Dear complaint department…


“I believe in grumbling; it is the politest form of fighting known.” Edgar Watson Howe

Some days, stupid things bug me more than on other days, and today is one of those days.

Stupid can be okay, because it takes one’s focus off of bigger problems – at least temporarily. And when I complain, I usually preface the complaint with, “I know there are starving kids around the world, catastrophic illnesses and injuries, but…” and then I get said complaint purged from my system.

So…here goes. My complaint of the day is…

I will be a chaperone/driver for a field trip this week. After raising kids for over 27 years and counting, I still enjoy field trips, hanging with my kids and their friends, and feeling like I am helping out at school. But… I have seen some real stupid paperwork come home from school over the past two decades, and I have to say, this one is the topper.

Doing due diligence, I filled out my “Parent’s Form” to include name; insurance company; make, model and year of car; number of seat belts, noting that students won’t be allowed to ride without being belted in; blah, blah, blah. Okay, important stuff.

And then this: “Parents, no smoking on the field trip.”


So, as a more-than-qualified field trip parent, and a once smoker/ex-smoker/social smoker, I was a bit irritated. Have smokers become “evil?”Let’s not forget to mention that one can’t smoke in restaurants, on school grounds, in the museum, in a library, at the zoo, at hospitals and most other places that are field trip destinations, so was that line really necessary?

Personally, I find that somewhat insulting. Isn’t that a given? Don’t most parents know that we are setting good examples for our children and being ambassadors of the school? Honestly, if we are going demonize a bad habit on a field trip, why stop at one?

So, if smokers can’t smoke on the field trip, then parents using other devices as their vices are advised that the following bad habits and behaviors are also not tolerated:

  • No texting while driving.
  • No chatting on the phone while driving.
  • No drinking alcohol while driving.
  • No swearing on the field trip (I will cut you some slack while driving).
  • No road rage while driving.
  • No eating while driving.
  • No applying make-up or shaving while driving.
  • No reading while driving.
  • No sniffing glue while driving.
  • No medicinal marijuana while on the trip.
  • No Slurpees or Big Gulps or overeating.
  • No nose- or teeth-picking while driving.
  • Hide your tattoo(es).
  • No bastardizing, demonizing, politicizing or proselytizing.

When looking for volunteers, why this handy-dandy list will eliminate the scourge of the Earth from even thinking of assisting!

Seriously, I, of course, am not defending bad habits, just adding a layer of humor to a society that is hell-bent on making some people’s bad habits worse than others. Just offering a reality check that maybe folks shouldn’t be condescending to others, just because one’s choice of a bad habit is different from another’s.

We’re all human. Everyone has bad habits. Let’s start giving folks a little credit for being smart enough to discern the situation and do the right thing. Most people will behave responsibly, even without a note from the principal…

Do you get irked over stupid statements? Let me know in the comments section!

© 2013 – Lynne Cobb

13 Replies to “Dear complaint department…”

  1. Thank you! It’s not illegal to smoke. I’m an ex-smoker myself (as you well know!) And you’re right. Since you can’t do it inside, is it really going to matter if a parent steps away and goes outside for a smoke break?

  2. Great post, Lynne. I really like your list of “things not to do”. I remember those days, when we would get memos like this from school that made us feel like we were the student instead of the parent. Aside from some of the misspellings in the memos, I believe that sometimes, school administrators lose sight of who they are addressing. They forget we are adults, not their students. There were a few times where we couldn’t stop laughing about the memo. I guess we just have to take it with a grain of salt and get a laugh out of it!

    1. I like my list, too! LOL! I could have gone further…And you’d be shocked and appalled at some of the stuff that comes home…

  3. I can only imagine what the principals see that makes them feel the need to emphasize the obvious…I’m a teacher and course coordinator so i do spend some time in the principal’s office (working not scolded , jeje) and we get to see and listen to parents thus understanding a bit more where children’s ways stem from… The same goes for the monthly note the school sends reminding us to pay tuition…isn’t it obvious, a huge chunk of our family budget goes to them som how could we forget?!, and still many parents don’t pay… Such is ‘parenting’ life! 🙂 read you soon, enjoy the field trip, Alexandra

    1. Thanks, Alexandra! I know that school administrators have a wide audience to gear messages toward…I just don’t the “dumbed down” attitude! 😉

      1. I agree Lynne… It’s like when we’re with the children all day talking how we talk to them and then the husband arrives and we use the same tone on him…oops!

  4. Spot on, Lynne! I used to be a social smoker too … and lord, there’s s much worse we could do, as you aptly point out.

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