saw an immediate drop in the amount of arriving junk mail. A spokesman for the United States Postal Service, Gerald McKiernan, said that Mr. Williams's actions sounded legal, as long as the envelope was properly sealed.

Some anthropological perspective is provided by Prof. James C. Scott, who it seems is not above such behaviors himself:

"They're an integral part of how people cope," said Prof. James C. Scott, who teaches anthropology and political science at Yale University, and the author of "Weapons of the Weak," about the feigned ignorance, foot-dragging and other techniques Malaysian peasants used to avoid cooperating with the arrival of new technology in the 1970's. "All societies have them, but they're successful only to the extent that they avoid open confrontation."

Most people participate in this sort of behavior on some level, Professor Scott said, adding that his own habit was to write "England" rather than "United Kingdom" on letters he sends to his British friends. He described this as his way of disregarding British claims to Wales and Scotland.

"As a tactic, it doesn't amount to much except a way to provide a tiny and private sense of satisfaction," he said. "But that's something."

What more could one want out of life?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

garcinia cambogia extract side effects[/url] is the superior paunchy burning force out present in superstore these days a days. Let slip upto 10 kg in 1 month. garcinia cambogia select

8:13 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home