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Down on the Farm -- People who ...

Often people will ask me, "Why don't you write a column about people who..."

You can fill in the blank with any number of annoyances committed by People Who.

Last week, somebody brought up People Who steal plants from cemeteries. What kind of person could drive out to a graveyard, take a pot of flowers off somebody's grave and then look at them on their front porch for the rest of the summer?

Obviously, they are People Who don't have a conscience. Obviously, they are People Who you wouldn't want for a neighbor.

Another idea: "Why don't you write about People Who come to funerals just for the food?"

OK, that's an idea. But as good as funeral food is around here, I don't know how many of us are completely innocent of the charge that the decision whether to go to a funeral might have been swayed by the possibility of a plateful of three-bean hot dish at about noon.

Another popular gripe are People Who talk loudly on cell phones in public. My personal favorite came from a pastor who told of a parishioner who took a call in the middle of the sermon.

Cell phones are a source of all kinds of atrocities committed by People Who. People Who talk while driving. People Who take calls in restaurants. People who don't shut off their ringer before the choir concert.

But as the proud new owner of a cell phone that is on me at all times, I don't want to start pointing fingers. After all, I might forget to shut off the ringer before an important meeting.

In order to complain about People Who, their offense has to be something that you know darn well you would never commit yourself.

For instance, I don't have a dog. So I can complain long and loudly about those crazy People Who leave their poor little yipper in the car with the window cracked and go inside to shop, oblivious to the constant barking that will echo throughout the parking lot.

I don't have kids, so I can complain about People Who don't take their crying kids out of a concert and instead bounce them up and down -- which adds a nice vibrato to the kid's wailing but otherwise does little apparent good.

I don't have a car alarm, so I can complain at length about people who set their car alarms to hair trigger so they go off at the slightest breeze and beep, beep, beep for 10 agonizing minutes.

As for the people who steal cemetery planters, I would be utterly incredulous that anybody could do such a thing except for that I was a kid once and I know that kids have underdeveloped cerebral cortexes.

The part of a kid's brain that is less developed is the part that considers the consequences of one's actions. Sometimes, in the name of impressing peers and having fun, actions get committed which fall under the People Who category.

Moving a real estate sign from a home for sale onto the lawn of the Catholic Church sounds funny, but the People Who did it probably didn't realize that it might ruin some realtor's Monday.

Filling an unlocked car to the brim with leaves might seem funny to the People Who did it, except when the elderly person with heart trouble who owns the car can't make it to a doctor's appointment on time the next morning as a result.

In fact, People Who commit most People Who atrocities aren't often motivated by hostility. Usually they are young, drunk or both at once.

When we imagine People Who go off road with their pickup and spin looies on somebody's lawn we conjure up images of people actually planning the atrocity as a way of getting back at somebody they don't like.

In fact, People Who do such stupid things are usually just that: Stupid. Either they are rendered temporarily stupid by substances, or by peer pressure, or by the thrill of the moment.

Although I often lay awake plotting revenge fantasies against People Who steal cemetery flowers -- like booby-trapping the planters with exploding canisters of skunk juice -- it is probably a waste of time.

Instead, it is best to think back on the stupid things I have done and be thankful that this time, at least, the People Who wasn't me.