The Punch List

Many of us fume about our pet peeves, but Philip Gulley dreams of something more: payback.

Boxer getting punched in the face

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Like most writers, I’m a big believer in keeping lists, on the off chance I’m struck with a great idea and need to jot it down before it flies the coop. I also keep a list of things I need from the hardware store and a list of people I need to call and check on.

I have another list of the people I want to punch in the nose in the event I ever meet them, starting with the automotive engineer who moved the headlight controls from the floor of the car just left of the brake to the steering column, where I regularly confuse it with the windshield wiper switch, so when a car is coming toward me with its brights on, rather than blinking my lights, I squirt washer fluid all over my windshield instead. It’s probably the same engineer who ditched the little triangle window that swung open to bring fresh air into the car.

In the kitchen cabinet beside our refrigerator is our battery drawer containing various sizes of batteries — AAs, AAAs, Cs, Ds, and 9-volts, plus two button batteries for a Timex watch I lost several years ago and haven’t yet replaced. I’ll concede the need for special watch batteries, but why can’t everything else use the same battery size so I don’t have to waste an entire kitchen drawer storing all the batteries I might conceivably use? Smoke detectors are the worst. If a clock can run on one AA battery, why can’t a smoke detector run on 2 AA batteries for half the price of a 9-volt battery? The guy who decided smoke detectors should use 9-volt batteries ought to be punched in the nose.

For years, C and D batteries powered flashlights; then the LED bulb was invented, and now most flashlights use AA batteries. But I must keep C and D batteries on hand in case we have a power outage and I need batteries for our radio, which could have easily been designed to use AA batteries. I can’t help but wonder if the radio manufacturer also owns the same factory that makes C and D batteries. I wouldn’t put anything past a battery factory owner.

I own five motorcycles and three cars, all of them using 12-volt batteries, though none are the same size. I can understand why a motorcycle battery should be smaller than a car battery, but why can’t all motorcycle batteries be one size and all car batteries another? Why doesn’t the battery in my 2016 Toyota Camry fit my 2015 Subaru Forester, and why don’t either one of them fit my 2013 Ford Flex? Why does one of them have terminal posts on the side of the battery and the other two on the top? The store where I buy my batteries has an entire wall of car batteries, varying in size and amperage. This doesn’t include the batteries for boats, lawn mowers, motorcycles, four-wheelers, and golf carts, which are on another wall. There’s an organization called the Battery Council International, founded in 1924, which helps coordinate the manufacture, use, and recycling of automotive batteries. From what I can tell, they’ve failed miserably, and their entire staff should be punched in their noses.

Back to the battery drawer next to my refrigerator: Why can’t all refrigerators be the same size? The space for our refrigerator is too small for most modern refrigerators, while the openings for our stove and dishwasher have happily accommodated a half dozen stoves and dishwashers over the years. If ever someone deserved to be on the nose-punching list, it’s the guy who designed refrigerators.

Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor and author of 22 books, including the Harmony and Hope series, featuring Sam Gardner.

This article is featured in the May/June 2022 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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  1. Bob: You get a bit violent in your images. Be careful or the Quakers will come after you.

    I really identify with Philip’s comment about windshield wiper. It happens often to me. What I wish for is a car wash facility that doesn’t make me get out and do the work. If I wanted to work I could just stay home and get out the hose. No, that doesn’t works. I live in a retirement home that has a self-wash area and it is filled with junk. I would file a protest, but we don’t have a resident administrator right now. We are in the inbetween area for an administrator.

  2. You make a lot of good points here; actually too many. I totally agree on the (bright) headlight controls being moved from the upper left of the brake, to the steering column ‘pod’ loaded up with waaay too much all right there. I’d also like to punch whomever came up with making the bright lights as blinding as the sun. I wear my sunglasses at night so I can minimize that when driving then, when I have to.

    I miss the little pivoting air/vent window too. My mom used it a lot in the hot weather when we had the ’61 Falcon station wagon. They do away with nice features and act like they’re doing YOU a favor, when it’s a cheaper way out for THEM. One piece glass, and “forcing” you to buy $$ a/c. Same with the quarter windows that would roll down on coupes before being replaced with stationary windows. This was around the time the doors got much longer on coupes “for easier access to the rear seats!”

    God (sorry) the whole battery thing is enough to drive you crazy, and may I add the sheer number of remotes needed now??! It’s staggering and confusing. I have friends that argue and fight over who misplaced the remote that does this or that! “What does that one look like?” “THE ONE THAT LOOKS LIKE THE FRIGGIN’ MOBILE PHONE, JEN!” It’s awful, and I’m sure it’s a VERY common source of fights across the country.

    It was originally a nice option (’50s-’70s) if you wanted to change the channel or lower/raise the sound level without getting up, but if misplaced you could still do whichever from the right side of the TV YOURSELF! TV’s and cars now also have what, 400-600 page handbooks for use??! Whatever committees let this situation get SO far out of control should be locked in an old refrigerator, or dropped into a 2022 dumpster; like in a certain Charleton Heston film!!


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