As much as I hate to admit it, I hail from a long line of complainers.
If professional griping was actually a thing, it would be something the women in my family would be experts in the field.
Granny often thought complaining was the best way to get action.
I think sometimes the old gal looked for opportunities to complain.
She complained if the grocery bagger put too many items in her bag and fussed if he didn’t put enough.
She complained when the paper got wet in the rain, only to call and complain she couldn’t get it out of the bag that kept it dry the next week.
She voiced her complaints to the preacher about his sermons and whether or not she thought he had used the correct scripture and chastised him for using too many pop culture references. Weeks later, she told him he needed to appeal to the younger generation because a church without youth was dead.
“The only way to get any dadblamed thing done is to tell people what they did wrong,” she stated one day.
My grandfather peered over his paper at her, his lips pursing to blow a whistle.
“What kind of comment are you about to make, Bob?” she asked.
“Nothing,” he said.
“Uh huh, you was about to say something.”
She eyed him cautiously as if daring him to start an argument.
“I wasn’t going to say a word, Chicken,” he began. “But I was wondering if you think the fussing and complaining is what gets things done or if it is just people want you to hush and go away?”
Granny chewed the inside of her mouth in thought for a moment, another one of her annoying like quirks I picked up over the span of a lifetime.
“Does it matter as long as I get what I want?”
Pop nodded slowly, knowing it didn’t.
Mama’s brand of complaining was more formal.
She was active in her union and believed in exercising her rights.
Like one day when she burst into my room to use the phone to call the president of her union.
Her complaint: her branch was having dinner parties for the people on the day shift and not the night shift.
“Is that really something to complain about?” I asked.
“Absolutely,” she said. “It is not fair. The day shift gets a longer lunch that is catered; they get special treatment on the company’s dime and we don’t. We do the same job just at different times. Fair is fair, Kitten.”
She would often complain about poor customer service, too, but seeing her use her powers for the greater good gave me the impression that complaining did indeed get things done.
Having those fine examples of how to complain set the bar mighty high.
But I, if I do have to brag, can exceed their expectations.
I have the power of the internet in which to send a customer service complaint, something I have done numerous times regarding troublesome issues.
The FCC, FTC, and several other alphabet agencies probably recognize my email at this point.
Mama had never thought about using the internet to file a complaint until I offered to send one for her a few years ago.
She was amazed.
“You mean you can email them and tell them how upset I am?” she asked, her voice full of awe.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Oh, my,” she said. “Would you do that?”
I told her I would.
And thusly, I created a whole new level in which Mama could voice her lamentations.
Like a few weeks ago, she called to tell me she no longer had one of her channels.
“I had it yesterday and today it is gone,” she said. “I don’t even watch NCIS anymore, but I still pay for that channel and prefer to not watch something of my own volition; not because they stole it.”
I assured her no one was channel thieving, but she did not believe me.
“Can you do the Google to see who you need to complain to?” she asked. “Do you have time to make a complaint for me?”
Truly, I didn’t. I had a store that was overcharging on their advertised sale items and a cell service provider that was not letting texts go through for days on my own to-complain list.
“Well, if only I had the internet, I could file my own complaint. Maybe you will find the number for me when you get a spare second. You know, since I would do that for you.”
I sighed again. Passive aggressive mothering won again.
“I’ll do it, Mama,” I promised.
“Oh, thank you!” she said. “I have a few others I may send you later, too. Can you do those as well?”
I told her I would; it may be later, but I would file her complaints on her behalf.
But I was going to need a nap first.
Because you know what?
Complaining is exhausting.