Friday, September 7, 2012

Dreadful Tasks

Recently I had to make my annual trek to the dentist after dreading the visit for weeks. I understand the virtues of dental hygiene and had to wonder why I have come to dislike the dentist so much. It began a few years ago when I had a small pain in a molar shortly after visiting a different dentist. The first dentist said everything was fine but the pain continued. A friend recommended another dentist. The new dentist indicated that I needed to undergo a root canal. The shock of an undiscovered problem was followed by several consecutive visits for work and a large bill as a result. Since then, dental visits were taken much more seriously.

My dental dread spurred me to think about tasks that many people face which are unpleasant. Despite being grown ups, we can fret over rather mundane matters when we know they might be quite disagreeable or complicated.

Some things which I have come to dread include (besides going to the dentist):

Having my taxes done: I stopped preparing my own taxes many years ago. It wasn't because the forms were too complicated. It was because the silly IRS regulations are changed so often. I would no sooner do my own taxes than take out my own appendix. It's better to have someone else do the numbers. But the preparation of figures, gathering of receipts and such is still extremely distasteful. I can spend a large amount of time for a meeting which requires about an hour's work. Somehow I feel like I'm being scolded by the teacher for not doing my homework.

Taking pets to the vet: Being a good pet parent requires putting the kitties (or doggies, as the case may be) into a pet carrier and taking them to the vet. It's good for the pets, though they may not see the merit and in fact resist the trip. Its heartbreaking to see the fear they display, even for something as simple as their annual vaccinations and exam. I know people who say they will risk the pet's well being and avoid taking them to the vet because they dislike it so intensely. That's is a bad decision for the pet, but I can almost understand that reasoning. We want out pets to like us and a visit to the vet is not how they want to spend their time. Of course, once they leave the vet's office, they are quiet and content knowing that they are soon to be spoiled once again and can milk the experience for days.

Having computer problems: When I was younger and living like a college student/newlywed, I did not always drive reliable cars. Breaking down at the side of the road or having a flat tire was part of not having to make car payments. These inconveniences were frustrating. I never understood (nor cared to understand) the details of how cars worked.

Now those same horrible feelings of frustration and confusion resurface when I confront computer problems. My computer is still new but that does not prevent experiencing down time from crashed websites or problems from other external sources. These outages make me want to scream and throw something, though that reaction rarely solves the issue. I must slay the dragon -- but what kind of dragon is it, where is it living and what type of weapon should I use? The unknown tragedies of technology.

Getting through to customer service: Trying to reach someone for customer service can be extremely challenging. Many large companies use lengthy option answering queues: "If you are calling about X or Y, please press 1." Of course, you are calling about neither X nor Y, so you have to hold on for more options from the answering system. These programs save money because no human being is needed, but such a procedure is extremely annoying. You even get these recorded options when doing something as routine as calling information for a phone number. I hate trying to leave a message to be interpreted by a machine. Few things are as irritating as speaking the name "Joe Smith" when asked and having the "operator" repeat, "I heard Toe Twist. Is that correct?"

In the big picture of life, such small annoyances are merely that -- annoying. But when we are trying to make it through the day and take satisfaction in doing so, these little burrs under our saddles can wear big blisters.


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