I promise I don’t just randomly complain about everything. But I wanted to write this funny piece about those amusing little life annoyances that manage to frustrate you for about 10 seconds and then they are forgotten, well at least until the next time!
In no particular order lets get started…
1. Pen Clicking & General Tapping or Clicking…ARGHHH!
This particular annoyance entered my life in 2018 when I started teaching kindergarten children in China. Although I had taught you children in Vietnam the year before, these little babies were much younger and therefore hadn’t quite grasped the concept of what was irritating and what was not. Upon entering a kindergarten classroom its like clicking and tapping just becomes common place. Crayons tapping on the desk. Chair legs repeatedly hitting the ground. Tongue clicking. Hand tapping on the side of chairs. All of the forms. It became such an intolerance for me that I actually began to think I had a problem. So I took to Uncle Google and here is what I found.
See its a thing, a legit thing. Anger to panic was exactly the scale of distress I felt when this was happening continuously in the classroom. Children exacerbate this annoyance, but it slowly entered into everyday life, and anyone say tapping chopsticks or clicking a pen in the office would drive me insane. I have since noticed having not taught for nearly a year now that my “misophonia” has improved a lot, I am rarely angry but such tappings only mildly irritated.
Most kids I taught quickly learned that this was not to be tolerated in Teacher Haz’s classroom. When I would get classes of new students I would perform my classroom rules rather elaborately and theatrically.
Rule 1: No talking when teacher is talking
Rule 2: Be kind to each other
Rule 3: No banging chairs or tapping pens
Rule 3 was performed by me a grown ass women acting like a naughty 4 year old by banging my chair against the floor in a fit of crazy range and then creating a cross with my arms and shaking my head. TPR to its fullest (TPR is essentially hand gestures for all you non-ESL teachers). The best thing about this demonstration was seeing the kids faces, they were either finding it truly hilarious or thinking OMG my teacher is crazy. But guess what it worked, it all but eliminated this little annoyance from the classroom!
2. Coins on Notes
Now this one kills me (for like 5 seconds, every single time I go shopping). No matter what shop you are in, no matter where in the world you are, this happens. You are given your change with the notes being places in your hand first and then the coins being places afterwards. You are therefore left with a couple of options of how to get out of this situation, how to swiftly put this mess away so the customer behind you can pay for their shopping. You can 1) slide everything into your open wallet and hope for the best, 2) clench your fist around both note and coin and deal with it later or 3) you can make a scene and individually place all those irritating coins into your wallet and then place the notes. Option three for me is just too pressurising, with the cashier looking at you as if you’re being slow and the feeling of the customer behind you breathing down your neck. I personally go for option one everytime, usually through blind panic. Yesterday for instance this culminated in half of my money going in my purse, the other going in the packing area and one kwacha going on the floor. Good job!
Not to want to criticise the cashier community, I did some research as to why this happens and it actually makes total sense. I love the use of the phrase “inconvenient fashion” in the question.
So I do get it, it is of course much easier to say $20 (give them the note) and then then the small change, because its all to do with counting. I am just suggesting that maybe this could already be counted in their heads as they prepare the change and then they could say the coin amount place it in your hand and then give you the notes. I guess they want to also clearly show you the change. I must add that I suppose in COVID times the note first policy has actually minimally contributed towards protecting us against the virus as there is no finger to palm contact with the note acting as a protector! Anyway for whatever reasons (all of which seem reasonable not I think about it) this will always be a slight irritation of mine.
3. Loud Chewing
Now this is probably on many of your lists of life’s annoyances but I still have to share. For me personally it is just not okay, not only do I not want to hear the noise, which also triggers annoyance 1 on my list (misophonia) but I also don’t want to see all that food be churned around by those white grinding machines. When I got to China I instantly noticed that so many people chew very loudly. I was shocked just sitting in a small restaurant how most people were chewing with excess. I soon realised that as is with many things around the world, culture difference plays a big part on this topic. It is a part of Chinese culture to chew loudly to show that you are enjoying the food that has been give to you. Also with tea drinking, often Chinese people will drink loudly and it shows that they think that was a good cuppa. I figured this out pretty quickly and the irritation ebbed a little, and instead I started to look at what they were eating, to see whether I should order it too!
