Missus Em decides to be cross
"And these people will grow up and become columnists and commentators on issues," I sighed. He sighed louder. "Now what?" "How anybody can write such ungrammatical stuff is beyond my understanding," I went on.
"Somebody missed a comma or an apostrophe?" he inquired in a long suffering polite tone. I heard the doorbell, but ignored both tones and went on with my grouse.
"No. People ignore tense continuity. Worse, they confuse and mix up tenses, often in the same paragraph or sentence. I'd have thought it's so simple - there are only three tenses and four variations. Even I can count that high, and I only need two toes on top of my fingers."
A look of alarm flashed on the face of our friend who entered as I spoke. We greeted him. Once we were comfortably settled with drinks at hand and things to munch, he asked me about it.
"What is this needing only two toes on top of your fingers? Some complicated yoga posture?"
"Nope." I grinned. "Tenses. People get them wrong all the time, especially the perfect tense. It's simple enough, after all. Present; present continuous, present perfect and present perfect continuous. I gnash my teeth. I am gnashing my teeth. I've gnashed my teeth. I've been gnashing my teeth. Past…" I stopped my chant to draw a breath.
"I get the picture," he smiled. "Don't laugh, it really bothers me." I said. I know I tend to be extravagant when writing, but I really am moderate in speech.
"You sound like my wife. She has this quaint way of putting it, she says she is so cross." He smiled again. "Our children laugh at her, of course, and say nobody says cross anymore."
We went on to talk about other things, mostly things that made us cross, and the conversation flowed. I thought about it later, though. Cross is how I feel; even leaving inflections and conjugation out of it, not mentioning apostrophes at all, cross is how I feel when I read newspapers or articles or essays on the Internet.
I know I am repeating myself here, but I am a mild person, and sweet-tempered to boot. But there are times when the sweetest temper can turn sour. I don't always grouse about it on the blog, though.
I didn't say a word when I completed this month's Genius puzzle in twenty-five minutes (and five of them were spent printing the puzzle and pencilling in the solutions) and felt let down, did I? I didn't say anything at all about my decision to never believe my surgeon again. (Oh, I trust him with my life, I just won't believe his time projections for recovery again.)
I didn't even mention my phone woes, and not just telemarketers' calls either. I didn't ever talk about the mails I get bombarded with, from banks, credit card companies, and more.
A digression: the only bank that doesn't pester me is HSBC, and that is because we parted ways in a very acrimonious fashion. They gave me an ATM card. Free, they said. I used it sparingly, but was quite happy to have it. A year later, their monthly statement showed a charge for it. I protested. They said it was free only for the first year. I said they hadn't said so explicitly when they gave me a card I hadn't asked for.
I said I would have no more truck with them. They offered me a different account, where the card charges would be waived, better services and more. I said, no thank you. But Missus Em, said the person I was speaking to. Stop right there, I said; did she know that was the first time any of the bank staff actually addressed me by name, or looked at me properly? (They generally treated me like the Invisible Woman.)
Oh, wait. The reason why HSBC doesn't pester me is probably because they don't have my email address.
As I was saying, I don't grumble about these things. Then again, I said earlier, there are limits. Reserve Bank of India and their directives to banks get my goat. Really.
Some months ago, State Bank of India sent a letter to my mother-in-law. As per RBI's directive KYC, they needed to know their customers. Their records have inadequate proof her identity and existence. She needed to provide some documents to satisfy their requirements.
I provided the documents, and a covering letter; to prove that an account-holder for three decades was who their records claimed she was. As I anticipated, there arrived letters addressed to my husband and me, wanting us to help SBI know their customers. I did the 'needful'.
Then, two weeks ago, a familiar envelope arrived, addressed to my mother-in-law. The SBI, following RBI directive KYC, wanted her to provide documentary evidence that she was who their records said she was. Again.
Did you know, sexpot in area, a riot expanse, repeat on axis, sane expiator... are all anagrams of exasperation?