Nancy Roman

Complaint Department

Yesterday, still in bed, I resolved to have a full day without a complaint.

I lasted until 11:00 AM.

When the telemarketer called.

I complain. You complain. My dog complains. Everyone complains.

I bet the Dalai Lama complains that the place is too damn quiet.

It’s only natural. I mean, there’s so much out there whose purpose seems to revolve around irritating us.

But I think I would be happier if I didn’t complain so much. Because complaining exists to remind us of how unhappy we are.

When I think about complaints, I see that there are various categories of complaints.

Benign Complaints.

That’s the stuff that everyone complains about – mostly just out of habit or as a filler for conversation. The Weather. That’s probably Number One. Getting Old goes in this bucket… for the most part anyway. Getting up in the morning. No one expects you to solve any of these complaints. But we agree they are universal. No one is really hurt, no one is really mad. So go right ahead – everyone will agree with you, and so those complaints feel pretty good.

Situational Complaints.

All minor aggravations that depend on whether you encounter them and in what mood. Dog poop is a good example. It’s not so bad from a distance, but considerably irritating in a flipflop. Potholes. Pens that won’t write. And any interactions with utility companies, cable TV, or telemarketers. It’s hard to avoid complaining about this stuff, and folks are bound to agree with you. The danger is that situational complaints are cumulative. A dripping sink and dead phone and a cat sharpening its claws on your leather recliner can add up to a melt-down at your in-laws.

Righteous Complaints.

This is the stuff we SHOULD complain about. Inequities in education and health care. Racial, religious, or gender inequalities. The abuse of the vulnerable – children, animals, the aged. The destruction of our environment. We should complain loudly – and constructively. Assemble, protest, vote.

Noxious Complaints.

These complaints are hurtful. Some in small ways – some more serious. But they hurt. They hurt others because they are almost always personal. And they hurt you because they can fill up your space with dissatisfaction. There will always be someone more successful than you, richer than you, more beautiful than you, luckier than you. Complaining about them makes you hate them for their good fortune and hate yourself for your shortcomings.

Maybe going a day without a complaint is an impossible goal. But I will try for a full month without a noxious complaint.

So far, so good. It’s 4:23 PM. Day One.

But the weather sucks.


  1. What an excellent blog! And so on the mark. I often call the first two categories “venting”, assuring my husband I don’t need to DO anything about them per se, but if I don’t blow off the lid now and then the pressure will build up and back up and affect my heart or other vital organs. He buys it so far.


    • Venting! For sure. When I was a manager, once in a while an employee would come to me with a problem. I would say, “I’m really busy but I can give you an hour tomorrow and we can talk, or I can give you 10 minutes right now and you can just holler and I’ll listen.” The person ALWAYS chose 10 minutes of venting!


  2. Kathy Zurcher

    I love your blog. I love everything you write. You make me a better person. You make me smile. So—just thank you.


    • Oh, thank you so much! You’ve made my day!


  3. Every day I listen to my mum complain about the same old stuff day in and day out but like a good girl I say nothing but just listen. and agree


    • My mom never complains….but I have a close friend or two who never stop complaining. It is exhausting to listen to them. But it is probably more exhausting to be them.


  4. In Alaska the complaint department is 300 miles away.


  5. Now I would love, really love to know how you deal with complaints, for there lays the wonder. Please consider a blog about this and others reading my comment, how do you deal with complaints? Thank you all in advance.


    • Ah! It’s so hard to listen to complaints! I’ve touched on this subject in a blog or two, but I don’t think I’ve devoted a full blog. But now you’ve got me thinking about it! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beloved, please give me the heads up here when you’ve made it.


  6. I get really tired of hearing complaints about the weather (here in southern Ontario, there is ALWAYS something to complain about when it comes to weather), people’s health or weight (when self-inflicted), the environment (if the complainer is not willing to do anything about it), and politics (I don’t want to hear why someone hates some party or politician or another; its unlikely I’ll agree with them). Social media, IMO, is responsible for a whole lot more complaining (which is why I don’t “do” Twitter or Instagram or follow anyone but family and very close friends on Facebook). I wish people would take action on things they can change and just shut up about things they can’t (which is MY complaint of the day. LOL!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that social media has exasperated the complaining. It really is tiring. Sometimes when a loved ones has droned on an on, I say, “That’s too bad. Can you think of something good that will help?”


      • At one time, I threatened to install a ‘complaint jar’ in my house. Anyone who complained about something they weren’t doing anything about had to put in a nickel (or an IOU). Unfortunately, it was harder to monitor than I’d thought possible; the IOUs just kept adding up and the complaints didn’t stop!


  7. Pat Carlucci

    I have a few friends that love to complain and 99% of the time, the complaints are always the same. I call them deja vu complaints. Since I already know the way the conversation (or should I say monologue) is going to go, I look, intently, at them and see their mouths moving but I’m thinking about 10 other things that I need to be doing. Every once in a while, I’ll interject, “yes” and so far I’ve been lucky enough to say it at the appropriate time. Don’t get me wrong, I still love these particular friends but the deja vu complaints… not so much! Oh…it’s 11:10pm and this is my first complaint of the day… not too shabby if I say so myself!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lots of people just want to be heard, so I often just let them vent. A friend and I are both reading the same book right now, and it’s really good, so I tried to get her to talk about it, and she said, “Yes it’s good, especially compared to the last couple I read.” And then she went on and on complaining about the bad books. She had a good book in front of her, but she wanted to talk about the mediocre ones. Oh well.


  8. Vad fin hund du har på din bild 🙂 Och ett bra inlägg


    • Ray G.

      I mean, what else can you say???


    • Tack!


  9. I try not to complain. Often that means I just keep my mouth shut. That works. Now I am working on my thinking…still complaining being done there.


  10. Like your categorisation of complaints – especially those that we should complain about. Yes! But you’re wrong about one thing – there will never be anybody richer, more beautiful or cleverer than me. Just kidding.


  11. I love this. I definitely NEEDED to read this today!


  12. doctormomx4

    Good luck to you. I think a grateful heart is something to aim for and to
    practice. Drinking out of a cup half full is always more fun than a cup half empty!


  13. Look at that face! It’s hard to think about complaining with that adorable face staring at you. I live with a chronic complainer. It wears you down after awhile. I have learned to just walk away and downplay it. However, if a legitimate complaint was to show up I wouldn’t know the difference at this point. It’s quite like the boy who cried wolf.


  14. Bobbi

    I started sometime ago posting a positive post on FB every day or close to every day. It helps to start my day out on that kind of note. It doesn’t mean that I don’t complain any the rest of the day but it does help keep it in check. The other thing that truly helps is we have a handicapped dog. He is ten and on pain meds for the arthritis in his legs but he never complains. I watch him get up from his bed and can tell he is stiff and not comfortable but all I have to do is say “want to go to the park?” and he is excited and ready. There are a few things he can’t do but he still tries….he tries to keep up with the other dogs in the park…he tries to jump up on the sofa even though he often falls short. But again, he never complains. He reminds me that I should do the same because in comparison to him, I have little to really complain about.


    • Thank you so much for sharing that. Your little dog is the best!


  15. That dog absolutely has a complaint going on! I love this post! So funny and TRUE! Hey, if you’re not pissed off you’re just not paying attention!


  16. Complaining is such an easy trap to fall into and once it is there, you gotta retrain your brain to not do so. Such a hard work! Been working on it for a few months now.


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