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Five things to do when things go bad

I opened the front door to my apartment yesterday evening to find an early, unwelcome, and unpleasant Christmas present waiting for me inside: my power had been turned off. Apparently, the Hawaiian Electric Company finds it completely acceptable to turn off your service when you are a new tenant in the building -- and gives you NO warning, by email or otherwise, as to when or why it is happening.

What made this matter worse is that my friend came over to cook steak on my electric stove. We were hoping to drink a bottle of Merlot, and watch "Superbad" on DVD. Instead, we both showered by candlelight, ate out at a mediocre Vietnamese pho restaurant, went to Walmart to stock up on more candles, and are calling it a night.

There are, however, some awfully good lessons to be learned from such an experience as this. If you're one of the many travelers stuck at an airport in the northern U.S., an unhappy backpacker in the middle of nowhere, or a peeved resident living in a city serviced by an incompetent and unresponsive electricity company, then please resist the urge to cry about it. Here are a few things you could try to get your life back on track when things go bad.

  1. Be creative: If you're not having fun in your current situation, find a way to make it fun. As long as there's gas in it, your car can be one of the most enjoyable tools for happiness. Turn up the heat in your Chevy, take a road never traveled, and slowly find your way back home. If you don't have a car, use your feet. You'll be surprised how much you never noticed about even the most familiar of surroundings.
  2. Reach out to a loved one: So, you're all alone in some backward country that you thought you'd love, but it turns out you hate it. Think positively: things will not be this bad forever. Take out a piece of paper and write a letter to a loved one, using your pen as an outlet for frustration, anger, sadness, and expression. Or, if you can get to a phone, give that person a call and tell him/her how much s/he's missed.
  3. Strike up a conversation with a stranger: I love making new friends in the most random places. The conversation starter here would be your current, shared, miserable experience/existence. My best friend met her husband while waiting for flight in Albequerque. It's amazing how much a light conversation can ease your inner tension. If nothing else, your little debate can pass the time.
  4. Indulge in your favorite food: Forget that Weight Watchers diet. Take out that stash of Baskin-Robinns Peanut Butter 'n Chocolate ice cream (sorry for the food plug here, it's my one weakness) and go to town. At least your belly will thank you.
  5. Get some zzz's: Sleep is one of the best cures for whatever crisis you might be in. Shrug off your problem for a few hours with a little shuteye.

I hate the sight of frustrated tears, and I particularly detest angry protests by customers upon innocent flight attendants (though, I must confess, I too have instigated such arguments). The best thing you can do in rough times is grin in bear it. Things always get better in time.

Filed under: Learning, Stories, Africa, Asia, North America, South America, Antarctica, United States, Airports, News, Travel Health

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