Article Date: 11/1/2011

“Who Is It?” “Who Is It?”
lessons learned

“Who Is It?” “Who Is It?”

You can't be your best — when you find yourself stressed.

Jack Runninger, O.D.

“Who is it?” said the voice from inside the house, when the plumber knocked at the door.

“The plumber,” he called out, not realizing it was a parrot to whom he was responding.

“Who is it?” said the parrot repeating the only three words he could speak.

“It's the plumber,” he replied, more loudly this time.

“Who is it?” said the parrot.

“It's the plumber! The plumber!” he screamed at the top of his voice. Stressed by his frustration, the plumber fell over dead from a heart attack.

A few minutes later, the couple returned home, and discovered the body on their doorstep. As the husband turned the body over, his wife asked, “Who is it?”

“It's the plumber!” shouted the parrot.


ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER

The small stuff

Stress is, unfortunately, a part of life we must endure. However, over the years I've learned there are ways to help reduce it. For example, a cardiologist has said there are only two rules of life: 1) Don't sweat the small stuff. 2) It's all small stuff.

The plumber shows what can happen if we get worked up over unimportant things, or things over which we have little or no control. Another rule to remember is to eliminate the source of stress wherever possible. Forty years ago, I had not learned to say no to various church and civic volunteer jobs, and consequently found myself doing a whole lot of things I really hated, because I thought it was my civic duty. And I ended up having a stroke while still in my 40s.

“You have to eliminate all the sources of stress you can,” my neurologist told me. “Wherever possible, do only the things you enjoy.”

So I learned to say no, found my life much less stressful, and am still alive and kicking 40 years later.

He didn't like school

Unfortunately, it's not always possible to cease doing things you don't like:

“I'm not going to school today!” he pouted. “All of the kids hate me, and so do the teachers.”

“But you can't just decide not to go,” replied his mother.

“Why not?”

“Because you're 42 years old, and principal of the school.”

The alternative to stress

One thing we tend to forget is that we do need to have some stress in order to keep life interesting and productive. When I graduated from high school, I spent the summer working in a factory to earn money for college. I was assigned to help a man who had been working on the same job for over 25 years. Every day he did the same routine job, repeatedly inserting sheets of metal in a stamping machine over and over.

“They offered me a job as foreman a long time ago, but I didn't want all that hassle,” he said.

He had eliminated all the stress in his job, and replaced it with utter boredom.

Looking for a treasurer

But it would be nice not to have too much stress, like this small business owner:

“Why are you so stressed?” someone asked him.

“We're looking for a treasurer,” he replied.

“But I thought you just hired a new treasurer a few months ago.”

“We did. That's the one we're looking for!” OM


JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@COMCAST.NET.

Optometric Management, Issue: November 2011