There are some quirky examples in there and I especially love the kerosene story because I have my own "flammable liquid" incident. Here's the really quick version:
When I was working at a university front desk, we had someone piggyback into the building that shouldn't be there. He was older, dirty, likely drunk or at least mentally unstable, and started harassing my coworker. He opted to finally leave a message for the manager and agreed to leave. After writing down the message, he proceeded to wad up the paper and eat it. He left, though, and they were relieved, only for him to return a few minutes later with a bucket of oil that he flung across the counter, covering my coworker, the desk, the floor, everything. Holy cow! Fortunately he left for good after that.
Anyway, back to Nicholas. Do any of these things make you really nervous, too?
5. The Metal Detectors at Banks
I really don’t like those double door security entrances to banks. You know, the ones where you have to open a door, step through a metal detector, wait for the first door to close behind you, and then step through a second door. I seem to always have my laptop bag when I go to the bank, which always trips the detector, which makes me anxious for a moment. A few people in the lobby turn to look at you when they hear it, which can make you feel like you’re making other people feel nervous too. It must happen all day long, though, because the bank employees don’t give it much attention. I don’t really know what the purpose of these detectors is; they just indicate a person has something metallic with them, making the devices about as useful as if they detected wool or rubber or any other material.
Despite encountering this again and again, that beeping noise still makes me a bit nervous, so I might suppose their point is to deter would-be bank robbers from bringing in weapons. If someone has their mind set on robbing a bank, though; are they likely to be dissuaded by a device that reacts the same way to guns as it does to any number of harmless items? Is it really giving anyone a worthwhile heads-up to the possibility of someone with weapons in the room? Not if it just goes off all day long. I suspect there is more to this but, for me right now; they are just annoying and make me nervous.
4. Really Loud Express Trains on the Subway
When on the platform for the local train, I’m always caught off guard by the express trains. Between trains, the subway tunnel can be as quiet as a tomb and, suddenly, an express train will roar through at high speed. I’ve witnessed this happening hundreds of times and it continues to surprise me.
3. Mentally Unbalanced Homeless People
For the most part, I don’t mind encountering homeless people. Although it might be kind of sad to say, they largely blend in to their surroundings once you’ve become used to them. They hang out in doorways holding cups and asking for spare change, they ride public transportation, and they sleep on park benches. Despite their appearance, they usually won’t cause you any more harm than anyone else out there on the street. That is, of course, unless they are mentally unbalanced.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine encountered this sort of person while waiting for a bus. First the guy started talking about how he’s been having bad luck lately, then he started talking about some sort of conspiracy directed at him, then he started talking about the weather. He continued, changing the subject frequently, not making a whole lot of sense overall. Finally my friend asks him “What do you want? You’ve been going on and on and I get the impression you’re leading up to something, so… what do you want from me?” After a moment, the man’s eyes got wide and his face lit up in a crazed expression as he gave his answer, “KEROSENE!” Meeting someone who, inexplicably, is asking strangers in your neighborhood for a flammable substance is sure to be unsettling.
2. Low Cell Phone Battery
In the same way I suffer from cell phone separation anxiety, I get anxious when the battery gets low and I don’t have an opportunity to charge it. The concern isn’t so much that there will be an emergency and I need to contact someone. I could just borrow a phone from someone or use a nearby landline for that. No, I get anxious because I’m out of touch. If my battery dies and a friend wants to tell me about something cool going on later that day, I’d be losing out. If someone needs to ask me something urgent, they’ll be inconvenienced until later when I can finally answer their text message. I know it’s ridiculous how attached society has become to their cell phones, but it is still uncomfortable when one of your main modes of communication is out of commission.
1. Icy Roads and Sidewalks
For a large part of the year, I don’t have to worry about slipping and falling suddenly on the sidewalk. Crashing my car is hardly a daily concern. This is, of course, unless it’s the winter and the roads and sidewalks have iced over. In that case, I make a point of walking more carefully, not driving as fast, and taking better notice of any ice in front of me. But no matter what, I end up wiping out on some steps or experience my car sliding when making a turn. At this point I get even more careful and end up taking even more time getting places. It’s worth it not to have an accident. Eventually the weather gets warmer, which tricks me into thinking the ice has gone; but then I make the mistake of riding my bike and skid sideways through some melting snow.
Nicolas is the owner of Specialty Answering Service, a nationwide toll free answering service that caters to both large and small businesses across the country. Specialty provides a Spanish answering service for those companies that need both English and Spanish support.