Intersections – All Kinds of Panic
By Nicki Salcedo
The more people panic, the less I panic. This week, I’ve been watching my friends become experts on infectious diseases. Out of a 100 friends, 90 know for certain how to cure certain diseases and prevent future outbreaks. Strangely enough, the other 10 are my friends who actually work at the CDC.
I am constantly anxiety-ridden and worried about some silly thing. I’m afraid of mascara and high heels over two inches. I’m scared that a bird will fly into my house when I open the front door. You can’t tell me this is irrational because it has happened to me before. I understand panic.
When I see other people getting hysterical about strange things, I would never tell them to “just calm down.” Panicking is normal. Irrational, but normal. Sometimes the best way to combat hysteria is with more hysteria. These are the main types of panic I see each day.
1. Road rage. You panic because someone wants to merge in front of your car. You should definitely honk your horn and give them the middle finger. You obviously own the road directly in front of your car. You should panic and rage about cars changing lanes and driving too slow or too fast. When you get to the next red light and the offending car is parked right next to you and contains your boss, your wild and profane gestures will seem justified.
2. Babies on an airplane. I’m on airplanes a lot, and you should see the panicked expressions of my fellow passengers when a family boards with a baby. Babies should stay at home. If they leave home, babies should never cry. Your panicked energy and anger directed at that small, and yet rapidly growing, humanoid is not weird at all.
3. Being healthy. No matter how nice your friends are, as soon as you start dieting or exercising, one of your friends is going to start panicking. These are the friends who know all about the dangers of over exercising and make sure to always offer you a piece of cake. Especially at work where all cakes hide. Change is frightening to some people. It is best to distract them with other irrational fears like germs.
4. Germs. Diseases. Bacteria. Viruses. I am not an expert, but I do have 90 expert friends. The only thing I have gleaned from these experts is that we are all going to die. And they are correct.
5. Being right. Some people have to be right. All. The. Time. I’m sure those right people will be the first to comment on this article with why I am wrong. I am constantly wrong in very public and tangible ways, but most people are right all the time. You are right about giving the middle finger to that car while driving. You are right about knowing the best ways to correct society’s ills and controversies. The good news is that everyone is always right. Except me. I’m always wrong. I’m wrong, and I’m not panicking about it.
6. Natural Disasters. Let’s start planning for snowmageddon now. You know it is coming. We should really worry about it now, while it is still 70 degrees outside. I’ve got recipes for French toast and bread pudding for days. That’s how long we’ll be trapped. And panicking. In February. Two whole days.
7. Alien invasions including zombies. I’m more worried that this won’t happen.
8. Definitions of success. Are we successful because we work and make money? Are we successful because we have prioritized personal satisfaction over material wealth? Once I make enough money I will definitely prioritize personal satisfaction over material wealth.
9. Spending money on the right/wrong things. I recently had someone complain to me about the cost of her mammogram. This is the month to celebrate and take care of our ta-tas, and she thought $200 for a mammogram was ridiculous. Her panic was palpable. In the meantime, she is holding an $800 phone. That’s when I really started panicking. Do you know how many mammograms you could get for the cost of that phone? Yes, you do. See the simple math above.
10. Fake news. The wonderful thing about today is that we are panicking about news that is not true. Steven Spielberg shoots dinosaur. Pickup truck saves airplane from crash landing. The zombie apocalypse is coming. We should be aware of the types of fake news that cause us to panic. Manipulated photos. Satire that passes as real news. First you believe it, and then you get mad. Don’t be mad. Don’t panic. Being humorless is serious business.
I don’t panic about Ebola or Ecoli or someone driving slowly in the fast lane. I worry about how ticklish my feet are when I get I pedicure. I panic at the thought of cats who can unlock doors. My cat has done this. It worries me. I panic at 4:17 p.m. every day for no good reason. When I see piece of cake I panic. Then I calm down. For now, I am happy and relax. I don’t have a worry in the world because you are panicking for me. When you all stop panicking, then I’ll really worry.
Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.