Dealing with lots of people at the same time and keeping an eye on the big picture is usually not difficult for me; I am quite used to it from having worked at fairs for almost ten years now, and my former work place was in an open-plan office with many comings and goings, phone calls and other noise surrounding me every day.
So maybe I am either going nuts or getting old or both :-)
Today, my mum came to meet me around lunch time for a quick dash into town to get a few things she wanted for my dad's birthday do (he is 70 tomorrow). Since I have made it a point of leaving the house at least once a day ever since I have started working from home, I had offered to come with her.
It is not far from my house to the centre of our small town (less than 90.000 inhabitants), just down the road really, and within 10 minutes, you can be at the shopping mall.
So, off we went, well covered in padded coats and scarves and woolly hats.
By the time we reached a particular part of the road leading towards the centre, all of a sudden, everything seemed to be happening at once - and it was almost getting too much for me for a second or two:
Someone wanted to park on the pavement right next to where we were walking, while someone else was just vacating that same parking space. People coming towards us and people walking in front of us were undecided about which way to go, plus they were a lot slower than us, so that we could neither go past them nor comfortably stay behind them. A small kid on a bike, accompanied by his mum pushing a pram, kept frantically ringing the bell on said bike, in spite of there not being anyone in his way. And my mum, walking half at my side, half in front of me (for lack of space), kept turning halfway round to me, telling me about my aunt who had rung three times on Sunday about my dad's birthday party, and somehow she managed at the same time to ask what, if and where I wanted to eat anything, it being lunch time and all.
Right there and then, I was ready to stand still in the middle of the pavement, put my fingers in my ears, close my eyes and shout "STOOOOOOP!!!", but of course I didn't - instead, I pulled myself together and kept walking, answering mum's question(s), dodging the other people on the pavement, looking ahead to see where the narrow space allocated to us pedestrians would broaden again.
Moments later, the episode was as good as forgotten, and we had an enjoyable hour in town, finding the things we wanted (more about that tomorrow), and when I was home, I sat down with a cup of coffee and was ready to get back into working mode again.
Why I reacted like that for a moment I don't know; am I not used to being surrounded by many people every day, all day, anymore? Am I getting too old for that? (My mum is older and wasn't bothered in the least!) Or am I simply going nuts?
Maybe I just wasn't in the right set of mind for crowds. Next time I'll go into town at lunch time, I'll remember to switch into crowd mode first :-)