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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Worrywart

I don’t need anyone to tell me what my problem is—I know what my problem is: I worry too much. I worry about everything, starting with all the careless shit I did throughout the day, to all futuristic things that are completely out of my control: Did the mailman think I was flirting with him today? Did I mail the car payment on time? What will I do if my kids want to play with Barbies someday?           
This year, I’m trying not to worry as much. I figure it’ll be better for my health in the long run too. If I’m this worried about life now—like I’m a parent to teenagers—imagine what I’ll be like when I do have them…. Christ, I’ll probably have ulcers by then.
My official worrywart syndrome was put to test last week. Skipping out of the bar for my break, I couldn’t wait to eat my homemade pizza and read this book that's so electrifying, I even find myself reading on BART’s escalators. Before marching into the kitchen, I glanced at next week’s schedule, only to discover that I was scheduled to work a day I don’t normally work—and it was on my ruca’s birthday! I began to choke dementedly, as if my breath were a spindly fish bone, as I checked and re-checked the schedule. There was no way around it: I was working on her birthday, and I was screwed!
Panicking, I fled to my manager, spewing some kind of jumble along the lines of “can’t work!” “birthday”, and “doghouse for days.”
He’d been watching the bar as my cover, and blinked his doubts at me. “Did you request it off?”
            “Yeah, but months ago.”
            “Are you sure?”
            I scratched my head. Now that he mentioned it, I wasn’t.
            I offered solutions of switching the shift around but it didn’t look good. School schedule for this bartender, vacation for another…. A couple came to the bar suddenly and my manager turned around to greet them, his signal that the conversation was over, and tough shit.
            Sighing, I went to the kitchen. “Sara, como estás?” the dishwasher chirped at me.
            “Bien,” I mumbled.
            “Sarita! Qué te pasa?” Rafa in pantry asked.
            “Nada,” I shrugged irritably.
            My pizza was fabulous—with fresh tomatoes, broccoli, and salty kalamata olives—but I ate it with as much enthusiasm as a soggy leftover burrito. The chapter I was reading was as alluring as ever—the protagonist’s ship has just sunk and he finds himself in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger—but the words flickered as much excitement to me as a Monday morning, and my eyes rolled dully across the pages.
Not only was I bummed, but I was worried sick about how my ruca would take the news. “You wanna go to Napa? dinner? a party? Gee, that sounds great but I gotta work.” Or: “Babe, you didn’t really want me around on your birthday, did you?”
She was gonna be pissed! She was gonna be crushed! Five birthdays from now, she’d be licking frosting off her candle and snark at me bitterly, “Remember that birthday you had to work?”
Somewhere in the back of my head, I heard another voice peep through. Stop worrying! Things will work out, they always do.
Except when they don’t, my other voice snapped back.
No! That was negative, pessimist thinking. Miracles happen…sometimes. Really, who knows? Maybe someone will come to me, short for rent, and beg me for my shift. Or maybe the restaurant will flood, be filled with water like a fishbowl, and by default I’ll get the day off—although I really don’t think I should hope for that.
Sigh. Worse case scenario, I’d work the shift and my ruca would understand—she’d have to.
            My half hour was up. I’d spent my entire break miserable, had hardly remembered what I’d just read, and half of my gourmet pizza was sitting in a massive pile of compost.  
As I grunted my way back to the bar, I checked the schedule, desperate to look for someone I might've missed. But as I looked at it, it was as if my name had magically disappeared from the shift. I’d been swapped for a different day—the ruca’s birthday was now wide open! 
My manager, now standing at the host desk, straightened his tie and winked his silent You’re welcome.
I was as giddy as gumdrops! I whooped and cheered and beamed! I had the day off, and that was by far the best present I could give to my ruca.

Later in bed, I stayed up for hours agonizing. I’d had the perfect chance to prove myself that I didn’t need to worry, and instead, I'd glummed around as miserable as Eeeyore's rain cloud. Would I ever change? Would I ever learn to have some faith that things work out? 
I suddenly realized my irony: I was worried again about worrying when the only thing I should’ve been worried about was losing sleep!
Telling that incessant voice in my head to kindly shut up, I closed my eyes, and melted into peaceful slumber.

© Sarah C. Jiménez, All Rights Reserved 2012


  1. Keep up the great work and "hey, take it eeezy"!

  2. Your experience reminds me of my own... my issue is being WAY to hard on myself. I condemn myself to eternal defectiveness for behaviors that aren't really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. So my mentor, in her infinite wisdom, advised me to "let myself off the hook" for doing something or not doing something that I think I SHOULD have done or not done. Then, (this is the crazy part) she says that if I'm not able to "let myself off the hook," that I could try letting myself off the hook for not being able to let myself off the hook. And then, I think "Am I really that neurotic?" I think that I am, but I think that we all suffer from something like this sometimes.