Janet Sheridan: Things I don’t need in 2014

Although I never buy a Powerball ticket, I fantasize about what I would do if I won. I dream, debate options and decide on only one immediate change: I will never again board an airplane and park my posterior in economy class.

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Janet Sheridan

No longer will I walk past the roomy seats of first class — where folks sip drinks without their knees getting in the way — to my middle seat in the rear of the plane, where folks who didn’t learn to share in kindergarten monopolize the arm rests. No more staring at the flaky bald spot of the reclined snorer in front of me while a robust toddler viciously kicks my seat back.

I’d like to ban another personal nightmare during the coming year: movies in which important nighttime sequences are filmed in unalleviated, midnight black. I strain my eyeballs, lean forward and concentrate but can’t tell what’s happening. So I watch the rest of the movie in a state of confusion, laughing cluelessly in all the wrong places.

And what’s with the bothersome people who chat in store aisles with friends they haven’t seen since yesterday or park their loaded shopping carts in a narrow aisle while they wander around in search of turkey pepperoni? If I had the money, I’d hire crotchety, roller-skating monitors armed with frowns and whistles to keep traffic flowing.

Maybe monitors also could change the behavior of another public nuisance: people who stand in line to order food and then, when it’s their turn, have no idea what they want: “Oh, gee, uh, what kind of sandwiches do you have? Oh, right, yeah, I see the list up there. Um, maybe I don’t want a sandwich. Do you have salads? Well, look at that, you’re right, salads are listed as well. Hmm. Which one would you recommend? No, that wouldn’t work for me. I don’t like avocados. Mary, hey Mary, what are you getting? Nah, I don’t feel like having a burger. Well, maybe I’ll just have soup. What kind of soup do you have?”

These oblivious folks are probably the same people who block traffic while they wait for a car to pull out of a parking spot close to a store entrance, when they could easily park a short walk away. This curious behavior is especially galling when the business to which they want instant access is a gym.

Next, I see no worthwhile purpose for wobbly tables and hope I don’t have to sit at one this year. I hate it when I’m engaged in an interesting conversation in a coffee shop, lean forward to contribute, and send a tidal wave of coffee sloshing from every cup. It’s impossible to gracefully and successfully fold a napkin and wedge it under the off-kilter leg. Whenever I try, I look undignified, and the wobble worsens.

I wish during 2014 someone would produce (1) zip-lock food containers that zip; (2) packaging for dental floss and makeup that can be opened without broken fingernails or stab wounds; and (3) cellphones that automatically disconnect within five feet of anyone in a public place who doesn’t want to hear a loud conversation about the user’s chronic bladder infection.

I’d think anyone a hero who could invent a system to rid us of all the passwords and personal identification questions necessary in computer land: “Please select and enter a password with four numerals, one special character, and three letters — two of which must be upper case; in addition, you should provide answers for any two of the following security questions: your middle school’s mascot, your father’s shoe size, and your favorite city with a population between 100,000 and 125,000.”

All of that to access my blog.

Believe me, I have better things to do with my time than to create and memorize meaningless security codes: I could be out buying lottery tickets so I can fly first class and hire supermarket monitors.

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