"What’s Your Problem?" You mean I have to decide?

Do you ever read that column in the Tribune by Jon Yates called “What’s Your Problem?” I love that column. If you’ve ever found yourself backed into a corner by “the man” and you can’t seem to get the attention of a person to help you out when you’re stuck in some computerized phone hell, then you would love that column, too. Like for instance yesterday's, when Yates wrote about helping some woman who had a ticket. The New Jersey Turnpike insisted she owed them money, even though the woman and her car weren’t anywhere near New Jersey when the incident happened. It was cool to hear how Yates was able to wield the awesome power of the Fourth Estate to get it all solved. Because nobody wants to look like a mean and incompetent idiot in the Chicago Tribune, not even the New Jersey Turnpike.

But whenever I read the column, especially the title, “What’s Your Problem?” I always just want to laugh. Or maybe cry. You mean I can have only one? Now, granted, my problems are not as terrifying as having the New Jersey Turnpike breathing down my neck demanding $54.60, but on any given day, I have more than one. Like the new garbage can I just bought that already has a broken pedal on it so every time you step on it to open the lid, the whole can tips over. And then there’s the dog. She’s had an upset stomach of late and has been barfing on the only patch of carpeting we have on the first floor. Our new (2010) car—of course not the ’99 Camry that’s had a busted-out headlight since 2001—has something, paint or tar in black little splotches all over the front that won’t come out.

Okay, so our myriad of problems are little ones. (Knock on wood) No one is sick and no one is dying and none of them is life threatening, unless maybe the dog barfs on my oriental rug again (just kidding, PETA!) But I would like to meet someone who has only one problem. And shake their hand. And ask them how they do it. Then again, I think I’d rather have a life with a whole lot of little problems than a life with only one big one, a problem that requires calling in a pro. And it does kind of make me sad that the businesses so often featured in “What’s Your Problem?” are often so belligerent, incompetent and/or obtuse that they don’t respond to customers and it takes the threat of negative publicity in a huge regional newspaper to make them do the right thing.

Hey, wait. Isn’t that kind of ubiquitous corporate attitude everyone’s problem?


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