I’m the kind of person who doesn’t get stressed out by crises. It’s the little things that make me hyperventilate. For some reason, I become very calm during calamities: car accidents, ER visits, column deadlines. But the first sight of a construction cone will set me off.
For example, I visit Cook County Courthouses on a regular basis. I don’t mind restrictions on cell phones and emptying my pockets of metal. But I start seething every time I have to take off my belt. Unless you’re a teenage boy, having your pants falling down in public is humiliating.
Detective work is stressful enough. When I worked with my dad, he’d catch me sighing over assignments. The job requires spending all of your time outside your comfort zone. So, the last thing I need is a soul-crushing line at the post office when I’m requesting someone’s forwarding address.
Public servants! As my kids will testify, I can be an embarrassment when things aren’t going my way with a government clerk. I guess they don’t appreciate it when my face turns fire hydrant red because someone’s computer is down.
Don’t get me started on computers. They’re like a co-worker you argue with all day long. What do you mean, “File not found?” “Well, why can’t I print my student’s paper?” “What, you’re freezing up on me?”
Even if the computer is functioning, user names and passwords drive me bonkers. I finally solved the problem by adopting the same user name and password for all my sites. I know this makes me vulnerable to identity thieves. Hey, if you want my identity, help yourself.
Another stress-filled moment for me is when the restaurant check arrives at the table. It’s not that I’m cheap. I just can’t stand the endless calculations to determine that everyone owes $13.11. As soon as I see that thing, I excuse myself to wash my hands. I’m always hoping the CPA course will be over by the time I get back.
I think having a positive attitude is also part of my problem. I naively start each day with the expectation all is going to go well. Every setback is unexpected. I was recently picking up some take-out food, when the restaurant’s credit card machine failed. If you add hunger to an unforeseen delay, we’re talking ulcers.
Actually, I was reading that stress is no joke. It causes 60 percent of our illnesses. It can lead to upset stomachs, anxiety and angry outbursts – Oh that was the time the waiter dropped my plate. We’re supposed to lower our stress level by focusing on the positive, taking deep breaths, long walks, etc.
Yeah, but what I’m supposed to do when I stumble on a sign that says “Sidewalk Closed?”
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.