This column appeared in The Platte County Landmark on November 6, 2013.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.  Isn’t that the old saying?  Seems like we’ve been ingrained to complain – or at least speak up – when our needs aren’t being met.  Our first method of communication was crying when we were hungry or when our diapers were filled with  poo.  But then we become youngsters and it becomes “be seen and not heard.”  So right off the bat, those two rules seem to cancel each other out.  No wonder we are confused. When is the right time to complain? When it the right time to shut up?  Here, for the great readers of this column, is a quick primer.

If you are a “professional autograph collector” and you accost our city’s most well known athlete at a baggage terminal where he thereby says he’s going to kill you.

NO – That is not a time to complain. Don’t go on the news. Go back to your mother’s basement.

If you live on one of the most valuable and beautiful pieces of property in the Northland, Riss Lake, and the QuikTrip corporation wants to build a gas station in your back yard.

YES – This seems a perfect reason to complain. Live simply runs too fast for you. Complaining might slow it down. You passed an ordinance to allow you to drive golf carts because your cars were too fast, for example. Absolutely. You may complain about them dropping all that roller meat goodness in your neighborhood.

If you are a Kansas City Chiefs fan who is disappointed in the lack of offense the Chiefs have displayed so far.

NO – Shut up. The team is undefeated. NINE AND OH. Hasn’t happened since 2003.  Zip it. And don’t start throwing out “I told ya so’s” when they do lose. Probably this week to Denver. Enjoy it while it lasts.

If you’re a handsome newspaper columnist who is unable to pay your newspaper bill to some corporate-owned publication that made you wait on hold for an hour and blamed it on a Typhoon half a world away.

YES – Companies run on one thing — Money — and lots of it.  Complaining that you can’t pay your bill only brings light to their ineptitude so they can fix it or fold. Or both.

If you are a frequent traveler to the KCI Airport and you enjoy the swift and speedy entry and exit from the airport, but are torn by calls for a reorganization to a single terminal. Should you complain?

NO – Leave the damn thing as it is. As we’ve seen recently at LAX, a single security point only makes a human bottleneck for some idiot with an assault rifle. There’s nothing wrong with the airport the way it is. Pipe down.

If you’re a professional football player and you see one of your teammates being bullied by another teammate. Do you complain?

YES – Bullying is bullying. And it’s not okay. Especially if that kid plays the tuba and has a bit of a weight problem but uses writing and humor to deflect the sadness inside… so much darkness… so much sadne….. oh wait… um… YES. Tell a grown up.

If you’re at the Landmark Christmas Party and see the Editor in Chief mingling with the other guests. You’ve really been chapped at him for something you wrote. Do you complain?

YES – Absolutely. Go right up to him and engage him in your complaint. Just leave the columnists’ table alone.

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