In My Own Shoes: Why the Soapbox Never Gathers Dust | Guest columns

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So here I am again pulling out the old soapbox and getting ready to get on board and start rowing. Notice I didn’t say “dust it” because I don’t think I store it long enough between rants to collect dust.

Today, my friends, we have a garden of annoyance, starting with punches. Guess it’s been a while, but not easily noticed or practiced until COVID elevates its nasty cells and the Centers for Disease Control and all the other “experts” from Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott to your Grandma tell you said the handshake would be for a bit…maybe permanently. So people started blowing their elbows, then taking those same elbows and using them to greet people. Wasn’t that so damn smart of us?

I rarely, if ever, make political comments on these pages. I save that for bars and friendly chats with close friends; however, I feel like I have to say something about President Biden’s poor choice to punch Mohammed bin Salman during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia. Photos from the encounter show a puzzled-looking Salman who denied having anything to do with the execution of US journalist Jamal Khashoggi despite being suspected of ordering the execution. But Salman told Biden he had “nothing to do with it.” Biden said he thought otherwise, and Salman countered, “I dealt with those who did.” Wipe it, right? Punch on that one.

In fact, the individual who started the punch was Baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial in the 1950s. Since Stan was catching too many colds, he thought it might help. Michelle and Barack Obama frequently punched each other, which people thought was a gesture of love, and No. 1 germophobe Howie Mandel shoved his way through every recording of ‘Deal or No Deal’ .

Next! I’ve talked about this before, but now it really puts my panties in a bundle. Will everyone please stop using the word “iconic?” For everything! By definition, iconic is a representation of something else, like Big Ben is an icon of London. But every time I hear someone talk about an iconic cheeseburger or an iconic mattress or an iconic nail salon, I quell a strong desire to lose my iconic lunch. The term is so overused. Sort of like people who send every email with an LOL. Just writing a quick note doesn’t elicit hysterical laughter, unless, of course, they’re referring to Land O’ Lakes. Maybe it’s butter they’re looking for. Last word on this: The Blue Bug is indeed an iconic Rhode Island landmark. The clam fritters you ate last night at a local clam shack and took pictures of are NOT iconic!

Alright, here’s the last one…for now. However, for those “woke” sensitive souls, they might want to get rid of that old soapbox for me, because I know I hit more than a sore spot on this one. I’m going to set the scene. You call a business. Maybe you have a question about your bill, you don’t understand a new policy, you have a complaint to make, a question to ask, an error to report… and what do you get on the other end of this call? A menu! The moment you determine whether to press 1, press 5, or press fresh, they log you out, tell you “waiting time is longer than expected,” or voila! You finally get a living body, but unfortunately this living body speaks English as a second language. Barely. They also speak too quietly or too quickly or are completely unintelligible. And you say over and over again as politely as possible while clenching your jaw, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand what you just said” or “Would you like to repeat that, please?” They do, and it doesn’t help at all. I realize that most businesses today, from moms and dads to large corporations, are in desperate need of staff and therefore hire anyone, but could they please hire people who can at least less speak the same language as the people calling customer service?

If you are unhappy with anything I have covered here, just remember that this is primarily a OPINIONS page and “not necessarily the opinion of management, ownership or our advertisers”.

The soap stand is removed for today; but the way things are going, not for long, my friends. Not for a long time.

Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 21 years, including her “In Their Shoes” articles. She can be reached at [email protected] or 401-539-7762.

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