Gary Brown: Complaints a way of life even way back when

Gary Brown

So the way I’ve got history figured is the trip west on a wagon train was a long ordeal –– one during which the wagons ahead of a settler were slowpokes and the wagons behind him were tailgating idiots, even without a rearview mirror to mumble into.

Besides that, they all had their own wagon mates to deal with.

“Look, we finally started to make good time. Do you really want me to pull over so you can go in the weeds? We’ll lose our place in line, and these guys will get to settle on all the good land.”

It probably didn’t make sense, but before the day was done, that same guy at the reins probably announced to his children that he’d had “just about enough of that racket back there” and if “somebody doesn’t settle down, I’m going to pull this wagon over and ...”

Well, we’ve all been in that kind of back seat before.

Irritation of the ages

People are people, and it’s difficult for me to believe that the same sorts of things that irritate us today didn’t cause a little consternation for our ancestors. My family came from both England and Ireland, so I’m sure there were words about one side feeding us too much fish and chips and the other side serving an inordinate amount of stew.

Just getting on the boat to come over probably was a hassle. A lot of immigrants wanted to get to America in those days, and the lines at the dock likely were long. My family alone probably created quite a ruckus at the check-in counter — complete with toe-tapping and impatient sighs — waiting with rolling eyes for the Scottish guy ahead of them to finish arguing with the ticket agents about whether he was allowed to board the boat with one trunk or two.

Face it, we’re impatient people and we probably always have been. Only the technology has changed. We get to whine about having to sit through commercial after loud commercial while we watch TV, but people more than a century might have complained that “I can’t go anywhere in this town anymore without some medicine guy yelling over at me and trying to sell me some magic elixir ...”

Complaints throughout history

Eve probably complained about Adam’s snoring.

Noah might have thrown a fit and asked, “How many times did I tell you? We needed two of everything. What are we going to do with the one unicorn? ...”

You think that the burning of Rome could have been because crazy neighbors heard Nero’s fiddling before the blaze, and not just during it?

Sure, we respect John Hancock’s huge signature on the Declaration of Independence now, but back in 1776, maybe the other signers just shook their heads and said, “That’s Hank being Hank, always got to be more colonial than the rest of us.”

Frankly, I don’t think we’ve changed much. Things bother us. Always have.

No doubt the people on that wagon train complained that the price of supplies had gone up since those who went west before them made the trip — and the size of the barrels had gotten smaller.

Likely, they couldn’t figure out why the trail wasn’t smoother or straighter, since “our tax money is paying for this.”

Even after they got to the West, they might not have been satisfied.

“Nobody told us there would be this many bugs.”