4. Taxi’s Being Shocked You Require Change
This one is simple, surely taxi drivers should carry some small change. I am not suggesting that I am paying for a 13 rand fare with a 100 rand bill. I wouldn’t expect change from that but when your just expecting like 5 rand change then I think thats not too much to ask. I’m speaking in South African Rand right now because I have just been taking taxi’s a little bit around Cape Town. So many times, the driver looks completely astonished that I might require change. On rides where they actually had change I would definitely tip the driver as I was grateful for their understanding of this issue. A big shout out to my DiDi driver who dropped me at the airport at 4.30am. The fare was 160 rand and I gave him a 200 and he had change! What a legend.
5. Being Late
I think most people are either built to be early or late. I am an early bird, not just on time but early. But sadly it seems that many of my friends (hehe you know who you are) have the late gene. Now I am not saying the following in an offensive way, it’s just a cultural difference, and by no means applies to everyone. But when I moved to Zambia I definitely encountered occasions of “African time”. When a person says to you I will be there now now. To me that is like literally in the next 30 seconds to a minute, but for many thats like I am still putting on my clothes and I’m coming. So many people I have met here in Zambia have also mentioned that they are on African time, meaning they are often running just a little behind schedule. I don’t find this to be completely true in Zambia, because for me it’s just down to the individual. But no matter where in the world I am, I can guarantee I am there first. Why can’t people just be on time. There is something about lateness that I find so interesting in terms of a global perspective. Generally speaking it changes so much from country to country. In Japan I noticed that literally everything ran on time. Like perfectly scheduled, it felt organised and intense. Life in general in Zambia feels less stressful and therefore maybe less time orientated. In the UK I think we are just a hot mess of both late and early. Trains are coming on time, then they are being cancelled, then they are delayed and then you are ultimately bunged on a replacement bus service. Our countries as a whole, in terms of time management do seem to reflect some of our traits, it’s interesting.
6. Packing My Bags
We are back to the supermarket for this one. Maybe this is an unpopular opinion but I hate it when people pack my bags for me. Especially when they do not ask and simply start packing. As I bring my own bags (which is not very popular here in Zambia), often staff start to pack my bags and I haven’t even got my reusable bags out yet. Also I just love packing the bags, its organisational fun that people like me just love. I like being able to fit everything in neatly and I am not generally fussed if the meat touches the milk etc. I just don’t like the assumption that we all want our bags packing for us. For me it’s the best part of the supermarket shop, just let me please have my organisational moment.
7. Asking Multiple Questions. They Only Reply To One.
A classic emailing faux pas, but one I simply cannot ignore! The issue of people not answering all my questions in an email has resulted in me having to literally spell it out for people in a 1, 2, 3 list of questions. This feels a little like I am insulting the recipients intelligence but I just can’t help it, its become necessary in this fast pace ‘I’m too busy to check everything carefully’ world. It’s even more frustrating when you write three questions, wait over a week for a reply and then only have one of them answered. Just the other day I sent an email asked 3 very important time sensitive questions and received the following response…
That was it, just noted. Noted that you’ve seen my questions maybe. But definitely not noted that you have read and answered my questions.
8. American English Is Better Than British English
This is not a discussion about which is better American English or British English, but I will firstly say it is called English for a reason and I think people should remember that!
Being an English teacher in Asia often provided hilarious examples of this exact situation. Despite being a native teacher from ENGLAND, WHERE ENGLISH ORIGINATED FROM, Chinese parents would often prefer American English. Hilarious in itself, but your 3 year old child is not going to have issues later on in life if they speak with more of a British accent. No interviewer is going to ask an 18 year old Chinese student in their Harvard University interview, “so why did you spend all those years learning English, and being proficient enough at speaking the language to attend this prestigious school only to have a British accent?” No body cares. American or British. If English isn’t your first language and you learnt it from scratch and are now fluent, then all you need is a bloody big pat on the back, you’re bilingual, congratulations!
Now a story for you. At one of my schools in China we, at the time, had two teachers from the UK and one from Serbia. Although the Serbian teacher and the school pretended that this particular teacher was American. Now I knew and the Chinese staff could tell that this teacher was not American. But the parents, no matter who they were they never knew. Some even studied in America. They had no idea! I personally found this funny because one weekend I was expecting to teach a prospective student a demo class to sign them up to come to school. Their parents asked the Chinese staff where I was from…”Teacher Haz is from the United Kingdom.” “No, no, no, we want American”. And there you have it the PERFECTLY CAPABLE, ENGLISH ENGLISH TEACHER was not required. So they sent in the Serbian *COUGH* I mean American *COUGH*.
