Signalling problems (9 November 2018)

“Signalling problems between Chelmsford and Shenfield; we apologise for any delays and inconvenience”

On the train, I could see the faces fall, the eyes roll, the mouths go thin; the calculations start about what would be delayed when they finally got to London. The phones out; a few calls made, but mostly texts.

I am currently providing part-time evaluation support to a small London-based international organisation; and just before I left the night before, it was announced that a delegation of important people from an agency of the law in an ex-Soviet country were going to be here, using our office as a place to meet with various UK experts…….and, due to illness, meeting and greeting them, making a short speech, and generally making them feel comfortable and welcome was going to be my job for the day – starting at 9.00am…..

I live outside London; and I was delayed. Cue some stress; obviously shared with many fellow commuters. Then I saw some commuters change; doing the crossword, watching Minecraft, reading – gasp – a book! Managing and coping with the stress. Either they were being very cool – and some were – and/or they had made contingency plans. I had prepared the room and refreshments the night before; and had got the mobile number of our overseas staff member who was guiding the delegates. I also got the number of the organisation we share a building with – just in case……

I actually made it to our front door only 10 minutes late, and there was no sign of the delegation; but by thinking ahead and making contingency plans for the “expected” unexpected, I felt more confident that I could cope. Then, on the train, where I could not do anything else but wait until we reached our destination, I put on my earphones, listened to Tamla Motown, and finished the crossword. My fellow commuters had their own arrangements.

So expect things to go wrong and make backup plans; it will help your stress levels. And if there is nothing more you can do, try to think of other things!

All the best

Graham

PS: when I got around to checking my email, with no sign of the delegation, I found an email sent at 9.opm the night before: the delegation had cancelled! Aghhh!!!!
 

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