Tuesday 23 November 2021

Little Guide To Pet Peeves (Pt 6 - out and about)

I began this 'little guide' for fun regarding some of my personal bête-noires and so here I am again, hoping to finish the series before Crimbo.  This was all written before Covid but since 'opening up', maybe a lot of it has become relevant again.


I’m sure ‘charity muggers’ are unanimously loathed, which is maybe why they’ve largely disappeared from our streets. But at their height, charities would send out over-zealous keen young things to jump in your path or dance in front of you with their clipboards and silly comments. In an aggressive market economy, even charities felt they had to up their game and profits with a sound business plan and a decent pension plan for the CEOs. So out went the humble tin which volunteers shook with the obligatory badges to pin on your lapel to show you’d donated. In came the chuggers with their clipboards and contracts for you to sign since it was no longer enough for you to give one-off donations. I had young men dancing in front of me telling me how nice I looked today (believing flattery would get them everywhere - it didn’t.) I’m afraid I’m the wrong person to mess with however chirpy or good- looking the boy might be. But I think the booby prize has to go to the young girl who shouted half way up the high street as I was advancing, ‘hello lady in green’. What was this supposed to achieve? A sense of flattery that I’d been especially selected from my fellow shoppers or one of embarrassing me into submission? Probably a bit of both but it achieved neither. I scowled into Peacocks to avoid said offending chugger, annoyed with myself for not having a ready retort

Formal Forms of Address

This is the flip side of the informal and nauseating terms of address such as the ubiquitous hun (see Pt 1). But it also irks me to be called Miss Rigby. It’s not just the ultra formality - and, sometimes insincere, politeness - it stems from an archaic time when a woman’s title was largely determined by her marital status. Of course that’s why Ms was invented - to disguise whether you were a Miss or a Mrs. But the pronunciation is always cringey and none more so in a situation when someone asks ‘is that Miss or Mrs?’ forcing you onto the back foot when you mumble in reply ‘Well muzz actually’. It makes you feel like a fussy feminist purist rather than the casual affable laidback person that was in conversation moments before. And leaving off your title is no guarantee of someone not supplying you with one anyway.

Years ago, tired of my local Nat West Bank addressing me as Miss Rigby every time I did a transaction, I got the title removed from my account in the hope that they would dispense with the formalities. But no. They still addressed me as Miss Rigby!

They do it because they can, they’ve got your name and your number – and I didn’t know what to do to stop them. But then I discovered a way of getting my own back. Thank you, Mr Parker. Much obliged to you Mr Parker (Nosy by any chance?) Well, they always had their name tags with first and last name on their lapels.

In the end I had to make a point of saying ‘please, call me Kate’ - which to their credit they did once I’d pointed it out to them. But I’d rather they didn’t call me anything or at least asked me how I liked to be known!

Untrusting Cashiers

Maybe you’ve also had this where you go to the till with an item and it’s not got a price on. The assistant at the till then asks you if you remember how much said item was and you do, you remember clearly, you can visualise all the other same items with their price tag on, it’s just that you happened to pick the one where it somehow got detached or maybe it was never priced in the first place. You tell the assistant that it was 1.75 without wavering and she still rings the bell and calls someone to check the flipping price!

People spreading their germs about in public.

Have people never heard of the saying coughs and sneezes spread diseases? And fair enough, you might expect it in a doctor’s surgery waiting room but what about those martyrs who stagger into work, thinking they’re being heroic and and then infecting the whole damned office with their horrible lurgey? It would have been so much better if they’d just had the common sense to stay off work because infecting half the work force isn’t impressing the boss, especially if he or she is laid up with it for three weeks as a result.

Then there are shops where a snuffling assistant hands you your loose change, the same hand which nanoseconds before handled a snot-filled tissue. This requires the hand gel on hand to smear liberally over your palms before you’ve even left the shop. Or cafes and restaurants. If you’re anything like me you will leave as soon as you get wind of a sniffle or a cough because the last thing you want are those nasty droplets breeding all over your Danish pastry. Or on the trains where there is some oblivious yoof - usually male - sneezing and coughing in the seat in front of you. You catch him using his bare wrist to wipe his snitch. These are probably the worst offenders. They just accept that colds are a part of life and a small inconvenience or price to put up with for that three day music festival camping in a wet field. In the presence of these types my seat is promptly vacated and if I’m lucky I will find another well clear of a non germ-free adolescent.

As mentioned above, this was first penned in pre lockdown and I'm still hopeful that some people have become more aware since we 'opened up' the economy and society post vaccination, but there are many others who many seem to have reverted to type!

Please feel free to share yours in the comments section below. 


  1. Nice one Kate, I was gobsmacked to learn recently that Ms - as Ive always referred to myself since it came out, is mainly associated with being used by divorced women! Had no idea that using Ms, nowadays implies you are divorced rather than just a female adult!

    1. I never knew that either, Barbs! It always used to mean that you didn't want to give away your marital status and be equal with guys who are just plain Mister whatever their marital status!

  2. Love it Kate. Agree about the chuggers but I realize they are full of flattery for anyone and everyone but that is annoying. I also know what you mean about the cashiers who don't take your word for it when you tell them the price of an item and then have to double check. Yes yes yes, HATE germs, sniffers and snufflers. I remember the trains too well. Really enjoyed this.

    1. Thanks so much, Ann! I knew you'd appreciate it!