Festivus: Your top complaints and grievances of 2023

We asked for readers’ petty complaints, and they delivered once again.
Festivus, the holiday "Seinfeld" introduced in 1997, is celebrated by characters on the show on Dec. 23 and features a Festivus pole. Here, a scene from the episode, "The Strike," featuring the pole.
Festivus, the holiday "Seinfeld" introduced in 1997, is celebrated by characters on the show on Dec. 23 and features a Festivus pole. Here, a scene from the episode, "The Strike," featuring the pole. [ Courtesy of Sony TV ]
Published Dec. 12, 2023|Updated Dec. 18, 2023

Why are the Tampa Bay Times and others around the world still celebrating Festivus, a holiday introduced by a beloved 1997 “Seinfeld” episode? Because the Festivus tradition of the Airing of Grievances shows what’s on people’s minds these days, provides a cathartic way to put the year’s annoyances behind us and because it’s funny.

Top trends in this year’s complaints were inflation, Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce and, mostly, the snubbing of the Florida State football team from the College Football Playoff. Still, some time-honored gripes made yet another appearance — bad shopping cart etiquette, public speakerphone talkers, politicians of every variety and, of course, the parking at Trader Joe’s. Here’s a selection of this year’s grievances.


Teenage boys answering every question/text with “ok.” Did you do your homework? Ok. Are you home? Ok. Did you eat yet? Ok. Why aren’t you answering my texts? Ok. As your mom, please, I need more information from you! — Carybeth Hobbs, St. Petersburg

My wife referring to the pet stroller as my “walker” while people nod sadly as I walk by. — Darrell Patterson, Tampa

When you bring a bucket of meatballs to the theme park to graze from like a modern feed bag and halfway through the day your wife dumps them out because, “You shouldn’t eat meat from a bucket!” — Rick Clarke, St. Petersburg

Rick Clarke's meatball bucket.
Rick Clarke's meatball bucket. [ Photo courtesy of Rick Clarke's wife ]

People who tell me about their “wild” dreams. Why? I don’t care, it didn’t happen, and it’s usually not wild. Looking at you hubs. — A.V.B., Toronto

Why do I have to say goodbye every time I leave the house, even just go to the grocery store? Can we just stop with all the “bye!” — Matt D., Denver

The baby boomers in my life still call me a kid and say my handwriting is bad. I turned 30 this year. I’m the only one who knows how to fix all their computer, phone and printer problems. I’m not doing it anymore! — Sara DeSouza, Deerfield Beach

My brother refuses to allow any news articles of any kind be sent to him, including the news about this Festivus thing you are doing. Sheeesh! — Alex Simms, Daly City, California

My husband retired about a year ago. I thought he would find at least one new hobby, but now I know the truth. I am going to spend the rest of my life listening to the same old stories for hours and hours, until the sweet release of death finally grants me some peace and quiet. — Pattie Cloud, Madeira Beach

My purpose on this planet is not to be the one that turns your balled-up, dirty, vile socks inside out. Enjoy your freshly laundered, but still dirty, wet balls of socks. Also, you missed the basket. — Missy Vedder, Salem, Oregon

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Car insurance commercials. Oh, it’s a fun bit with an emu or a cartoon general? Car insurance commercials should do one thing: show me a rate and a response time for when some nitwit rear-ends me because they were “dancing” for some social media cesspool. — Jacob Campbell, South Bend, Indiana

My Spotify Wrapped said I was a “vampire,” which made me feel cool, edgy and unique, but then everyone I know posted that they also got vampire, so I am in fact not cool, edgy or unique. — Christopher Spata, Tampa Bay Times reporter

At the end of “The Sandlot” they say “Bertram got really into the ‘60s” but they never explain what really happened. — John Bradley, New York, New York

Timothée Chalamet. I still don’t like him. — Lauren Peace, Tampa Bay Times reporter

Dear Tom Holland, I hate your face. I’m sorry, but it annoys me so much. You are probably a nice guy and all but I can’t deal with two hours at the cinema looking at you. — Ron, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

“X, formerly Twitter.” Do authors, columnists and news people in general think their readers all have a memory issue? Quit repeating yourself. — Marv Akers, Dade City

My friends claim to hate billionaires but love Taylor Swift. — Ben Deutsch, Brooklyn, New York


People who say: “OMG did you see the new (mediocre local chain) restaurant concept announced near the new luxury apartments being built in the neighborhood developed exclusively for rich people? Tampa is such a walkable city, stop complaining about the cost of living, losers!” — “Tired,” Tampa

