The Delta Airlines security line was impossibly long at JFK Airport earlier this week, when my son and I were headed to LA. Colby had arrived at the airport earlier and sailed through security, but a big line had formed by the time I got to the terminal. Passengers became anxious about missing their flights and irritated with the airport personnel who were acting like generals. Two men and a woman traveling together stood behind me; one of the men was agitated about the whole process and complaining every step of the way. “I can’t stand taking off my shoes,” he mumbled to his companions. “I’ve learned it’s best to just accept it all,” the other man said. “Complaining only makes it worse.”
I smiled to myself at the man’s wisdom. Complaining at times like this does make it worse. It’s easy to work yourself into a frenzy when you have no control over a lousy situation, but since your kvetching will accomplish nothing, why waste the energy?
I cringe when I think about the frustrations many of us face almost every day. Among the leaders:
Trying to get answers to pressing questions, about everything from your phone bill to your checking account, from pre-recorded messages. Automated customer support “menus” make us feel helpless.
Standing endlessly on the subway platform, waiting for the next train, which is apparently delayed. People are continually leaning over the edge of the platform to see if a train is coming. Riders are grimacing, muttering under their breath about missing meetings and criticizing the subway system.
Hitting gridlock when cabbing or driving to an important appointment. The minutes are ticking by and you’re not budging.
Next time you feel frustrated by situations like any of these, think about the advice from the man in the airport. Cool it! Complaining makes matters worse.