By David Worboys • 17 August 2023 • 10:00
I have a Serious Problem - copyright : David Worboys
PATIENCE and tolerance of frustrating situations have never been virtues I have developed. There are certain circumstances in which I feel agitated or even angry.
Standing in a queue in a windy tunnel waiting to board an aircraft is no longer an issue because I don´t fly any more. But I do still have to make phone calls. Recently I phoned HMRC in England concerning a tax refund. It took over five minutes to go through all the security procedures, a further forty minutes before I reached an operative. After answering many of the security questions again, I explained the purpose of my call. Another five minutes conversation before I was put on hold for another six minutes. Eventually we were getting close to a solution. Then the line was cut. I cursed. It has happened before.
I feel frustrated when stuck in a traffic jam, even if I am not in a hurry. Am I not grateful to have a car in the first place?
I follow sport on television quite closely – especially tennis, football and Test cricket. Occasionally the connection is cut off – often at a critical point. I may have spent over two hours watching a thrilling two-and-a-half hour movie when, ten minutes before the end, the screen goes blank. The same can happen during the final set of a tennis match or in the eighty-fifth minute of a crucial football encounter.
And I immediately feel cheated. It´s the same when power, water or the internet is cut off. I sometimes feel that at such moments the world is against me and that this is a serious problem. Then I try to put it into proportion.
After all, I am fortunate to be able to watch television at all, and there are very rarely any technical problems. Billions of people can´t even dream of having a television. And if my water is occasionally cut off for a couple of hours? The same people may have difficulties finding any water fit to drink. And they don´t need electricity because they don´t have refrigerators, fans, cookers or heaters. They can´t even switch on a light. They have no phones or computers and therefore no problems with the internet. And they don´t have the hassle of airports because the idea of travelling far beyond their immediate home is as inconceivable as having a car to drive.
On top of deprivation of the conveniences and comforts above, these billions of our fellow beings may be confronted with hunger, disease, persecution or war. They could have been enslaved or wrongfully imprisoned. Yet many of them accept their situation without even considering it a problem.
For me their life experience is a genuine problem. My own serious problem is that I allow myself to be irritated (and sometimes angered) by situations that, in the grander scheme, are fleeting trivial inconveniences.
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