I just want to stay in my hometown and be able to afford more than ramen. All of this expansion would be amazing if I actually got to enjoy any of it as a Tampa native. — Ashley Thomas, Tampa


When a server partially unwraps a wrapped straw just to stick it in my drink, thereby eliminating the sanitary condition that the restaurant paid extra for by not purchasing unwrapped straws. Just bring me the wrapped straw and I can handle the rest, and we can all go on pretending that you weren’t picking your nose earlier. — Kevin B. Schacter, Palm Harbor

Throwing a bunch of random ingredients together and calling it a “bowl.” Burrito bowl. Acai bowl. Buddha bowl. JUST SAY YOU’RE A CHILD WHO WANTS ALL THE LETTUCE REMOVED FROM YOUR SALAD AND BE DONE WITH IT. Emily Austin, Memphis, Tennessee

Why aren’t there any sushi rolls with pickles. — Beren Christiansen, Tricities, Washington

There are a million breweries in Tampa Bay, but no quality winter beers. I want a beer brewed with cinnamon and spices, not a porter mixed with peppermint. — Robin Yount, Tarpon Springs

In every restaurant that offers an espresso-based drink, the espresso machine is all of a sudden not working after 9 p.m.? — Doug Wicks, Westchester, California

I ordered a sandwich from a deli and asked for tomato. They gave me only one slice and it was from the hard end where the stem had been. Seriously? — Doug Liebowitz, Plainview, New York

My friend Mike thinks Sprite is better than Lipton Brisk. — Ben Deutsch, Brooklyn, New York

My buddy Ben hates Sprite but for some reason loves Brisk iced tea. — Mike Sullivan, Raritan, New Jersey


Why are there no trash receptacles in front of Dollar General and Family Dollar stores? I have all these tissues and wrappers and receipts and have nowhere to put ‘em as I walk into the store. It’s piling up in all my pants and shirt pocket!” — Jim McConville, Dunedin

Barn doors on hotel bathrooms. A 2-inch flappy chasm is unacceptable in a small, shared space. Actually, all barn doors. They’re the laziest doors. They’re not doors at all. They’re wooden curtains. — Stephanie Hayes, Tampa Bay Times columnist

Everyone wants me to rate them after every visit. Rate my recent flight? Rate my dentist? Rate my colonoscopy? What do they want me to say? It was fabulous! — Barbara Goldstein, Lutz

They can put a man on the moon, why can’t they make a household refrigerator where the ice dispenser does not overfill the glass? — Mike Merek, Lakeland

I hate the word “dollop.” I hope Daisy sour cream respects my hatred of that word and that they remove it from their vocabulary and from their commercials. — DJ McGee, Houston

TussinDM cough syrup at Publix says “see new dosage.” The dose is double what it was before, but the bottle is the same size. It should really say “See new inflation.” — Kristen Roetzheim, Temple Terrace

Does the pharmacist really have to read aloud the name of the medication I’m picking up as if everyone around me needs to know about my frequent urination? — Bobby Jones, Lakeland

A self-checkout at a snack bar in the Newark airport asked me for a tip. — Auntie G., Glen Ridge, New Jersey

Why does every tradesman come into my home and insult the work done by the person that came before them? I picked the prior tradesman! — Kelly G., Phoenix

When you go to the doctor, fill out 13 pages of past medical history, medications, close encounters of the third kind, etc., and yet every med tech and eventually the doctor asks you those same questions. — Martha Kuska, Lithia

Advertisers, just because I bought something once doesn’t make us lovers, okay? I don’t read your daily emails, in fact I find them to be a turn-off. I feel if you really cared about me as a person you would know I need my space. — Josh Ritter, Tampa

Being asked in every single store whether I’m a rewards member or want to become one. Can’t buy so much as a candy bar without being quizzed or pressured to join a club that wants to sell my data. — Wanda O’Day, Tampa


Trump vs. Biden rematch. Are you kidding? Out of 330 million U.S. residents, this is the best we can do? — Rusty Shackleford, Safety Harbor

The library has been closed for YEARS. — Margaret Storm, St. Petersburg

Pinellas County having all these meetings and worries about the cost of rising rent but then they raise the taxes on non homestead properties the MAXIMUM of 10% every single year. What hypocrites! They know that cost is going to be passed on to renters. — Kate C., Gulfport

People in local government who address our traffic problems by talking about “Express Bus Lanes” and “flying cabs.” How about using what already works? Monorails have moved lots of people at Disney for lots of years. — Mike McElroy, San Antonio, Florida

