Years ago, I grew the strangest bald spot on my
head. It was on the back of my head and
off to the side, so it didn’t fit the pattern for male baldness. In the span of two weeks, it grew from the
size of a dime to the size of a Silver Dollar, so I grew a bit concerned! I went to the Doctor who examined the spot
and who then had a long chat with me about “stress in my life.” I told him, “Well, I’ve been traveling a lot
for work recently, my company is going through some layoffs, and I’m getting married soon, but no; there’s no real ‘stress’
in my life…”
Seriously, I had always thought that people who were
“stressed” had more severe symptoms than a little balding. I thought they lied awake at night, sweating,
worrying, and feeling very anxious and tired and angry. Stress can sneak up on you though, with more
silent symptoms like high blood pressure, fitful sleep, forgetfulness, and yes…
alopecia (atypical balding).
Watching my own symptoms of stress a little more closely,
it didn’t take long to learn that one of the things that “pushed” me the
hardest was the hour or so that it takes to board a plane. I know, its “easy,” right? All you have to do is board when they tell
you, sit down, buckle your seat belt, and wait for takeoff. But, the more I learned about air travel, the
more stressful the boarding process became.
I worried about last minute emails, phone calls, and getting as much
last minutes stuff done before they shut the airplane doors. I worried about other people not following
the rules, I got quietly upset about people bringing too many carry-ons on
board, sitting in the wrong seats, getting lost, bothering the flight
attendants, babbling on their phones, etc.
I had to fix it.
You can avoid this stress entirely. I have no idea why it took me so long to
realize that, but its fairly simple to let most of this go. It all boils down to a strategy I have called
“Board with a book.” I use my electronic
calendar to set email and phone “deadlines” based on my flight time, and I
discipline myself to shut the phone OFF a half hour prior to boarding
time. I stow all gadgetry and gear in my
carry-on with the single exception of a book I’m reading. I’ll go off to a corner of the waiting area
somewhere to read until they call to board.
When it’s my turn, I’ll simply scan my boarding pass, walk on, stow my
bag, sit, buckle up, and continue reading. I don’t dig through my stuff for an iPod or
other gadgetry until we’re well on our way.
Walk on, sit down, and read. That’s
it. Don’t pay attention to anything else
unless your flight attendant asks you for something.
If there’s anything so important that it cannot wait a
few hours, and it demands your immediate attention on a cell phone, you
probably should take the next flight anyway.
I remember seeing a passenger once who absolutely refused to put away
her cell phone. The doors were closed
and the entire plane sat and waited for this woman to finish her phone
call. She snapped at the flight
attendant, “This call is crucial to the survival of my company!” Lady, if it’s that important, maybe you
should go back to the concourse and find a quiet booth or chair somewhere, and take