Heightened Tensions

It’s not breaking news that the nation is tense, but I’ve been struck recently by how local this increased stress is. Tensions around the neighborhood and the town are increased in visible ways and it’s clear how much stress people are under.

Today I watched as a landscaper yelled and swore at a coworker. It wasn’t clear what the complaint was – something about how much money they deserved – but it was clear that they were extremely agitated. As the yelling went on for a few minutes I went outside to keep an eye on them but fortunately the elderly homeowner came out and the presence of a customer seemed to calm them down.

Later in the day, I witnessed an almost fender-bender where the front car stopped for a pedestrian, the rear car barely stopped in time, then the rear driver yelled and swore at the first driver. That is (unfortunately) typical road rage behavior (although less common on a quiet suburban street) but what startled me was the reaction of the pedestrian who yelled and swore at the second car. They escalated an already tense situation in a way that seemed clear everyone’s stress level was already high.

The whole question of remote vs hybrid school has raised people’s sensitivities. When choice is taken away and people feel backed into a corner they get defensive and lash out in vicious ways.

Earlier in the week there were reports of rude middle-school boys (is it unfair to call that a redundant phrase?) which then led to online posts from parents on various sides arguing about passive aggressiveness, being too strict on kids just having fun, and general unpleasantness (I wonder where these kids get their attitude).

Disciplining other people’s kids is always tricky because your standards are potentially different than what they are used to and it’s really hard to tell someone they are being rude without coming across as rude yourself. But when their behavior (for example, not wearing masks) seems to endanger you, it adds to the stress of seeing dangerous behavior and not knowing whether to say something about it or not. It’s a tricky situation that many are in on a daily basis and their baseline anxiety level continues to rise.

Between working from home, having kids in remote school from home, racial protests, concerns about health, concerns about finances, national political mess, and not being able to unwind in typical ways (restaurants, bars, evenings out), the individual and collective tension is sky high and not getting better any time soon.

I hope that people can take a deep breath, assume best intentions of others, and try to get through this difficult time, but for many people that is easier said than done.

Things that went well this week:

  • Welcome home, Nana! After a decade in Dallas my mom retired and moved back to Belmont. After her mandatory 2-week quarantine she’ll be able to see the girls, meet Daisy, and start her new life as a retiree.
  • Remote schooling continues to go well in our household – we seem to be lucky to have kids who follow rules and get their work done and it makes our lives so much easier
  • The weather has been wonderful with warm evenings that has unexpectedly extended our outdoor time into late September

Things that did not go well:

  • 1,000,000 million COVID deaths world-wide is a very grim milestone to pass
  • Number of cases increasing locally with reports from my office and the kids’ school of positive cases which adds to the local concern
  • The Celtics lost in the Eastern finals and their season is done – it was a good run and it provided a nice distraction from real life

Random happy find from the web:

Cute puppy photo of the day:

Daisy and I enjoy a warm fall evening

Featured image courtesy of drashchiheart.com/stressed-out

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