The Old Coot pegged his meter

I was grousing around the other day. To anyone within earshot. Nothing special. Just a collection of little irritations. McDonalds got me started. I’d ordered a hamburger kid’s meal. They should change the name to “Kid’s & Old Coot’s” Meal. More old coots order it than kids. I bit into the burger and immediately realized my mistake. I’d forgotten to open it up and remove the pickles and scrape off the mustard. Mustard on a hamburger? Most people I know use ketchup. Mustard is for hot dogs! I think it’s a law or something. And, who wants warm pickles? I want mine on the side, and cold. So, I fixed the burger and finished my lunch in peace. Sort of. My grouse meter started to go up.

Then, Bill Gates got in my face. He may be a great humanitarian, but he creates more frustration than any other person on the planet. Every time I get a new computer it has one of his new “latest and greatest” operating systems. Everything is different! I have to relearn how to use it. And, like old dogs, old coots find it almost impossible to learn new tricks. I made the mistake of buying a PC with Windows 7, “Premium” Home Edition. In my world, “Premium” means the top of the line, the best there is. In Bill Gate’s world, it means the bare minimum, the cheap and dirty version. I couldn’t install any of my old (and cherished) software. Not unless I spent another $200 for Windows 7 – Professional. My grouse meter went up three degrees.

One by one, the irritations kept coming. My cell phone charger was next. We have three cell phones in our house; each has its own charger and a unique connector plug. The cords are always lying together in the drawer in a big snarl. I don’t know how it happens. We wind them up and carefully place them in separate parts of the drawer but the minute it closes, they weave themselves into a tangled ball. “Why can’t all cell phones use the same charger?” I groused to my wife, Marcia. “Take a walk, you old coot,” she responded. (My grouse meter rose, yet again.)

But, I didn’t take a walk. I drove the car to the gas station instead. To fill it up. I forgot what car I was in and pulled up to the wrong side of the pump. “Why don’t all cars have the gas cap on the same side?” I yelled to the ceiling of the car. (Up another degree) I got out to see if the hose would reach, but of course it wouldn’t. It’s about ten inches long. So, I got back in the car and pulled around the other way. Almost! A kid in an old beater cut me off and took the spot I was heading to. Another plea to the ceiling of the car (and another degree on the meter). Finally, I got to fill up the tank. I think it cost seventy dollars; I’m not sure; the pump failed to deliver a receipt and ordered me to see the clerk if I wanted one (Up! Up! Up!). There was a line of people cashing in lottery tickets so I said the heck with it and left (the needle kept rising).

My grouse meter was now in the red zone. If I was a car my “check engine” light would be glowing. I needed a relief valve. I went to the Goat Boy Coffeebar and sat with the boys. I made it just in time for the daily grouse meeting. We listen to each other. We have too. It’s a rule. You listen to me and I’ll listen to you. My meter went back into the safe zone. All Stephanie charges for is the coffee. The psychotherapy is free. I wonder how high her grouse meter is by the time we leave?