Some people are afraid of water that comes in large quantities, such as swimming pools, lakes and even the open sea. I am fine with the sea, as long as I stick to the beach at low tide. Last December, I ventured out for the first time ever in a glass-bottomed boat and I’ll admit I was not too keen, especially because said boat got stuck in the vegetation at some point. But the crew did not look even a bit worried so I decided to relax as well.
Other people are afraid of animals, more so dogs – our youngest will not go anywhere, even her best friend’s house, as long as these four-legged friends of man are in the same space. Whenever we visit my sister, who at the moment has about five in her compound, they must not only be locked up while she transits from car to house, but the gardener must stand guard at the kennels until she is inside the house. Sometimes the car has to be parked as close as possible to the door so she can literally hop into the building. I must say I’m doing better than her considering I’ve been bitten not once but twice!
Heard of white coat hypertension?
Still, others are afraid of hospitals – for some, that ‘hospital smell’ is enough to cause them to break into a sweat. I recently learned of a condition named “white coat hypertension”. Apparently, in some patients, feelings of anxiety brought about by being in a medical environment lead to abnormally high readings of their blood pressure!
I have known people who are afraid of lizards and their pale cousins, the geckos; someone else cannot stand live chickens (she has no problem with the one that lands on her plate in cooked form), while others are afraid of thunderstorms. I have spoken about my dread for needles, but I recently remembered another one – numbers.
As long as mathematics was compulsory in school, I considered my lot as one of suffering. They just did not make sense to me no matter which way I looked at them. Perhaps that is why I have some sympathy for our youngest whenever her report form shows some dismal results in the subject. I have never been one of those people who can do mental calculations for double-digit numbers, and I made my peace with that a long time ago. I recently listened to a young scholar share her love for anything numbers, which had led her to pick a degree course I’ve never heard of; I was awe-struck to say the least.
My situation was emphasised when I got in touch with a tax expert a few months ago in an effort to get a head start on filing my returns. After she had studied my records and patiently asked me questions, which I could not answer because I had no idea what she was talking about, she decided to engage another expert and suggested a meeting for the three of us. On the agreed date, we met in an office, me with all the information I could lay my hands on and them with their laptops.
They both sat across a table from me while studying my tax profile on the screen, and I soon started to feel like a medical patient whose condition was the subject of discussion by two specialist doctors. I sat there, mute, while they engaged each other in tax jargon while occasionally pointing at the screen.
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