Circa 1980 Sense and Nonsense
A strange new phenomenon has entered into ordinary, everyday human communications. It is affecting people on the streets, in the stores and in their homes.
Someday it may even play a role at hockey games.
My friend, Oscar the Grouch, is deeply concerned about this mysterious outbreak of “niceness”. The other day I overheard him addressing a group of fellow grouches from his garbage can platform on Sesame Street.
“I Oscar the Grouch am mad! I am mad because I am not as angry as I would like to be. The citizens and merchants on Sesame Street are practicing discrimination against grouches. We no longer have reason to enjoy anger and seething resentment in the crummy, yucky way that is our birthright.
“I, Oscar the Grouch am not going to stand not being pushed around anymore!
Let me give you a few examples. The other day I entered my favorite restaurant. The first thing that went wrong was that I was waited on – right away! Then the waitress smiled; a friendly smile. And that’s not all! Later when I complained that the steak had been too tender and the salad too crisp, she apologized! I was so confused that I left her a tip. Me, Oscar the Grouch tipping a waitress? I am so ashamed…
And Bert’s nephew; you all know Goody Two-Shoes Bert from down the street? Well he has a teenage nephew just like himself; hard working and honest. Yuck! The kid was in a store that sells magazines, candy and stuff. He browsed through the merchandise for at least ten minutes and you won’t believe this. He did not get arrested for shoplifting!
What is the matter with people nowadays? Don’t they know that teenagers are all crooks!
Kermit the Frog was telling me what happened to him at the Sesame Street supermarket. Kermit was stocking up on canned flies for his cupboard when the check-out girls told him they would be on special in a few days. He only bought one can and came back for the rest when they were on sale at a lower price. Can you beat that? Kermit thought it was great but I was disgusted!
One place that usually leaves me happily mean is a bank on Friday afternoons. There are always lineups and people are SUPPOSED to be rude. Last Friday nobody pushed, shoved or even complained. And the worst part was the teller smiled when she cashed my Grouch Pension cheque.
What’s going on with this smiling bit anyway? Is everyone posing for Colgate commercials?
That night I went for a ride in my mobile garbage can. I adjusted my rear view mirror to allow the guy behind me to reflect his bright lights into my eyes. Of course he had to be one of those courteous drivers who dims his lights within range of the vehicle he is following. I just couldn’t win!
Later, when I pulled into a service station to gas up, I noticed my windshield was coated with grounds and grease – just the way I like it. I couldn’t believe it when the attendant washed my windshield without my asking. My whole day was one big yucky confrontation with nice people!
Even switchboard operators are disgustingly polite. The other day on the phone I was left on hold, just as I had hoped I would be. I didn’t even have time to gnash my teeth in fury before the girl was back, butting in with her ‘Thank you for waiting, Mr. Grouch’!
And my mail! I like to delay paying my bills because I used to receive some great nasty reminders. Now they use words like ‘please’, ‘understand’ and ‘appreciate’ when they send my overdue notices. No self-respecting grouch should have to put up with that!”
When last I saw Oscar the Grouch he was organizing a grouch protest march. They planned to picket Sunday Schools, service clubs and the local chapter of the Terry Fox Fund canvassing headquarters.
As Oscar had warned his fellow grouches, “Niceness has to be nipped in the bud. If it ever reaches epidemic proportions there will be no place for us grouches on Sesame Street!”