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Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 3/17/2001

Life is so often cluttered with annoying little problems

This is my season for going on record against a multitude of trivial annoyances that I've learned to live with. There are a lot of important things I detest - such as the medical insurance system, eternal inflation, unending taxation, wars, and political upheaval - but such things can't be changed, except by tearing everything apart and starting over.

It's the little things that stir me most, repetitive annoyances for which there is little justification.

For example: why do so many corporations and business firms send customers return envelopes having open windows instead of a printed return address envelope? The idea is that one can fold an insert letter or bill to the exact dimension required so that a preprinted address will show through the window. It rarely does.

The post office returns many of these envelopes for incomplete addresses. It also sends back letters marked “insufficient postage,” because stamps keep falling off. Not only are stamps being sold without sufficient adhesive, but the manufacturers of almost all types of envelopes have started shorting the public on dependable sealer.

Annoying, too, is the post office's willingness to accept special fees for delivery of certified or registered mail with a return slip to the sender showing that delivery was made. In many cases, though delivery is made, the proof of it is not provided without some type of special inquiry.

Supposedly as a safety measure, druggists keep attaching caps to pill containers that people with arthritic fingers can't open without pliers and a can opener. This same over-caution also has resulted in many grocery store bottles and cans also being sealed as if for eternity.

Also, plastic packaging has gone to extremes. Certain types of breakfast food, cookies, snacks, and other items increasingly are encased in a type of plastic material that is so tough it cannot be opened by tearing, but must be cut with a knife or scissors.

Phone bills have climbed sky-high, and many are quite confusing. Each day's mail brings in new information on how the amount charged can be cut by dialing through another system. I'm deluged with stickers, literature, and phone calls on how to save big sums of money, but so far none of it has materialized, and the baffling offers continue.

Salesmen who deliberately phone me at the lunch hour I can do without. Also, advertisements that offer “60 percent off,” without giving the basic price. In the same category are store markdowns, which appear to be bargains only because the original price was inflated to ridiculous levels.

Restaurant meals have become a monotony of sandwiches, soup, and salads at far too many eating establishments. Most foods taste the same, regardless of where you go, or what you pay, leading one to suspect that more and more luncheon and dinner items are being bought pre-cooked from a few wholesale sources.

Perhaps the worst of all is the necessity for keeping minute records and detailed receipts for income-tax purposes. A few weeks ago, I read of a proposal to allow the Internal Revenue Service to compute an individual's tax returns.

At first thought this may sound frightening. However, the more I think about it, the better I like the idea. In the last analysis, IRS agents deliver judgment on returns. If they computed them, there would be fewer errors and penalties and appeals. And best of all, if agents were forced to deal with loads of basic data and receipts, it might lead to total reform of record-keeping demands.

Millie Benson is a Blade Columnist.



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