Monday, November 2, 2009

Cool as a cucumber

Are you familiar with the expression? I've always been fascinated by how many of us, who come unglued over little things, can remain perfectly calm in a crisis. This weekend brought that home for me yet again.

On Friday I had to deal with a credit card company which apparently has some serious lapses not only in logic, but in follow-up. Suffice it to say that despite written notification of my change of address to Florida and a phone call -- which did successfully get the Florida phone number into the system -- they claim to never have gotten the message about the address. Their oversight has created several extremely annoying moments, but nothing cataclysmic. Still, I was not calm. Some -- the telephone representative comes to mind -- might even say I was one degree this side of ballistic.

However on Saturday when my computer crashed just as I completed chapter thirteen (Hmmmm?) of the new Chesapeake Shores Christmas book, I was calm, cool and collected. I quickly looked up the number for my computer repair shop, asked if they could still find a battery for my dinosaur of a laptop, virtually hugged the repairman who tracked it down, happily accepted the cost of the battery, merrily embraced the cost of shipping. I was, in fact, so darn cheerful, he said he'd never had a more agreeable customer. Too bad he and the credit card rep can't compare notes. At any rate, staring writing disaster in the face, I didn't even flinch.

How many of us are this way? When the big things come along -- a health scare, a child's broken arm, a car accident -- we just dig in and deal with it. However, let those water torture drips of day in and day out annoyances come along and we lose it. Maybe it's just the frustration of dealing with so many of life's little glitches. Maybe it's accumlated anger from all the times we've kept silent over the big things. Who knows?

It happens in relationships, too. We keep quiet over a dozen big incidents involving family or friends, sometimes with the single goal of keeping the peace. And then one minor slip -- your husband forgets to pick up milk, the kids leave the towels in a soggy mess on the bathroom floor, a friend makes an off-hand comment about the color of your dress -- and World War III breaks out.

I suppose it would be a lot healthier for all of us if we didn't let the frustrations accumulate, if we said something when we're annoyed, but as a character on a TV sit com said in a recent episode, too often we tell ourselves it's not worth the fight. That's all well and good if we truly let go of the anger. If we don't, though, if we let the resentment simmer, watch out. Stress and high blood pressure can be right around the corner.

When was the last time you blew a gasket over something that didn't really matter, while breezing through a crisis? Do you have a trick or two for staying cool and calm under all circumstances? I'd love if you would share them.

Meantime, keep your fingers crossed that my new battery shows up on schedule and that I'm back in the writing business by mid-week. Otherwise that wonderfully accommodating repairman could move to the top of my list for the next big tantrum.

Sherryl Woods


Blogger Kathleen O said...

I am good in crisis, especially if it has to do with family or friends, but then when it's all over I tend to fall apart in privacy.. But I cannot stand incompetance or people who are representing their company.. For someone who is been in this kind of career for most of my career, I find that CSR don't put themselves out in this elctronic age... They wouldn't last if they had to go through stack and stack of invoices or files to find out what they were looking for.. Good customer service as gone out the window and nothing sends me into a spin more than this..
But i think of the saying "Don't sweat the small stuff"....

November 2, 2009 8:37 AM  
Blogger Sherryl said...

I try so hard not to sweat the small stuff, Kathleen. I can't tell you how many times I remind myself of that in traffic. What I actually say is, "The world is not going to come to an end because..."
It does keep things in perspective. However, most people driving anywhere close to me probably think I'm nuts because I'm muttering to myself.

November 3, 2009 5:17 AM  

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