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Published:August 14th, 2007 08:48 EST
Those who Get Steamed the Most Get Burned the Worst

Those who Get Steamed the Most Get Burned the Worst

By Terry Sumerlin (Mentor/Columnist)

I enjoy people watching. In fact, I'm more observant of people than of places and things.

Airports, I've found, are great people watching places. Especially is this true of airport coffee spots that face traffic areas.

Restaurants are also great places for observing people, and thus make for an interesting aspect of travel. At home, Sherry convinced me 38 years ago that she can cook and no longer feels the need to convince me. So, whether at home or away, I eat out a lot - and watch people a lot.

For the most part, what I know about home cooking is limited to what the Spurs (and others) sometimes get from officials while playing on the road. What I know about people, on the other hand, is more experience based.

One morning while having coffee and a bite to eat at a fast food place we frequent near our home, people watching produced some interesting human relations.

All was quiet when suddenly a young professional in heels and a business suit stormed in. "Do you have someone working drive-thru?" she blurted out to all at the counter. "I've been sitting out there 10 minutes. I go through this every morning and I'm tired if it."

We didn't really hear what she was told by the manager. Apparently it wasn't what she wanted to hear because after angrily walking past our table and out the door, she came right back in. I wondered if we should duck, and from the expressions of the other customers they wondered the same thing. "I want the phone number of the owner," she demanded.

As she stormed out AGAIN, I commented to Sherry, "I guess she got her day off to a lovely start."

Likely she had ruined her entire day by significantly raising her stress level. The spectacle she had just made of herself would probably replay in her mind throughout the day. And, of course, she would feel a need to relate the scene to all who would listen. All the while, her stinking thinking would increase with each telling of what an awful thing happened first thing that morning.

Since, as she said, she put up with that every day you wonder why she didn't just avoid the problem and go somewhere else. Was she on a mission to whip this establishment into shape? While such a high calling in life might be admirable, it seems very unlikely she would ever get five star service from a one star business. But, of course, she wasn't paying five star prices either.

Perhaps what she really wanted was a feeling of importance from telling someone off. If she got that, it was about all she accomplished. The employees blew off the incident with hardly a second thought.

All of such raises a question: From a human relations point of view, what might the lady have done that would have been wiser? No doubt, she had a legitimate complaint. What might have been a better course of action?

In all confrontations calmness helps, as well as lowering the voice. Talking to the right person privately, rather than creating a public scene, also helps.

Perhaps in situations like this one, though, the best approach of all is to weigh what we stand to gain through the confrontation versus what we stand to lose through stress. We must recognize going in that some situations are no win and are best just tolerated or avoided, because when it comes to self-control:

BARBEROSOPHY: When we lose it, WE lose - every time.

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