Webster's Dictionary defines "curmudgeon" as -- excuse me just a minute. HEY, HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY? No? Darn. I must have left it in 1998.
OK, so Dictionary.com defines "curmudgeon" as "a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person." That's why, when somebody calls me a curmudgeon, I get a little offended. "Difficult" I'll give you. Maybe even "cantankerous." But don't call me "bad-tempered" unless you want a punch in the nose.
That said, I will confess to certain curmudgeonly tendencies, which seem to increase as I grow older. In particular, I find that what I once regarded as minor inconveniences now seem to annoy me to the point of distraction.
For instance, you know those tear-off coupons that come attached to your bills, right below where it says "detach this portion and send with your payment"?
OK, so maybe you don't know. Maybe I'm the last person in America who doesn't pay his bills online. That's fine with me, because online bill pay is something I absolutely refuse to embrace -- if for no other reason, than just because the utility providers and credit card companies seem to want me to so badly.
Anybody who charges that kind of exorbitant interest, or bills at those astronomical rates -- well, whatever I can do to make their day just a little less pleasant, by having to tear open an envelope or hand-enter data, is well worth a 45-cent stamp.
Like I said, I'll give you "cantankerous."
But I digress. My point was that the people who design the bills always seem to put the perforated line for detaching the coupon one millimeter below the crease where the bill was folded. That way, when you go to tear it off, you end up tearing in the wrong place and the coupon won't fit in the envelope.
I'm sure they do this on purpose, no doubt to discourage people like me from relying on paper transactions. Well, guess what, MasterCard? It's not going to work. If you want your money, you're just going to have to deal with wadded-up payment coupons.
Another thing that annoys me is when people text in their cars. I'm not talking about texting while driving. That's just plain nuts. I'm talking about the people who seem to think that, because the light is red, they have plenty of time to fire off a 200-word missive to their BFF.
Inevitably, the light turns green while they're still trying to figure out the texting abbreviation for "who's your daddy." Meanwhile, the rest of us are sitting behind them, wondering why they're not moving -- OK, we're not really wondering -- and watching in horror as the light slowly turns yellow and then red again.
I know it's not very Christian of me to get annoyed at those people, but I just want to punch them in the nose. Thank goodness I'm not bad-tempered.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and college professor. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.