We pay politicians six figures per year (plus an extremely high level of medical insurance) for them to work part time, and then not even do anything but bicker. When they are “working,” part of that time is devoted to getting reelected, so they are still not getting anything done. — Michaelene Jordan, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Seeing people fly the Betsy Ross Flag on the side of the highway in Florida. It drives me nuts because Florida is not one of the stars. Why? Spain owned Florida! It just makes the people of Florida look stupid! — “Betsy Ross,” Tampa

Children need an education / Without legislative intervention / Standardizing disinformation / The Laws are very stupid here. — David Lawrence, Tampa


Oh boy, the College Football Playoff. So, you’re telling me Florida State won 13 games for no reason? At least all 13 exhibition games were fun to watch. — Zane Watson, Boca Raton

Jumping for joy over spending $1.3 billion-plus for a new baseball stadium when that money could and should be used for so many other worthwhile causes to help the masses. — Rodger Kaputnik, St. Petersburg

Why haven’t the Bucs fired Todd Bowles? Nice guy but sheesh! — Holly Viola, Tierra Verde

We all love Gene Deckerhoff, but please, Gene, stop saying a “caught ball” when you mean a completed pass. — David Lubin, Tampa

Baker Mayfield hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves as a Buccaneer. Keep shaking and baking. — Jourdan Rogers, Largo

People need to stop leaning forward in their seats at the Lightning games. Your big head is blocking my view, forcing me to lean forward too, and making me feel guilt about obscuring the view of the person behind me. — Eileen Black, Largo

I bought a really cool Lightning jersey, but it’s too hot to wear it anywhere other than inside the arena. — Jake Epping, St. Petersburg


When people mix up leopard print with cheetah print it makes me want to puke. — Allen B., San Antonio, Texas

The microwave is a prominent clock in the kitchen. So when you look over to get a glimpse of the time and see :04 on the screen, it’s not helping anyone. I’m begging you to hit the “clear” button. — Neha Seenarine, Tampa Bay Times newsletter producer

My neighbor started this annoying, loud punk band that’s always banging on and on when I’m trying to work. Unfortunately, I’ve heard them so much that I kind of like them and sometimes find myself humming their songs. — Drew, Tampa

Can we please just stop the promposals — at least don’t put them anywhere I can see them. — Chris Burden, Riverview

Selfish groups of people who take up the entire width of the Riverwalk thinking their conversation is more important than sharing the space. — Darrell Patterson, Tampa

I saw people fishing at the Largo Central Park Nature Preserve. That is literally the opposite of preserving nature! — John Muir, Largo

The amount of nosepickings I’m finding in library books these days. — Lorenzo Dervani, London

Stop adding me to group texts! — Marc Butler, Waldorf, Maryland

When people text, why does everyone have the need to “like,” “agree,” “love,” “hate,” etc., which means I have to see my text again. Just read it and respond or not. — D. Kraemer, Tampa

If you ask a person how long they’ve been married as a conversation opener and they respond, “We’ve been married 12 years, but we’ve been together 18.” I never asked about the “together” part. That’s their idea of some sort of quasi-marriage for extra credit I imagine? — Ray Stewart, Clearwater

I don’t prefer Matt or Matthew, so stop asking. I. Don’t. Care. — Matthew (or Matt) Pressler, Beaverton, Oregon

There should be squatters’ rights on returning Tupperware. ... If months go by and you don’t ask for it back I think you’ve lost the right to claim that Tupperware as your own anymore. — Tom, Fairfax, Virginia

When I’m driving, passengers talking over GPS directions makes me crazy, especially when I miss both an important turn and the UNimportant thing passengers are yelling so that the GPS doesn’t interrupt them. — Linda Humphers, St. Petersburg

Yes, there is a San Antonio, Florida. Stop acting surprised when you discover that! — Mike McElroy, San Antonio, Florida

When you are in the self-checkout lane, you need to pay attention to when a station is open. I’m sick and tired of saying “Hey, I think that one is open.” — Kevin Guinan, Overland Park, Kansas

People who always start sentences with “as a matter of fact…” and it’s never actually factual. — Majel Ruth Stein, Alexandria, Virginia

My dental hygienist: “So, do you have any fun plans for the summer?” Me: “MUMPHERSUMPHINENF” — Jason Mazzo, Nashville, Tennessee

Retirees should stop hogging the camping reservations at Fort De Soto around the holidays. You are retired and able to camp anytime you want. Save the holiday reservation slots for us working folk! — Daniel Boone, Seminole

Women who talk in high-pitched baby voices, like come on, whose attention are you trying to attract, a child predator? — Sophia Swift, Lewisville, North Carolina

I am concerned about the excessive number of creepy comments left on the Hattricks Facebook page when they post photos of their servers. — Patrick, Tampa

