First World gripes & phony facial hair

Assorted adhesive mustaches, for the girl who has everything.
Assorted adhesive mustaches, for the girl who has everything.

I received a shiny gadget for Christmas. Well, not so much shiny as nondescript and black and made to be worn on my wrist like a bracelet. It was moderately spendy, so when Mike and I agreed to get them for each other, we decided they would be our only gifts.

Oh, I should say “among our only gifts,” because there was also a tin of assorted adhesive mustaches in my stocking.

So, here we were with these new tracker gadgets – which were bound to have been popular for every uptight, OCD fitness fanatic you know (as well as for a couple of posers like us). They came with a little card, listing a website on which is presumably all the instructions for calibrating our new toys.

If you happen to work for a company that makes gadgets for a particularly uptight, OCD population, and all the functionality of your gadget depends upon your website, you really should (a) make sure your website can support a fairly significant uptick of traffic on Christmas morning, and that (b) the default error reading doesn’t say something about “planned maintenance,” when I’m pretty sure the website’s crashing wasn’t in the plan.

I’m pretty sure this company was actually just experiencing a North Korea kind of morning.

Immediately upon encountering said planned maintenance message I was incensed because my exciting new toy should be working. Right. Freaking. Now. It should be telling me how many calories I was burning with each breath. There was no explanation as to why it wasn’t.

I pulled up the company’s Facebook page. Again, no explanation, but there were a whole lot of people similarly incensed that their Christmas gadget did not function Right. Freaking. Now. And who had some nasty things to say about it. At Christmas. Nothing says Peace on Earth like telling someone they’re an idiot and need to get their act together – outside of the normal family holiday dinner conversation tradition, I mean.

For some reason, seeing this vitriol calmed me way down. I don’t normally feel sorry for IT people, but I have worked with athletes before. There are many exceptions, but as a group, we’re a bunch of first class ass-hats. Runners will complain if the race is a tenth of a mile too long or too short, there aren’t enough water stops, there are too many water stops, the weather’s too hot, too windy, to rainy, the t-shirts are sized wrong or the wrong color, or there’s not enough beer.

… Well, I mean, some complaints are more reasonable than others.

I personally try to compensate for rude people when I’m running an event by waving and saying thank you to the volunteers and the cheer leaders and the traffic control people who line a course, but I’m not sure I’m all that intelligible. I may be coming off as a grouch who is deliberately flicking sweat at people as I pass.

But runners aren’t the only ones. I’m looking at you too, cyclists, swimmers, skiers, kayakers. For some reason, we have a disproportionate number of uptight, crabby people in our midst.

For a bunch a people who are pretty good at coaxing those endorphins out, not to mention keeping the dopamine and the serotonin levels going at a pretty good clip, we sure don’t know how to regulate our rage response to daily stressors.

Those poor computer geeks were probably yanked out of bed Christmas morning, not by their kids screaming with delight over what Santa brought, but because a bunch of douchebags all wanted to track their Christmas morning runs with their gadgets and crashed the system.

I called mom to chat a little later. She’d tried on the blouses we bought her for Christmas and loved them, but there was one she wouldn’t wear for a while. A turtleneck. Anyone remember that my mom is in a gargantuan neck brace right now that forces her to move like Mister Roboto? I apparently couldn’t be bothered to remember when I was shopping for her present last week.

It goes to show you that it doesn’t take an IT guy to screw up a Christmas present.

Of course my mom was gracious, like she is (any snark I have was not inherited from her), and didn’t complain about how she wouldn’t be able to wear her Christmas present Right. Freaking. Now.

I promised her one of my assorted mustache stickers to make up for it.

Anyway, since I couldn’t calculate how many calories I was burning just by breathing, I went out and got the paper. There was a front page follow up to a story that ran earlier this week about a blind woodworker who builds benches for gifts for his grandkids and for the children in his neighborhood. An earlier story had been about someone breaking into his shop and stealing his tools and about how now he wouldn’t be able to make his Christmas presents.

After the first story, gobs of fabulous people descended upon him with tools and cash and offers to help him catch up with his Christmas bench list in time for the holiday. He received so much, in fact, that he planned to distribute what he didn’t need to other blind woodworkers (I know. There are other blind woodworkers?).

… which would have made this the story of how I found out how many calories I burn bawling at the kitchen table on Christmas morning while reading a story in the paper about holiday kindness.

Except it isn’t.

Because my gadget still Isn’t. Freaking. Working.


If you happen to be grateful for anything at all today, the favor of a vote would be most appreciated. Thank you.


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  1. If I could send an attachment in the comments, I\’d send one of myself in a stick-on mustache! Strange to think that other women are receiving mustaches as gifts.

    I hope your fitness trackers are working today! Have fun with them!

    1. They are now working splendidly, thank you. I can\’t tell yet about the mustaches. Haven\’t tried them. We must move in strange circles to be getting facial hair as gifts. Oh well.

  2. I love mustaches (to clarify: the fake stick-on kind), you can send those my way. I know, I\’m weird like that. I also love all the funny/goofy hats and wigs my boys acquire. A Facebook friend had posted how the tracker site was down. Yeah, guess that sucked for all (customers and employees). Funny, (but not actually funny) about your mom and the turtleneck. I\’ve done similar things like that (and then felt like a doofus). 🙂

  3. So, you kind of just bolstered my case for NOT exercising, as I\’m enjoying a big plate of ham -n- eggs while I read this and experiencing no stress at all while I do so. Thanks!