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License plate frames were recently proclaimed by a friend to be one of her biggest pet peeves. She is so devoted to purity on her car, she removed her company brand the minute she brought it home. So I now see license plate frames everywhere, and I don’t find them annoying, but instead I think about what it must be like to be so annoyed while driving by these little rectangles.

Pet peeves are just singling out things we find annoying. Maybe we secretly like being annoyed by things.

Some are annoyed by litter; I used to be too. Then I started to take a bag with me on walks to pick up litter, and it was amazing. I could actually change the environment around me — and within me — just by picking up a few bottles and wrappers.

Residing on the south end of town, I frequent the light at Circle and Roosevelt. No longer am I annoyed by drivers who wait to signal their intent to turn left after the two-minute red light turns green, I simply changed my strategy. I do not have to gamble behind that car, but go straight into the lane that caters to people who value the use of turn signals.

Merging traffic on I-290 is not a pet peeve because it is actually fun. I get to use it as a teachable moment of “everyone takes a turn.” Traffic jams are “my jam.” I’m ready for the driver who tries to fake me out by taking the Austin exit before suddenly zipping back into 290 traffic. At the 25th Ave.-Mannheim Road exit extension, it is just an opportunity to appreciate taking turns. We’re all in this jam together. 

Blocking an intersection might have been a previous peeve of mine, but I love being the car that creates the opportunity to allow an open intersection (especially at Elgin/Madison, Wilcox/Desplaines, and at the entrance to the Community Center on Jackson). I certainly have been the recipient of such a space and with great appreciation, I have shared a head nod or a wave, the greatest signal of a grateful driver. Such acts are little gifts and so easy to do.

“Middle of the road dropper-offers” on Ferdinand behind Field and FPMS in the morning before school do not have the power to peeve me anymore. Without asking, I get to see a performance from our finest community outreach stewards, a Forest Park police officer, who steps out of his car and takes a few moments to speak to the repeat offenders every day. I’m so curious to hear what he says that I’ve considered doing the drop-off in the middle of the road, too, so I can get the extra attention, but haven’t had the courage yet. 

Icy sidewalks used to get me down, but luckily I love to shovel snow, especially making a path for others to use. I imagine while shoveling the possible happiness I have created for our mail carrier, who can safely travel along for a few houses, as if on a spring day, to bring us our mail. Carving a path as far as I can in the time allowed is one of my favorite things to do with every snowfall. 

Running late is a pet peeve to some. No problem for me; I know your time is very valuable and, like a surprise package, the latecomer will show up and make the meeting or work space a better place when they do. 

I used to be annoyed when I saw pacified children in stores, restaurants, at the zoo, transfixed by their handheld screens. Bored children is so out of fashion today and it has made me aware of how appreciative I am of the local heroes who volunteer to coach soccer, lead scouts, or teach in schools. Screen-free activities are precious and human interaction is so wonderful, especially when we’re starving for it. 

Like the sun rises, so does that former resident and gym teacher who always makes the same comment on any District 91 article in the Forest Park Review. Been at it for years, taking the time to paste his singular simple comment. I used to find it annoying but have discovered that I actually anticipate it, and have even timed it. The consistency is like crust on pie, familiar no matter what the filling. He is a reminder that sideline criticism seldom changes anything, but being grateful, present, and kind builds the strongest bonds in a community, and anyone can do it.

I didn’t know it was a thing, but yes, there are some who are annoyed when people discard their dog’s duty in a secured bag in an alley trash bin. The unpredictable nature of these moments are really opportunities in disguise. Together we can celebrate cleanliness in the community and be grateful for sharing resources.

The life-giving transformation that occurs when breathing and chewing with others, is not annoying when paired with some music. Simply elevating the eating experience with audible art brings a little extra zest to the whole family.

Maybe pet peeves are just little windows into ourselves, stepping on our Zen, interrupting our bliss, allowing us to be whatever change we want to be. 

Little gifts to enjoy and be grateful for.

  • Out of turn mergers
  • Tv use in cars
  • Undisciplined kids
  • Using light mode, not Dark mode

When people who relocate out of Forest Park tell current residents their unsolicited critique of local issues

  • Chewing loudly