The other day I dropped off a prescription at the pharmacy in Big Tesco. I was told it’d be about ten minutes until it was ready, so I went for a mooch in the home section, marvelled at how actual human beings ever managed to fit into the teeny tiny clothes in the newborn section, and called my mum for a quick catch up.
I returned to the pharmacy 15-20 minutes after I’d originally dropped off my prescription, and was told by the lady working there that my medicine was ready, but it needed to be signed off by the pharmacist. He was currently dealing with something upstairs, but he shouldn’t be too long. So I smiled and said ‘Okay, great, thanks.’
The lady working there (let’s call her Pam) then turned to another customer who was standing next to me – we’ll call her Trudy. Pam asked if Trudy was also waiting to pick up a prescription. This was the conversation that ensued:
Trudy: ‘Yes, I am. And I’m not very happy that I’ll have to wait.’
Pam: ‘I’m sorry. The pharmacist shouldn’t be much longer. Do you have any other shopping you could do while you wait?’
Trudy: ‘No. You told me it’d take ten minutes, so I went and did my shopping then. Now you’re telling I have to wait even longer. It’s not acceptable.’
I watched Trudy stomp off to the the pharmacy waiting area, then slump down in a chair, all the while looking like a toddler on the verge of a tantrum because someone had said dinner wasn’t quite ready yet. She then looked at me with an expression of disbelief, apparently wanting me to join her in her disgust at the ineptitude of the pharmacy staff.
I didn’t though. I smiled, then waltzed off to the frozen section for a few minutes because we’re in a heatwave currently and I was feeling about 73 degrees (celcius).
Here’s my thinking:
Short of storming off upstairs and finding the pharmacist yourself, or whipping your own pharmacy certification out from your pocket, there’s nothing you can do about it. So you may as well accept it.
It’s not Pam’s fault that the pharmacist was upstairs, so it hardly seems fair to snap at her.
Maybe the pharmacist was feeling unwell and was upstairs with his head in the toilet. Or perhaps he was on the phone dealing with a personal crisis. I don’t know what he was doing, but I’m confident his intention wasn’t to mess up Trudy’s schedule just for giggles.
It genuinely didn’t bother me, so I was wasn’t about to pretend to get all up in someone else’s drama. It’s not my style, and it’s not a good use of my time or energy.
Now, it’s possible that Trudy is usually a very chilled out and relaxed lady who practises yoga, enjoys reggae music, kicks back with a couple of beers on the weekend and likes to ride the Cornish waves in the summer. Perhaps I happened to see her on a bad day. We all have them.
But, I do see this kind of thing happening all the time.
What strikes me, is that if you’re getting worked up because someone cut you up on a roundabout, or because someone sent you a curt email, or because you had to wait forty minutes for food at a restaurant – you’re the one who’s suffering. Not the roundabout bandit, not the colleague who doesn’t bother with small talk, and not the restaurant staff. You. Ranting and raving about it isn’t going to change their behaviour, it’s just going to spoil your day.
Trudy and I had the same experience at the pharmacy. But which one of us do you think left with a spring in her step and a smile on her face (and a couple of degrees cooler)? I can tell you right now, it wasn’t Trudy. And it’s simply because we chose to react differently. You can choose how you want to react to something. I chose not to let it bother me. You can either fly into a violent rage like Ross did when someone threw his sandwich away, or you can think ‘ah well, them’s the breaks,’ and move on with your life.
I’m not saying it’s easy to let things bounce off you, and I’m by no means the Queen of Bounce myself (although wouldn’t that be a cool job?). But next time you feel yourself getting worked up about something, ask yourself if it really matters. Consider if the stress is actually worth it. As a general rule of thumb, I ask myself ‘is this something I’d still need to be worrying about in 48 hours?’ If the answer is no (which it pretty much always is), then that’s the end of it.