Service of Stress II

January 27th, 2014

Categories: Economy, Stress, Work


office elevator with people

In just one elevator ride from the 11th to the ground floor in my office building last Thursday I witnessed two examples of extreme stress. I fear these scenes are replicated around the country.

When I entered the elevator a young woman was on her phone saying, “I thought you were children waiting for pickuppicking up the children. I’m too far away to get them. I told you. What? What? Oh no,” and she snapped off the connection. I first noticed her because she was immaculately dressed and coiffed.

After I left the building I again heard her as she spoke, this time fighting tears. She was behind me. “We’d discussed this,” she said. “I, at least, am trying to look for a job. You are busy doing other things. Why did you call me back?”

I’ll never know the outcome—whether someone picked up the children on time; whether she’ll get the job she hoped for; whether the person she was speaking with would act more responsibly in future so as to lighten her load and reduce her sress.

The other instance began a few floors down from 11 when a man entered wearing nothing but a sweater. It was 20 degrees up from 9 in the morning but still not sweater weather. I said, “Guess you’re running out for a snack,” and he replied, “No, for a smoke.” 

being yelled at workI told him I’m nobody to warn him about smoking, as I’m an ex-smoker, but….He said in a low voice, “I gave up smoking for 10 years. I just started again.” My response, “I could start again—by the second one I’d be hooked. But it’s so expensive.” He said, “It’s the office—those lawyers. They yell at me all day, ‘Do this; Get that—now!’” I said “You can’t let them kill you.”

We were on the ground floor.

The economy is doing well for some–I know plenty of people who are thriving–but obviously the news still isn’t as bright for others. These two people looked earnest and serious. I wish I could help them. Have you noticed such palpable, dignified stress around you?



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6 Responses to “Service of Stress II”

  1. ASK Said:

    Whether it’s small children, aging parents or spouses, care-giving is one of the greatest stressors on the planet, providing several incidents when I’m sure I’ve come close to having a panic attack, and many, many more when I’ve lost my usual amiable temper. Palpable, yes; dignified, not really.

  2. Donna Boyle Schwartz Said:

    Donna Boyle Schwartz on Facebook: A lot of ex-smokers that I know unfortunately are smoking again…and as for stress, well, I think we ALL have a much higher level today than in years past.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What expense to pocketbook and health and while perhaps a temptation, not a solution. In fact the man in my example might take the time to go up and down in the elevator to smoke outdoors to look for a new job. I should talk. When I stopped I said I’d save the money and I never did. At prices today I’d have salted away a bundle.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    At your most vulnerable you will always be dignified though when you are responsible for someone and the help you depend on falls through it’s panic time, especially when work deadlines and other commitments and obligations loom or if you are out of town or far enough away to feel helpless.

    When I hear that schools will start two hours later than usual due to weather I wonder what parents do. No doubt if school is cancelled some can work from home but a two hour delay?

  5. CKP Said:

    If you had told an educated Frenchman in 1783 that within ten years his king would be beheaded by the guillotine and his country would become a so called “republic” dominated by a reign of terror, he would have thought you utterly mad!

    Similarly, although at a much faster pace thanks to so-called advances in electronic technology, America is changing into something very different from what most of us expected it would become as recently as a decade ago. The reasons for this are complex but are derived primarily from substantial demographic shifts in the fabric of the country’s population.

    (Note: Whilst both the ways and the language in which we communicate may change rapidly, what we think and believe can take centuries to modify. However, mass migrations do cause new values to substitute for traditional ones, thereby rapidly changing its culture. See Professor David Hackett Fischer’s remarkable landmark study, “Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America”, for an in depth discussion of this point.)

    The much maligned President George H. W. Bush, when he asked for “a kinder and gentler nation”, understood this at the same time that he seemingly couldn’t help himself be the unwitting instrument of those seeking to destroy the very caring characteristics of what we used to think was our heritage.

    No wonder your elevator ride companions were suffering from “extreme stress”! Contrary to what they thought when they were in school, educated or uneducated, as the case may be, what do they have to look forward to? Unfortunately, the answer is, the utterly insecure status of becoming the menial vassals of the uncaring one percent of our population which now holds absolute power in this country.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    There have always been employers who took horrible advantage of employees–the result being unions. I have always wondered about employers and clients who feel because they pay you they have the right to abuse you. I’ve experienced this. No fun.

    A kinder, gentler nation–wouldn’t that be a switch. I’m in PR: I wonder who would pay to promote such an initiative? I would give them a very good rate to help get out the word–I am so ready to support it.

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