” Now I don’t want you to panic but…”
The one phrase virtually guaranteed to evoke the exact opposite of the requested outcome.
Two weeks ago I was on the receiving end of this phrase.
Many moons ago I was the deliverer. I remember it well. I was in my final year at university. I was in the middle of the road at 8am. In my pyjamas. Phoning my dad. Watching our house burn and smoulder.
I am nothing if not resourceful in an emergency though. On my way out of the inferno I did manage to grab BOTH my mobile and my Marlboro Lights….and even my lighter! I was an ardent smoker back then and trust me, if anything is going to make you need a fag, watching your house burn will.
Having uttered the dreadful phrase I then informed my dad that no really we were all fine. All of my housemates were safe, but poor old K had followed all previous fire-drill instructions to the letter and had not wasted time getting dressed and the like so we had wrapped her in a towel and attempted to protect her modesty as the street filled with looky-loos, mostly of the male, twenty-something, student variety. I then informed him NOT to call Mum. She would only panic.
Three seconds after hanging up my mobile literally buzzed out of my hand.
“What? What has happened? Are you ok? Talk to me? How bad is it? Where are you? What’s wrong?”
“I’m fine Mum. My house is just on fire. But the firemen are here now.”
Ok so perhaps it wasn’t the most calming of explanations.
Two weeks ago it was my turn to panic.
I was at work when I got the call from Mr B.
“Now I don’t want you to panic but….”
Cue racing heart-beat, urge to vomit, mad dash to replace my work-heels with shoes I can actually walk in, WHERE are my shoes? Ask a million inane questions, WHERE did I put my shoes? Breathe, listen, say calming words such as…
” I am leaving right now. Where are my shoes? Where am I going? What department? What floor? What building?”
” Jenny calm down. I said don’t panic. Children’s hospital. Third floor. Emergency.”
“EMERGENCY, shit shit shit, where are my shoes? I’m coming, I’ll be there in five, don’t panic, shit.”
The boy had been slightly unwell that morning but it was Mr B’s day to look after him while I went to work. He got more unwell. Quite rapidly.
I did make it to the hospital in record time. He was already being attended to by extremely calm and extremely competent and possibly the loveliest people in the world. The staff were just awesome. They even calmed me down.
It was a rather nasty case of viral adenitis, and not meningitis as was briefly feared. They looked after him. They soothed him. They medicated him. Eventually they let us go home. And two weeks later my little monkey is tearing around the place again like nothing happened.
I will never be able to thank them enough.
I also learnt that I may have my Mother’s propensity to panic when instructed not to do so.
And my shoes were under my desk right in front of me the whole time, naturally.