Tiredness Test



David Whitley takes a look at those times we find ourselves getting annoyed on the road, and offers one simple piece of advice for stopping the frustration boiling over 


There will come a day, perhaps not too far in the distant future, when something really bad happens at the Upper Crust stall in Sheffield train station. I have a tendency to get rather angry every time I go there. I’ll be after a sandwich – a bit of breakfast to take on the train with me. But I’ll get stuck behind two or three people who are just ordering coffee.


Alas, with only one member of staff making the coffee, these people will order the coffee, and the member of staff won’t take any more orders until the coffee has been made and paid for. Thus the simple task of saying: “This sandwich please” and paying for it can take around ten minutes. And that’s often a ten minutes I don’t have because I need to get on the train.


One day, I’ll properly crack (rather than mumble and moan in the queue). I’ll grab the coffee-drinking queue hog and shout: “Look, cretin. Upper Crust is for sandwiches. It’s where you buy sandwiches, not coffee. If you want coffee, there is a Caffe Ritazza just behind it. Which, as the name suggests, specialises in coffee.” I’ll then march him over to Caffe Ritazza, and possibly knee him in the balls for good measure.


This would, I concede, be completely unreasonable behaviour. But the problem is that I always tend to pass through Sheffield station needing something to eat when I’m either tired or hungover. And when I’m tired or hungover, I’m not the most reasonable person in the world.


Tiredness is something that has to be dealt with whilst travelling. And the nature of the beast dictates that you generally encounter the most stressful situations when you are tired. Trying to find the right bus for your destination at 6am in a strange bus station, working out the public transport system after a long flight, checking into a hotel where your booking has gone missing... That sort of thing. The problems you need to deal with often arrive at the moments when you’re least equipped to deal with them.


If you’re anything like me – and patience has never been my strong point – these are also the times when you start to lose it somewhat and get exasperated. That’s the polite word for shouty and sweary, incidentally. There’s nothing like a nice stomp around, bellowing “Oh for fuck’s sake” to serve no purpose and make you look like a complete arsehole.


In situations like this there is a tendency to take things out on all and sundry; the people around you, the kindly local who is doing you a favour by trying to point you in the right direction, the staff member who is trying their best to sort the problem. These are people who inevitably don’t know the other frustrations you’ve suffered in the lead up and won’t have your irritation-addled perspective on things. In short, you’ll look like an idiot.


For this reason it’s always worth storing one question in the back of your mind, ready to be pulled out at any time when you feel like you’re getting angry. And that is: “Would I be doing this if I wasn’t so tired?”