I’ve decided that I need to reduce some of the stress in my life. So I’ve begun doing deep breathing exercises.
Oh, yeah, and I’ve decided to stop talking to people.
It’s not that I have the desire to become antisocial and hole up in some cave like a hermit. On the contrary, I love people. Except, of course, when they find the need to share with me every single disaster that has ever happened to them.
Let me explain. Years ago, before I started working in a cushy home office in my pajamas—uh, I mean, began creating in my professional study always sporting professional attire—I worked in a 9-to-5 job.
One summer, a friend of mine and I decided to take an overnight trip down to Norfolk, Virginia. We would drive to Crisfield, Maryland, and take a calm, relaxing boat trip the rest of the way, spend the night, and then take the boat ride back.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? That’s what we thought too.
My co-workers couldn’t wait to talk about my trip-to-come. “You’ll have so much fun!” one said. “It will be so peaceful,” another added. “You’ll have so many stories to tell us,” said a third.
And then it came out of nowhere like a crushing blow—the voice of doom.
“You know, a friend of mine went on a boat trip once, and they were hit by a big storm that nearly killed them. She almost died,” the voice said.
Then, everyone who had been supporting me and my trip suddenly jumped in like sharks engaged in a feeding frenzy during “Shark Week” and proceeded to share every single boating horror story that had ever happened to them, someone they knew, their neighbor’s cousin’s brother’s best friend, and everybody else in the history of the world, just short of including the passengers on the Titanic.
I still went on the boat trip, but nearly jumped out of my skin every time the boat bounced or I heard a strange noise. Each time, I thought, “This is it. We’re going to sink.” I imagined our splintered boat, me floating on a hunk of board, and having to live on a deserted island with nothing but a volleyball.
Oh, wait. That was that Tom Hanks movie.
Anyway…I’ve discovered that this is not an isolated incident. For some unknown reason, people love sharing terrible things that happen to them.
Recently, I wrote about how I hurt my neck. When I was finally out of denial that something was wrong and in excruciating pain, I went to the doctor. Turns out that with a couple of weeks on pain pills and muscle relaxers and another month of physical therapy, I will be just fine.
I thought so. Until I told someone.
“Oh my gosh, that’s just what happened to someone I knew, and you’d better keep an eye on that because you could become paralyzed,” the person said.
Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Stop talking! Just stop talking!
I don’t know if people like sharing horror stories because a.) they’re really just trying to warn you so that you stay aware, b.) they want to prove how heroic they are that they have survived a terrible fate and lived to tell about it, c.) they’re secretly out to spoil your good time or just scare the bejeezus out of you, or d.) they’ve completely lost their minds.
As you can probably guess by now, I lived through the boat ride. It was actually quite a fun trip, once I stopped envisioning a horrible accident and impending death.
And next time I take a trip, whether by car, plane, or train, I’m not telling anyone. I’m too afraid that they’d try to derail my fun plans.
Wait…derail? DERAIL! As in a train derailing?!
Here we go again…
Michele Wojciechowski, when she’s not sticking her fingers in her ears and singing, “La, la, la, la” so that she can’t hear people’s scary stories, “Wojo’s World™” from Baltimore.