Surely you have noticed. I can’t be the only one.

There is a campaign afoot, and has been going on for some time, to make life unnecessarily unpleasant. Life is hard on its own, of course. And people can be greedy and stupid. But there are people out there beavering away to make life definitely and pointedly worse, in full awareness of the fact and getting paid for it. Let me count the ways. A few.

Plastic packages cannot be opened without special tools. For meat, you often need at least a sturdy large pair of scissors. For tools, for example, scissors begin to fail and wire cutters come in handy. But to pull the tool from the cut package, you need pliers.

Calling some clinic or store brings you into a maze of pushing this and that button; it is near impossible to find a live person. I imagine some bureaucrat feeling particularly victorious if the system is designed so that after spending considerable time in the thicket of “press this” and “press that” the voicemail  hangs up on you. But first forcing you to listen to dozens of messages from malevolent voices telling you endlessly your call is important to them.

Our ears have become unprotected public property into which any commercial ear-thief feels free to pour one ad or infomercial after another. Hospitals are particularly brazen in this regard, especially considering that often the people calling are already not feeling so well. And what used to be somewhat bearable muzak has become mind-numbing computer-generated noise which is becoming progressively uglier and creepier.

I have begun to taper down my use of benzodiazepines. When I showed at the pharmacy, I was told that the two separate dosages of temazepam, making tapering possible, are rather expensive. I was surprised: temazepam is generic and the 30 mg caps have cost me about 30 dollars a month. Now, the 22.5 + 7.5 mg cost me over $250. I was told they did not know why, and to “call corporate.” You know how that call went. I’ll never have that miserable hour of my life back. In addition, I was told that my lorazepam could not be dispensed, because I picked up my supply (of 7 pills) too recently. Now, I picked up both lorazepam and temazepam at the same time, so why did they give me one and not the other? Ah, but bullying customers is so much fun, making up new rules as you go, and the less sense they make, the better. After all, there is no responsibility and the clerk knows nothing. Better call corporate. [You might as well bang your head against the wall.]

When I traveled the big roads from Florida to Colorado, I noticed that driving had become a white-knuckle affair because in many places the noise strips on the side of the road have encroached into driving space. In fact, Texas has signs at its borders that the roads there are much better, “please move here.” Well, they are a bit better, but not by much. And as I went, I followed a crew that was making them worse as I drove – I actually caught up with the road crew somewhere north of Ft. Worth. But Louisiana was the worst. I amused myself while driving trying to figure out the logic behind the system. I actually got out of the truck and followed the marks on the side of the road that showed how the “screech strips” moved progressively closer and closer to the white paint, in many places moving even past it. It made driving hell. Have the road bureaucrats subscribed to a fanatical anti-car philosophy intending to make driving as miserable as possible? If you do that, more people will stay home or ride a bike? Or trying to make truckers particularly out of sorts, wanting to quit to make room for robots? It’s not for safety – if it were, the strips could have stayed by the middle of the shoulder where they used to be. When I got to Colorado, they had not hit my area yet. But they did a few weeks later. A great deal of fast money has been poured into this project.

There is a new and frantically advertised shop near Dallas called Buccee’s. And indeed people were being bussed there in droves to shop in a creepy store that has done everything so that people interact only with things and machines, never other people. They have not succeeded altogether but are working on it. When you gather your food, you find there is no place to sit, or even to stand at a counter. And canvas chairs being advertised at the exit have signs on them yelling: “Don’t sit on me!” Apparently things have a right to consideration but people don’t. “Come to Buccee’s where things are treated like people and people like things!” Hm. A store that has “social distancing” already built into the design, long before covid. Isn’t that interesting.

Waiting to shed some of the dust of the road, I walked awhile around the vast parking lot and noticed that strange buildings were being landscaped right up from the store. I kept looking at them, trying to figure out why they seemed so peculiar. Then I knew. Each unit was two and a half metal shipping containers glued together and made to resemble a living space. This is the future of America our corporate masters are already making a reality. Turning everything into crap, and turning people into isolated ciphers that matter not a whit. As though modern architecture already did not turn cities depressing as it is. Now we go quite a few notches cheaper, unhealthier and uglier still.

The roads around Dallas-Ft Worth have been a nightmare for years. But as someone who has traveled them several times going north, I was non-plussed to find that the branch-offs toward Wichita Falls (and they are a maze) have basically had their markers either removed, or left so weather-beaten as being nearly invisible. I drove in sheer terror of losing my way until well out of the city, when finally the road began to be clearly marked again. And miracle of miracles, for a few miles before getting to Amarillo, the screech strips moved more toward the center of the shoulder. I cheered. I don’t doubt the screech enforcers have gotten there in the meantime.

At my stay at a corporate chain motel in north Texas, I first encountered corporate food. Much, much worse than “fast food.” It was right inedible. Fake eggs with fake sausage with fake buns. Yum! The other day, after many years, I resorted to Starbucks. And guess what? Instead of a cheese danish, I got corp-crap. A thin tasteless slab of dough smeared with something that never got closer to cheese than the cheesecake next to it on display. It certainly did not taste like cheese, although it probably had “natural cheese flavoring” made in the lab added. But hey, the lab did not care. They don’t have to.

Where is Lily Tomlin when you need her? And I haven’t even gotten to covid.

We don’t care. We don’t have to. We are the _____ company.