Every now and then, I stop at a stoplight behind a long line of cars, and I see a homeless person working their way down the line, asking for money. And it always makes me stressed, because although I'm happy to give money to homeless people, that particular context makes for physical awkwardness. My wallet is in the front pocket of my pants, so getting it out of my pants pocket takes time and effort, and while I'm doing that I also have to be keeping an eye on the stoplight to see if it turns green, and on the line of cars ahead of me to see if they move, and so on. So the whole situation causes me anxiety, and I know my focus should be on helping someone who needs help, but instead my focus in those situations tends to be on how tense it's making me.
I was thinking about that yesterday, for no particular reason, and I had a minor epiphany:
I could take a little bit of money out of my wallet right now and put it somewhere that would make it very easy to get from the driver's seat. And then I wouldn't have to worry about the whole getting-money-out-of-my-pocket-while-seated thing.
Somehow this had never occurred to me before. It's a situation that's been coming up every now and then for years, but it had never occurred to me that a tiny amount of one-time advance preparation could make that situation simpler and easier for me and for everyone else involved.
(Well, okay, not precisely “one-time”; I only put $5 in the cup holder, so I'll need to replenish it eventually.)
And I feel like this is a useful general paradigm for me. Is there something that causes me some amount of stress every time it comes up? Is there a relatively easy piece of advance preparation that I could do outside of the repeated-pattern situation that would ease that stress? If so, maybe I should do that preparation.
(Added later: Of course there are many circumstances in which advance preparation isn't feasible; this paradigm is obviously not a panacea.)