Take this picture below, I was filling out a teaching form today and it has placed an American flag next to British English. Do these American sites also think that Americans invented the English language.
So whether you prefer your movie theatre Americanisms or your Downton Abbey Britishisms, please just don’t whatever you do disregard BRITISH ENGLISH as a language. Think about where the language came from and then speak!
9. Unnecessary COVID Regulations
Now I am talking specifically here about one incident. So I cannot really call it a life annoyance but what the heck its been a crazy year and a half and guess what I am going to put this one in at number 9 whether you like it or not (It’s probably just my mum reading this anyway).
So I am not one of these people who doesn’t believe in COVID, and I strongly advocate for social distancing, mask wearing and sanitising, but this one was ridiculous.
I was driving from Livingstone (home of the Victoria Falls) back to the capital Lusaka, when I approached a road block. Being alone in the car I had no face mask on, so as I approached I rummaged around for my mask and lowered the window. I lowered the window to a man wearing a mask that covered his mouth but not his nose, not a good start. He exclaimed that I had come from an area where there may be more cases (no evidence of this was provided) and that I am kindly being asked to step outside of the vehicle and wash my hands. Now I hesitated because this firstly seemed ridiculous. Then I thought this was a good scam for stealing my car. But there were a lot of health signs and I analysed the situation and though new COVID, new times. So I stepped out of my vehicle and had no choice but to walk in close proximity to at least 5 other people, all of whom were wearing face masks in a rather relaxed manner. I then reached the sanitiser spot and laughed. It was just water, no soap, no sanitiser, just water from a tap that you had to touch with your hands. I touch this unsanitary tap as the guard was eagerly watching me and I walked past the poor social distancers and got back into my car. I think searched in my handbag for some hand sanitiser, and sufficiently squirted! That my friends was an example of doing something poorly just for the sake of doing something.
10. Calling Me
Don’t do it. Don’t call me. Text me. Leave a voice message. but do not call me. Now I am slightly joking here, but I have a lot of anxiety around making phone calls. I would just rather you text me, I will reply to very quickly and its just easier and less stressful for me. I have a small list of people I am confident and happy to speak to on the phone 1)mum and dad 2) my boyfriend 3) Olly 4) Chiara and my current professor is sneaking onto that list just because he’s been calling recently and I have had to deal. I just get so nervous on the phone. Is it going to be awkward? Are they going to understand me? How am I going to introduce myself? Are we going to speak at the same time? These are just some of the things that go through my mind?
I remember this being a thing ever since I was a kid. My mum once made me phone the hairdressers. YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT. PHONE AND MAKE AN APPOINTMENT! I would sit there with a piece of paper and a list of things I needed to say or times I was available for an appointment. I am 26 now I know I need to get over this, but I am slowly slowly getting there.
11. Finding My Country on a Drop Down List
This one happens a lot more frequently than you would imagine, especially when, like me, you live abroad. So what am I talking about here? I am from the UK (United Kingdom), and when you have to fill in those personal information forms for say passport applications, or visas or flight tickets I am never knowing what my country is going to be labelled as. And guess what? There are 195 countries so thats a hell of a lot of names to scroll through only to discover they’ve gone and called you something else.
If the forms drop down bar is titled, ‘Nationality’ then here is what I should find…
If the forms drop down bar says ‘country’ or ‘country of origin’ then here is what I should find…
- United Kingdom
- The United Kingdom of Northern Ireland and Great Britain
Granted I know we have a lot of names, which confuses our foreign friends, but it’s not so hard is it. Now I know that more specific forms particularly ones from UK sources will list England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, thats fine. But our country is the UK, our nationality is British.
Theres me scrolling all the way down to ‘U’ in the alphabetised list only to find that we do not exist. Then you scroll back up to ‘B’ to check Britain, only to find that you’ve been plonked in ‘E’ for England! What is I were Scottish eh?
I know we are a confusing nation, but please please drop down list making people, get it right!