Credit card payment machines that say “dip your card and remove quickly.” Quickly? How quickly? Will my purchase be cancelled if my hand lingers too long? Will my card get eaten? For me, the command to act with speed has the opposite effect. I feel paralyzed and instead of a graceful swipe, my card slowly jerks its way through the slot.
Unreturned texts from offspring who log thousands of minutes monthly. Even in that rare gap when the phone is off (or just as unlikely, not in hand), the usual response time is short for at least a “k,” “!” or “:-).” So, when a text goes unanswered, my mind goes to places it never should, but where a mother's worry inevitably takes it.
Caller id information of undetermined origin. If I can't identify the name or number, I agonize over whether to pick it up. If I let the machine get it, and it turns out to be someone I really did need to talk to, then I risk playing telephone tag. If I do pick up, then what voice should I use – a suspicious monotone to block any opening for a solicitor to talk through, followed by a quick pivot to warmth if I've entered friendly territory?
The track pad on my new laptop. Wait, how did the print suddenly get so big? And who told the lines of my document to start shifting on and offscreen like that? The transition from mousepad to the sensitive rectangle that directs movement clearly shouldn't be made in middle age.
So, those are a few of the things giving me agita, tsouris, and just good old American anxiety these days. What's been eating you lately?