Music soothes the savage beast

When the customers stress you out, take a tip from Julie Andrews and whistle a merry tune, so no-one ever knows you're afraid. Jeff Dray shares his tips for staying sane on the job.

This is my tip for unwinding after a "difficult" customer. I treat all my customers the same, but sometimes they want to pass the stress of their job onto me, and in the past I have been guilty of taking it on board and letting it show at the next port of call.


I don't believe that it is fair to anyone to pass on your angst, but I can understand why people do it. What is not always realized is that it is not healthy or helpful to do this, and bottling up this kind of tension can lead to health problems. Fortunately there is usually a long journey between my calls, and I use this time to expel those tensions. I have several techniques that I use to clear my head, some of which can draw unwanted attention from my fellow road users.

First there is the screaming technique. There's nothing sophisticated about it; I simply scream at the top of my voice to expel tension. I suggest that it is best to have the windows closed and to use a highway trip for this. People in built-up areas tend to note down my registration number and call 911 if they observe this method.

I often use music to wind down, but the choice of artist is very important. My tastes are wide ranging and eclectic. Anything from Wagner to Beethoven with a smattering of Pink Floyd, ELO, and even the massed pipes and drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon guards have all found their way into my car's CD player. I find that Beethoven can lead to reckless driving and speeding, Wagner can lead to road hogging and poor lane discipline, the Floyd can lead to being too laid back and taking hours to get anywhere. Just so long as nobody puts a country CD in when I'm not looking, because that would be too much to bear.

My favorite method is to drop by home and spend a few minutes playing my guitar, but this is only possible if the call is nearby.

What is most important is to break out of the cycle and allow yourself to restart the day. Having worked for many years in the service field, I know from personal experience how harmful it can be to bottle up tensions.

This isn't an entirely frivolous posting; the issue of stress buildup can have a real impact on your health. It is important not to bottle things up. I used to feel aggrieved when customers took out their angst on me; after all, I'm the good guy. I'm trying to get things working. Most of my customers appreciate this and are very supportive and pleased to see me, but as the old saying goes, you can't please all the people all the time.

What tracks and artists help you get over the stressy parts of the day?

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