When you do something scary or stressful — bungee jumping, public speaking, etc. — do you prefer to be surrounded by friends or by strangers? Why?
My first movement in the morning, getting out of bed is scary and stressful: first of all because I do not know if my body will make it. I have to think about it. I take a deep breath, sit on the side of the bed and when I realise that everything is functioning more or less as usual, I stand up. My first success of the day and for that action I prefer not to be surrounded by friends or by strangers, just I, me and myself. I then walk to the kitchen for my breakfast and if that task is accomplished, then I know that all is well. If I meet Mr. Swiss in the kitchen, I know he has also made it.
The day continues and if everything runs its normal pattern, then I need no protection, I can do it all on my own. Generally it is the others that may need protection. I will be driving the car and I hope that all pedestrians see me coming and move on one side and that the other cars on the road keep at a safe distance, what could possibly go wrong.
This morning in the supermarket, the assistant serving me in the flower department was running a very high risk of being shouted at in a loud voice (me) and almost losing her job, but it was just a chain of unhappy events. I told Mr. Swiss to wait in the car as I had a few things to shop for the garden. He was not unhappy, he could make his way on his own to the car (loaded with shopping) without having to ensure that no accidents happened to me on the way.
I decided to buy some seeds for my herb garden, dill for the cucumbers and savoury for the beans, no big problem, and I have never read a report in the newspaper that this was a death defying experience. After I found my seeds I made another discovery. I have a small collection of orchids at home, but unfortunately there is only one flowering. The others have green leaves and are not yet ready to do me the favour entering for the Pulitzer prize for the best and most beautiful orchids. I know Pulitzer does not do flowers, but you never know, it would be a good idea.
I saw that the flower department had a special sort of orchid at a good price – see photo – which would be something completely different in my collection. I arrived at the desk and the young lady who was serving, was on the telephone. I know from my working experience, that this can happen and you cannot drop the telephone just to accommodate someone with two packets of seeds and an orchid (it was now two orchids as I found another bargain in full flower). She was still on the telephone, discussing some sort of garden shed and flipping through a catalogue, when two other customers arrived. Also golden oldies, so we were now three in the queue. I managed to catch the assistant’s eye, but she ignored me and continued with her conversation. She was now at the part where she was reciting a web site address. I decided this was positive, the customer on the phone could now talk to his computer and the conversation would be finalised. This was not the case and there was just silence from the assistant, still holding the telephone, whilst her customer was discovering the wonders of googling probably.
I then gave her another poisonous glare and it must have registered as she began to multi task. With the telephone in her hand she signalled that I should move the goods I want to buy next to the bar code special supermarket card reading machine and she began to type my articles. The people waiting behind me in the queue all seemed to breathe a sigh of relief in chorus and I began to pack my goods in the various plastic bags. The young lady was still on the telephone, but not my problem. She was now busy with the other waiting customers.
Then my iPhone began to ring I was confronted with a picture of Mr. Swiss on the phone. Another death defying action was required, so I pressed the button to take the call, but it was the wrong button and I lost him. I decided to put a brave face on the problem, and walked towards the parking place where I was confronted by a worried Mr. Swiss. I eventually arrived at the car and noticed a man dressed in an official type of dress, checking all the parking place numbers and writing little tickets, which he was distributing amongst the various cars. I was sitting in the car when he approached place No. 516 (that was our parking place). He had a mobile telephone and was reading the numbers out to an office somewhere in the vaults of the car park. We paid for an hour parking, but thanks to the young lady in the garden department, the hour was probably now ninety minutes. He cast me a glance, but walked on: another scary and stressful moment.
Eventually Mr. Swiss and I escaped with two orchids, two packets of seeds, a few bags filled with food and a lively conversation in the car revolving around the shop assistant and the near miss on the parking lot. The conclusion is that you do not need bungy jumps, or public speaking, daily life is full of risks without having an audience to clap.