Four Undeservingly Stressful Situations

Everyone’s got their own laundry list of stresses and anxieties that follow them everyday like a shadow. There are stressful situations, and then there are these situations: occurrences that appear to be so insignificant on the surface level, but if you don’t give them the proper respect they may or may not deserve, they will crush you. The straw can literally break the camel’s back.

Below are my top four undeservingly stressful situations, and I say undeserving because I got enough on my plate already that I don’t have the time nor energy to keep my cool during these brief, yet hellish, episodes of extreme stress.

You want to see me lose my shit? Come find me on an already shitty day and if any one of these awful instances happen to me, I’ll show you what it really means to ‘make a scene’.

Zoom breakout rooms:

This is a very new and fresh type of stress, such a force that even the most collected and tranquil of individuals can’t prepare for. This isn’t physical stress, this is social stress, where social muscles you didn’t even know you possess begin to ache when you join these rooms. I don’t know what the simpleton at Zoom had in mind when he or she created this diabolical function, because it’s nothing like FaceTime and it’s not even close to resembling an in-person conversation. 

“Works so smoothly, you’ll forget you’re working from home!” 

Yeah, and my family doctor just prescribed me meth for my knee pain. 

Jesus, there’s nothing natural or relaxing about a Zoom breakout room; it’s just one big cringe. After you discuss the assignment, which takes you about 10 seconds to do, you just sit there and stare at each other, waiting for the other person to talk about the changes in the weather. And then you get this notification that the zoom room is ending, but you’re given a gut-wrenching choice.

Option 1: return to the main room now.


Option 2: wait until you’re automatically transferred over.

Do you just Irish Goodbye the bastard and leave the poor guy as soon as you can, or do you stick around and generate some small talk about the posters in his background. Are you even supposed to say bye? Who the fuck knows. There are no rules. These breakout rooms literally curb-stomp any social guidelines and codes people grow up with, turning everyone into a bunch of simple salmon who just follow the river current, swimming with their mouths open.

Running out of toilet paper:

Don’t listen to the picture. Panic.

No one of any gender, race, or ethnic background is safe from this nightmare. The worst part is you never hear any heartwarming and inspiring stories about someone coming across an empty roll of toilet paper.

It’s never, “Thank god I had a clean job because there was no toilet paper left.”

That has never happened in human history. The universe simply would not allow that.

In fact, it’s always after one of your worst mudslide-catastrophes when you begin the wiping process that you notice the toilet paper roll is empty. It’s almost like a mockery. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to know that you are SO FUCKED. The fact of the matter is that this situation is much more existential than it seems, as it questions the very nature of humanity’s decency: How much TP did the last guy leave you with?

Unfortunately, you don’t always have time to check your surroundings before you drop the kids off at the pool, as these missions can often make you pressed for time. We just assume that humanity is still good and that whoever closed up shop last left you with a relatively decent amount; or if the roll was near empty or dusted off completely, then a replacement roll would be loaded into its spot or at the very least placed on top of the back of the toilet. More times than not, however, humanity is selfish and no such replacement rolls or any real aid is given to you in your time of need, thus you are left with yet another existential question: Do you wipe with the hand towel or do you go trash diving for a tissue?

Airport security:

Obviously airport security is a stressful operation, and that is by design. I have no complaints regarding their methods. I can, however, comment on one very small moment in this process of which I think is inherently flawed and hilariously stress-provoking. It’s the 15 or so seconds you are given to gather your all of your personal items scattered across four or five different bins with some TSA agent barking in your ear… all while doing this barefoot! When your items come out of the X-Ray conveyor belt of death, you must prioritize what you grab first. There’s only so much you can carry. Do you slip on your shoes first so that you can better prevent yourself from contracting a foot virus, or do you roll the dice and try to collect all of your important shit while your feet are raw dogging it. It’s an absolute clusterfuck and an unhealthy dose of stress before boarding your flight. At this point, you might as well double down and volunteer to sit next to the lady with her crying baby.

A small rock getting in your shoe:

This one is just God toying with your emotions, because, honest-to-God, this only seems to happen when you are in a hurry or in an already tense situation. You’ll be on the move: trying to quickly memorize a presentation, running late somewhere, or walking down the isle of your fucking wedding when all of a sudden, a little itty bitty rock, no bigger than you pinky fingernail, finds a way inside your shoe. Just like an untimely “CHECK ENGINE” light from your car, this rock will jump into your life and wreck absolute havoc. Tiny it may be, but this little fucker will slice and shred at your heel, sole, and ankles with extreme prejudice of being so excruciatingly painful that it will leave you with no choice but to awkwardly stop what you’re doing, navigate the little prick, and remove it; or you’ll just have to sweat it out and find a way to coexist with the rock, which may end up CAVING into your ankle forever.

Written by Henry Marken

I lost my pinky finger at age 4, but then found it again at a soup kitchen when I was 15. Survivor of a wild turkey attack (2008). I went to the University of Phoenix before it was cool to do college online. Currently in a lawsuit with Crayola after a devastating purple crayon incident.

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