What irritated me the most was when all my friends sang “Jingle Bells” in November. In November! — Catherine, Kyiv, Ukraine

People who don’t include vital information in a text: Them: “Do you want to catch a movie?” Me: “Sure! What movie? What day? What time?” Them: “Great! See you there!” — Allen Duzak, Alameda, California

People who eat the last of something and leave the empty box where it normally is. — Sandra Meraz, Santa Ana, California

Church organists around the globe are fed up with parishioners talking during the Prelude and Postlude! — Kathy Parkins, Durham, North Carolina

Why are random people just so annoying? — Max Carrart, Denver


Hiring manager required me to be on a home connection for interview. He missed said interview because he was not at his home and couldn’t establish a reliable connection! I asked to reschedule and never heard back from him. I got a fantastic gig with his direct competitor. — Charles Roman, Brandon

When are we going to stop opening every sales email with “I hope you are well”? I cannot be compelled to confirm to a stranger that I haven’t died. — Alex Braun, Chicago

As a teacher, I believe our “summer” vacation should take place during December and January. Let us enjoy our time off when the weather is beautiful instead of unbearably hot and humid. — Stu Redman, Clearwater

FaceTiming, Zooming, etc. Why? Why do we have to talk over video? I know what you look like. You know what I look like. We don’t need to see each other (and, frankly, I don’t want to see you). — Greg Adrouny, California


Why do Tampa residents have so much trouble learning to merge? — Glen Harrod, Tampa

Not being able to walk anywhere in downtown St. Pete without hitting 14 closed sidewalks. — Ellen Clarke, Tampa Bay Times assistant managing editor

Car lights! Some car lights are so bright these days I have night driving glasses on my Christmas list. — Kelly Roessler, Tampa

There’s always road work, and yet somehow, I still had to replace two wheels because of all the potholes. What are they working on all the time? And why is it only when I’m late for work? — Sadie Weisberg, Tampa

I don’t care if you’re with Uber, Lyft or DoorDash. You’re not driving a fire truck, don’t park in the fire lane. — Richard Pelton, Valrico

Why are all the traffic lights in downtown Tampa still turned on and operating on Gasparilla Day when the streets are closed? With no cars, the pedestrians don’t need them, either. — Rob Altus, Tampa

Golf carts trogging down Bayshore Boulevard in the left lane during rush hour. Maybe you hate your family and want to kill them? Why else are you loading up your spouse and kids into a tiny cart and then plodding along at a fraction of the speed limit, and doing it in the fast lane? It’d be a shame if you spilled your YETI tumbler full of Michelob Ultra or Kim Crawford chardonnay. — Amanda Black, Tampa


Gifts, am I right? Nobody can tell you what they want, nobody can say what they got you, nobody can know the price, you can’t talk about it, but yet if you don’t get the perfect gift, everyone’s got a problem. — Max Reisman, New York, New York


I felt fine until my husband installed grip bars in our shower. Now I feel old. — April Anderson, Croydon, New Hampshire

You can hang a Christmas tree ornament, have it face in the right direction and then, the next day, discover it has independently and annoyingly done an about-face and, no matter how many ways you twist it, refuses to go back to its original position. — Tom Takach, St. Petersburg

1. Things keep costing money. 2. “Macho men” in trucks being bullies in traffic. 3. Traffic. — Martha Asencio-Rhine, Tampa Bay Times photo director


The sidewalks surrounding every luxury apartment building have turned into moats of dog pee. Fragrant clouds of pee emanating from every bush and pile of mulch. — Claire McNeill, Tampa Bay Times enterprise editor

Dogs drinking out of human’s water fountains. It’s getting out of hand here in Southern California. Let them pay taxes and get their own water fountains. — Moose Lampe, San Diego

Just asking all the people who scoop and bag their dog’s poop and then leave the full bag on the trail. Why even bother?! What kind of demented game are you playing? — Frank Lee Madeer, Tucson, Arizona

I adopted two cats. The Humane Society of Tampa Bay put the big cat, 14 pounds, in a cardboard container. The cat scratched out a hole in the carrier and appeared next to me on the car’s armrest, then jumped up and walked across the dashboard and stood in front of the steering wheel ... while I was driving down Dale Mabry Highway. — Debbie Shifferd, Tampa

I don’t like to see dogs pooping. How about doggie restrooms? — Donna Meek, St. Petersburg


No matter how hard I try I just can’t make myself miserable. Good kids, good job. I think the economy is fine, country moving in the right direction, idiot drivers don’t upset me. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be like everyone else? — Reggie Dunlop, Johnstown, Pennsylvania