In a time when it's possible -- even mandatory -- to buy insurance against everything from catastrophic long-term health care to lost luggage, I've noticed a gaping hole. Why does no one offer minor-irritation insurance?
There are whole months when everything goes along okay except for the occasional broken arm or burst pipe. Those are bothersome, but if you're insured to your nostrils, you have the satisfaction of knowing that someone somewhere is going to have to pay for this. If nothing else, it gives you a sense that your account with the Universe is going to get squared.
But then there are days when the Universe hits you lightly but repeatedly in the face with a folded newspaper, and there's no one to turn to for compensation.
I think this is the kind of thing that results in people Going Postal, if you'll forgive the occupational slur. Two or three of these incidents, and a little light goes out of the day. Seven or eight, you begin to mutter unpleasantly at people you love. Fifteen or 20, and you find yourself in line to buy a Glock 9-millimeter and four boxes of cross-tops.
I believe society in general would be a lot safer if we could be insured against these kinds of incidents. So I suggest the following examples, with recommended compensation:
- Turning on the TV in a hotel room and seeing Sean Hannity after you've put down the remote: Should be worth $12.76.
- Packing only one novel for a long trip and discovering that you've already read it: $13.07
- Discovering that you've already read it while you're flying Delta Airlines: $31.12
- Hearing or reading the term barista. I want my coffee poured by a coffee-pourer, someone whose job description tells me that he or she knows what coffee is and has learned to pour it. A barista sounds to me like someone in the bull ring who makes faces at the bull to get it mad enough to gore the matador. Sort of a safer picador. Barista should be worth $1.19 and a free cup of coffee.
- Seeing a white guy wearing his baseball cap backwards: $4.84
- Hearing a white woman say, “You go, girl.” $7.43 and a pair of noise-canceling earphones
- Being exposed to any white person of either sex who refers to friends and acquaintances as “homies.” $14.29 and short-term use of a tranquilizer dart and the gun to fire it.
- Having to listen to “Stairway to Heaven” on the car radio: $3.39
- Repeated exposure to the term “hat trick”: $1.71 per
- Apostrophe pollution, as in the following sentence: “He picked up the suitcase by it's handle.” I mean, Jesus Christ. Is there anywhere someone so clueless that he or she would write, “He picked up the suitcase by it is handle.”? How simple is this, anyway? If you can't replace “it's” with “it is,” then write “its.” Let the apostrophe go someplace it's needed. It's not like there is an infinite number of apostrophes – every one that's misused deprives some poor writer of one he or she may need. This one should cost Mutual of Omaha $89.54.
- Any inadvertent experience of karaoke. A few years ago in Taiwan, a drunken businessman grabbed the microphone in a karaoke bar, held onto it, and sang “My Way” six times in a row. The other drunken businessmen in the bar beat him to death with heavy metal ashtrays. If those men had known that each slurred repetition of “My Way” was worth, say, $7.32, that man would be alive today. Not that that would necessarily be a good thing.
- Opening a menu and finding “Caesar” (as in Caesar Salad) misspelled. If people put half the energy into feeding the world that they put into finding wrong ways to spell “Caesar,” there would be Jenny Craig franchises in Sub-Saharan Africa. I'm no fan of big government, but I think there should be Caesar Salad Squads that do nothing but visit restaurants and check the menus, and they should have the power to force the ones that get it wrong to serve a salad they can spell. “Green,” for example. “Ceaser” should put $2.29 in my pocket every time I see it.
- And while we're at it, Menus that use Capitals for each Important Word. I can actually sort out for myself what's important in an entree like Loin of Beef Simmered over an Open Fire in a Fragrant Sauce of Shallots. It's meat, right? It's got some stuff poured on it. $3.72, and hold the sauce.
- Donald Rumsfeld. Fortunately, this one's over. $17.65
- Politicians who use the phrase, “At this moment in time.” As opposed to what? A moment in space? In the ingredients for shampoo? In a quart of milk? $3.99, and a bargain at the price.
- Anyone who employs more than five words to describe a bottle of wine. Double indemnity if they use the words “fruity” or “undertone.” So, $2.71 for six words or more, $5.42 for that bottle of Merlot with the fruity hint of blackberry, and $8.13 if it's also got an undertone of oak. If I want to drink oak, I'll throw some acorns in the Vita-Mix. Everything I want to know about a wine can be summed up in four words: It's red. It works.
I could go on for days, but I have to watch my blood pressure. If there are any minor irritations you'd like insurance against, send them to me, and maybe I'll put up a new list. If I choose yours, I might even throw in a visit to your local barista.
By the way, if Hannity's hairline were any lower, he'd be parting his eyebrow.
Tim -- Sunday