Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wucken Furries

The Big Scream by Pants (2009)

Charles M. Schulz said,

'Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.'

It is comforting to know that the Apocalypse will get here first. If I'm trusting anyone, it's the man who brought us Lucy van Pelt and 5-cent street-stall psychiatry services.

I think I worry more now that I have more spare time and less to worry about. Most things I stress over never come to pass. This is largely because my idea of a worst-case scenario is modelled on North by Northwest. I've proved myself right over the years about one thing - if disaster strikes, it will be a horrible example of mistaken identity and/or entirely someone else's fault. I'm belt'n'braces to the core. I also have less spare money these days. If there's one thing I know about mistakes, it's that they can cost, and cost big.

It's difficult to find useful statistical information about non-pathological worrying as it tends to get steam-rollered into the grand malaise of 'depression' and its lesser sibling 'anxiety'. I'm sure I'm not depressed and I'm fairly certain that I'm not unduly anxious. But I am inclined to work through in advance what exactly I would do if, say, every taxi in the world suddenly disappeared down a sink hole.

For the record, last time I booked the always reliable Larrikin's End taxi service to make an early morning train connection, I had pre-decided that if the taxi was five more minutes late, I would stop the next passing car and give the driver $20 to transport me. It would not be a request - more of a polite insistence. Please note that there was a plane connection following the train trip and there are only three trains per day from Larrikin's End to Melbourne. The later train would not have gotten me to the airport in time. A tardy taxi in this part of the world can have dramatic consequences.

Despite the lack of reliable data my, (admittedly scanty), research has picked up a general assumption that women worry more than men do. I'm also picking up the vibe that a worrying woman is considered neurotic whereas a man who worries is astutely managing risks. I've never missed a plane. I know men who have missed planes - a few times. I have been known to arrive at an airport the night before a pre-dawn flight. I have never had any trouble falling asleep in a chair, especially if I don't have anything nagging to keep me awake.

As a general rule, I will arrive at the airport two or three hours in advance of departure. I do sometimes worry that I will get bored, so I take a book. I stew that I might not want to read that particular book so I take a spare. I agonise that I won't feel like reading at all so I take my diary and a notebook. Then I worry that my carry-on luggage will be too heavy as it's already got my laptop and camera in it. You never know when you might suddenly want to take a picture of a plane. With this level of planning, time spent at an airport amounts to transcendental meditation.

I'm not a nervous traveller and never have been. Once I'm lodged in whatever conveyance will take me on my adventure, I go into one of those cartoon raptures where the screen goes all wavy and I start looking forward to my complimentary G&T and mixed nuts. I love flying, always have, especially the part where the plane goes really, really fast before it takes off. I've not been frightened roaring across mountains in a Turkish bus at night, or spinning through Delhi in an auto-rickshaw or crossing Havana in a crowded cut'n'shut or riding through Manila in a Jeepney that looked like it had been fitted out by Genghis Khan, or even skidding into Soviet-era Moscow in an Aeroflot crate during a mid-December snowstorm. Once you're in a vehicle going really, really fast, there is only one thing that can go wrong and absolutely nothing you can do about it. Ergo, no call for a Plan B.

I guess I'm not so much a worrier as a compulsive strategiser. If I can fix something before it goes wrong to the point of unfixability, I will. I try not to do this to the inconvenience of others. If I want the taxi to get me to the train twenty minutes before departure, what business is it of anyone else's? The driver should be happy that I'm leaving the 'just in time slot' for someone who doesn't mind missing the train and, consequently, the plane. When I book, I allow for fifteen minutes faffing time. If the taxi hasn't arrived at the exact moment I have booked it for, I call. If it hasn't come in five minutes after my first call, I call again. I have only ever had to call twice. I'd rather have the town think I'm obsessive than to learn via the bush telegraph that I had hurled my carry-on luggage through a window because it would no longer be 'needed on voyage'.

Most of my worrying can be curtailed by simply avoiding outsourcing punctuality. I have a strict rule. If I need something done within a comfortable margin of time, I do it myself. Considerable bloodshed is avoided if this simple rule is followed. On the rare occasions where I have to rely on external timekeeping, I allow plenty of contingency time and absorb the inconvenience. Right now, I'm not all that worried about anything. I have a laptop and a car that are both a bit on the old side but still working fine. In any case, I've enough put away in the likely event that they'll both cark it on the same day. Other than that, no wucken furries, as we say in Australia.

However, should I suddenly be gripped by an out-of-left-field concern, I have a strategy. Of course I do. For those unforeseen and fuliginous doubts that are probably more the result of watching back-to-back episodes of Sleepy Hollow than anything else, there is the virtual Guatemalan Worry Doll. Don't ask, just click.