Even without the extra stressors of the COVID plague, everyone has so much happening in our lives that we can sometimes lose perspective. We zero in on our list of things we have to do or monitor and forget there’s a much bigger world out there. If there is even the slightest mishap or change in circumstances, we can go over the edge.

We’ve all seen footage of people losing their minds and getting violent on airplanes. People are also brawling in fine-dining restaurants. I saw a loss of perspective at a recent plasma donation.

Let me set the stage a little bit. The local center has reduced its hours due to staff shortages. They have also suspended the VIP program. If you donate 100 times in 1 year, you become a VIP, which means when you enter, you get a VIP slip and go to the front of the line for initial screening. From there, the line alternates – a donor from the regular line gets the next screening booth, then a VIP goes, etc. After the screening, the VIP also gets to skip a line to get a bed on the donor floor if there is one. The same alternating procedure applies to this line as well. Another exception to this second line is if you have to exit the screening to see the nurse for any reason, such as answering “yes” to the question of if you have had a new medical procedure such as getting a COVID vaccine. When you’re done with the nurse, you go to the front of the line for a bed, the same as a VIP would do once the screening was completed.

With the VIP program suspended, everyone waits in every line. At a donation last week, I had advanced to the front of the second line. There were no available beds in the limited space that was available (also due to staffing shortages). As I waited, a donor was brought to the front of the line by the nurse. No big deal, I thought, I’m just #2 in line now. When a space opened up, the floor worker called me by name (she knows me quite well). This surprised both the other donor and me. I went in to get seated. The other donor came right behind me to protest. Technically, he was in the right, and I would have given up my seat if it upset him that much. After a few debate exchanges, the CSL worker said, “I run the floor how I run the floor. You will be next.” He didn’t have to wait more than 2 minutes for another bed to come open, so it wasn’t a major setback. I strongly suspect that he would have been called first if I wasn’t someone the worker knew very well.

Would I have protested if the roles were reversed? I don’t think I would have until a second person was taken ahead of me. Then I might have asked a question. I feel like I have a proper perspective on situations like this. I had to make a major career change so I could become a caregiver for a disabled family member. Things that many people take major offense to, such as long lines, just aren’t that big a deal. Watching videos of people having meltdowns, such as the example above, are even more entertaining than they were before the plague and my big life change. I have some tips for people that are tempted to react in similar ways.

Make wait time productive. Right now, you will find yourself waiting longer in almost every activity you could possibly engage in – grocery stores, other shopping, medical offices, and anything else you can think of. Just about every business in the world is having issues getting their supplies and having enough staff to handle even ordinary loads. You’re just going to have to wait longer. Make the wait productive by listening to an episode on your podcast list (please wear your headphones!), reading a book, checking your email, watching “restaurant brawl” YouTube videos, etc. Sitting there stewing about how much you hate waiting or grumbling about waiting with someone else in line does no good. The line does not move faster, and your stress level (and blood pressure) is on the increase. Do something productive or entertaining to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind.

Consider others above yourself. Those on the other side of the transaction are human beings too. Having to deal with what seems like twice as many patrons is stressful for them. At the plasma center, I mentioned to the worker that took me ahead of the donor coming from the nurse that losing the VIP line was a surprise. I wasn’t angry, just surprised. She explained the multiple lines were too much for the skeleton crew to process properly. I understand that. Everyone is short-handed with everything. Keep that in mind when you feel the frustration kicking in.

Be nice. One of my favorite lines in the classic rotten movie “Road House” is when Patrick Swayze is explaining to his crew of bouncers how to deal with irate patrons. “Be nice… if someone gets in your face and calls your mama a c***sucker, I want you to be nice.” Of course, that’s extreme, both in situation and language, but the point is a good one. Being nice goes a long way. Assume the best in people. If you’re next in line and the person behind you gets called, don’t assume that the businessperson hates you and is trying to ruin your day. Perhaps the person that cut you off in traffic actually didn’t see you until it was too late to correct, rather than assuming (s)he just thinks, “I’m a higher life form than you, get out of my way!”

This works both ways. If you are a business owner, take the same approach with your customers. Like I said earlier, everyone is dealing with extra stressors these days, and everyone can lose their perspective. Whether you’re the business or the customer, these simple steps can keep everyone calm and can lead to productive solutions.

And definitely watch those crazy YouTube videos. Unless it was you in the video having a meltdown.