Things I’m not thankful for

TRAVERSE CITY — Before we all humbly give thanks tommorrow, I’d like to get a few things off my chest. Here are a few things I’m not thankful for:

– Whose genius idea is behind the open/close buttons on elevators? Am I the only one who isn’t mentally quick enough to pick the right one when someone says, “Hold the elevator!” I’m always a beat too slow because my little pea brain has to process which set of arrows means open vs. closed, and then the person misses the elevator and they think I’m to blame. I try to explain through the closing crack, “It’s not me! It’s the arrows! The arrows!” But I suspect they think I did it on purpose.

– Why are people who pay cash for gas punished? Oh, you credit users just pop in your card and out comes the gas. Easy-peasy. I’m a cash guy. I set a weekly budget of cash. That much cash goes in my wallet, and when it’s gone I know to stop spending. It keeps me out of trouble. When I use cash at the gas station, I end up playing this little game of guessing how much gas I need, which is annoying because I like a full tank. Is that so wrong? A full tank just seems right and proper, like a job well done. A tank where the gauge says it’s only 3/4ths full seems like a little failure. And another thing, gas stations, if your policy is going to be that cash people have to come inside first, then maybe you should say that right on the pump. That way I won’t hate you for making me fuss with the pump, jab buttons, and do the annoyed “what gives” gesture in your direction before stomping inside to pre-pay and ask you why you don’t have a pre-pay warning on your stupid pump. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so.

– Why is it so hard to find good shoelaces, the round, thick kind that come with the shoes when you buy them? The kind you buy at 7-11 or Rite Aid are the thin, cheap ones that are hard to grasp much less tie with. I hate that. Plus, how am I supposed to remember that my shoes have eight eyelets vs 10 when I’m standing at the shoelace rack? I don’t keep a shoelace chart on me. So I end up guessing. And I always choose wrong. Always. Have you ever tried to use eight eyelet laces in 10-eyelet shoes? You end up trying to tie a knot with an inch of lace, which is impossible. So you end up unlacing it and using eight eyelets. Then you worry about how dumb that looks at work all day. I know you smug prepared people are thinking, “Why don’t you just go to the shoe store or order some online?” And my equally smug reply is “Because I have a life and I don’t plan my shoelace needs in advance, OK?” If I had my way there’d be a chain of stores called Shoelaces R Us. One on every corner.

I have plenty more gripes, but I’m out of space, which I’m not thankful for, either. Life’s hard. You have no idea.

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Andrew Heller, an award-winning newspaper columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Follow him at and on Facebook and Twitter. Write to him via email at