I was in my room in Delhi one day when I looked at the time. I had to make an important phone call but I suddenly realized that I didn’t have enough credit on my phone and so I rushed out of the hotel in order to find a shop where I could recharge my local SIM card.
Walking into the market area nearby, I looked left and I looked right. I saw a mobile phone shop down the road and so I headed in that direction. On the way, a cycle rickshaw almost ran over my foot, a motorcycle driver beeped his horn incessantly, a car tried to squeeze itself down the small street, the driver yelling at everyone to get out of his way, I stepped in a pile of trash, another pile of trash was set on fire in front of a shop selling belts, a man spat on the street and some of his dribble landed on my shoe…not a good start.
Upon arrival at the mobile phone shop, I learned that they don’t sell credit for my particular mobile network. The man behind the counter just told me to ‘go that way’ in order to find what I needed and he waved his hand in a vague direction. I left and continued my search.
After ten minutes, I found myself standing on a street corner scratching my head. I didn’t know what to do. I had found three mobile phone shops but none of them sold credit for my particular network and at this point, I was already five minutes late for my phone call. Not only that but I was exhausted, having not slept much the night before, and I wasn’t in the mood to wander all over a busy Delhi market, to dodge vehicles, cows and street carts, to listen to all of the noise, to step in trash and to get tugged on by people in the street trying to lead me to an “Official Tourist Office” that really has nothing “Official” about it. I was getting frustrated already and I could feel the stress starting to spread rapidly.
After attempting to take a few deep breaths, which also frustrated me as these breaths led to a few deep coughs, I glanced all around until I spotted a large mobile phone store on the next corner. And this store had my mobile phone network’s logo clearly displayed in the front window.
I ran over, walked in and asked to recharge my phone, all while feeling tense and worried about missing my call. Since I still haven’t memorized my local number, I then handed the man a small plastic folder that I keep in my pocket that has a sticker with my phone number on the front. He typed my number into his computer, I paid him the money and one minute later I received a text message stating that the recharge was successful.
Then I went to leave, but I quickly realized that the man behind the desk had not returned my small plastic folder. And I wouldn’t have cared much except that I had an important piece of paper in that folder, a piece of paper with some contact numbers on it that I really needed.
The man looked at his desk and the folder was nowhere to be found. He opened a couple of drawers, looked on the floor, asked the other staff in the shop…but the folder never appeared.
Standing there, I could feel the anger growing inside of me. I asked for my plastic folder again, shaking my head in disbelief. The man looked all over one more time but all he could do was shrug his shoulders and say “I don’t have it”. Normally, I’m a calm guy, but I wasn’t so calm at this point and I replied with a “I gave you the folder, find it!”.
The man looked under the desk, he looked under his computer screen, he even checked all of his pockets. Nothing.
I checked the time on my phone, became even angrier once I saw that I was now ten minutes late for my call, and then I just told the man, in what I can only describe as a not-so-friendly tone, “Look again and when you find it, hold onto it and I’ll be back later!”. Then I stormed out of the shop and off towards my hotel, completely ignoring the shop owners calling out to me, pushing my way through the crowds, upset with everything and just trying to get back to my hotel room as quickly as possible.
A few minutes later I was finally in the quiet of my room ready to make my call. I took my phone out of my pants pocket and sat down in a chair.
And then, just before I started dialing the number, I noticed that along with my phone, I had also pulled out some Indian rupees from my pocket, as well as….yes, my small plastic folder.
The man at the mobile phone store must have returned the plastic folder to me when he gave me the change for my recharge purchase and my overall frustration at the time had simply made me forget.
Once I realized this, I just slumped down into the chair, put my face down and sat there feeling like a complete ass and idiot. It was not a high point of this trip.
Take it slow. Nothing is really worth getting so upset about that you end up taking it out on other people. Life is all about how we treat others. And the way I treated the man in the mobile phone shop was unacceptable and it was all because I let my own problems and my own frustrations affect my behavior towards those around me.
Eventually, I made my ‘important’ phone call and guess what, it didn’t matter at all that I was almost thirty minutes late. And had I followed my own advice and just ducked into a cafe, taken a seat in a quiet restaurant or relaxed in a park for a few minutes until my sudden bout of stress had passed, the entire afternoon would have turned out completely different.
Sure, I might have been a few more minutes late for my phone call but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, and I surely would have ended up treating those around me in a manner that I wouldn’t have been so embarrassed about.
Any similar stories you want to share from your own travels or from life in general? How do you stop and check yourself before your frustrations affect your behavior?