Don’t Panic

Don’t panic. If you’ve ever read Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you know all about that awesome catch phrase. Besides awesome works of fiction, it applies to any humans’ daily life as well.

Today I was driving to work and as I neared my destination (I was about ten minutes away) I felt this excruciating burning on my back. What the hell? I had to think about it for a second. Then it went away, and I kept driving. Then it came back. Holy shit, what the hell is that?! I knew what it was, but I couldn’t figure out how it got to my back. Then I realized all four of my windows were down (my AC doesn’t work) and the culprit must have gotten sucked into the cab of my truck.

Bee sting. Ouch.

Once I figured out it had to be a bee, I took deep, intentional breaths and found a spot to pull over (church parking lot). I was moving faster now as it was burning like hell. I threw the truck in park, hopped out, ran around the side away from the traffic and tore my shirt off over my head. I shook my stripped clothing vigorously and spotted the bee.

“Mr. Bee, why?” I asked as he fell to the ground. He didn’t answer but I knew that it didn’t matter why, it just mattered that I managed to not panic and was able to pull over and get my situation back to normal (without causing an accident) before I continued to work. When I got there, one of my female coworkers was in the office and I asked her to go in the bathroom with me and see if there was a stinger in my back. She looked and there wasn’t. Just a giant, red welt.

Okay, I can deal with that. I took some Advil, made my green tea and got on with my day.

So, why am I telling you this weird story about a bee sting and not panicking? Because when we panic, shit gets effed up. I mean, what if I had panicked and drove into oncoming traffic? Or hopped out of my moving car? I’m not sure that it is human nature to panic or of we just tell ourselves that because we’re expected to panic.

No matter what happens: don’t panic.

In my new book, I am writing about a carnival that comes to a small Pennsylvania coal town and a local waitress disappears during this time. Are they related? You’ll have to read the book to find out. But in writing my female lead, she is also the type of person who doesn’t panic – other people in my books panic, but my female leads don’t. I tend to like people who don’t panic…

Do you tend to panic or remain calm in high stress situations?

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