David Preece: Provocation comes in many forms – you have to find a way to deal with it

Sky Sports commentator Jamie Carragher.
Sky Sports commentator Jamie Carragher.
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I’ve mellowed in my old age. Things that would have made my blood boil in my 30s are now met with a shrug of indifference.

Like check-in queues at airports.

I hated queuing for anything, but especially when I had already departed with the price of a holiday, only to be made to shuffle around a snaking line and asked if I had anything sharp in my luggage.

I did actually reply to being asked that once by saying “Only my wit”. As you can imagine, it didn’t go down too well. Do not joke with airline staff!

Not that the queuing itself was the worst part of the airport experience. Patience wasn’t a virtue I was blessed with at birth, but it was something else that would tip me over the edge.

The number one rage-inducing act anyone could commit against me, in an airport or queueing anywhere else for that matter, is to stand too close behind me and begin to move forward as soon as they saw the person in front of me do so.

You know what I mean. They pre-empt you moving forward and, in their haste, they invade your personal space, usually by means of a suitcase rattled against your ankles or shoulder bag digging in to your arm.

I kid you not, I once felt the breath of the bloke behind me on the back of my neck and was tempted to throw my head back in the hope of catching his nose with it.

So what I have taken to doing in these situations is absolutely nothing. That’s right, nothing.

I wasn’t prepared to give in to the loud tutting and heavy exhalations of frustrations from behind any longer. So I decided to put my foot down.

If anyone wants to test my patience with the lack of theirs, I now wait until the person in front is three, maybe four places forward in the line before I begin edging forward and you can almost feel the rage building up inside the people behind.

It’s a challenge of nerve, one that I also exercise in public toilets after I’ve washed my hands.

Have you noticed that no matter how long the guy using the hand-dryer before you has been standing there, as soon as you queue behind him, he will move in under three seconds whether his hands are dry or not.

Not me. I keep my hands under the hot air for as long as it takes, no matter how many people are stood in line. Test yourself and try it next time you’re there.

So in my new found state of airport Zen, I wonder why it’s that 12 inches of space they progress matters so much.

It doesn’t mean they will reach the front of the queue and be attended to any quicker, but perhaps it’s psychological.

Being stationary allows the impatience to build and can only be released by forward motion only to reset once again.

Once I’d had my fun a few times, I began to think more deeply about it.

Were these terrible people who would rather walk through you than just wait or was there other possible explanations for their actions?

They might have been travelling for a whole day, exhausted and just desperate to get home.

They might have been away from loved ones for a long time and making their way back to see them.

Perhaps someone from their family was desperately ill and they were worried their race to see them would be in vain.

Only when you begin to think of rational reasons behind their impatience that you become more tolerant of their actions. And the more tolerant you become, the less affected you are, making the experience less stressful.

It’s even got to a point where if someone seems stressed out, I’ll gladly turn round and politely let them go past me and jump ahead, if only to make them feel slightly better. It’s no big deal to me.

So what has this got to do about football?

Well, you get quite a bit of abuse when you’re a footballer, manager or a coach and the more I have got over the years, the less I have allowed it to affect me.

There was a time when I’d stand and have a slanging match with fans behind my goal or dugout, quite often my own.

But this week I’ve been reminded of a game at Grimsby’s Blundell Park, for Lincoln City.

I was stood at the side of the dugout and, for the whole of the game, a middle-aged man proceeded to shout abuse at me.

Not just shout, but foam at the mouth. The whole game.

Imagine the worst thing someone could call you and you’ll get an idea.

Like I said, usually I might react differently to a group of men, but, in this case, I just turned round in disbelief and pointed at his wife and daughter and shrugged my shoulders in disbelief.

As it happens, as I left the stadium, he was waiting by the gates with his daughter, waiting for his wife to bring the car around.

So I approached him, calmly and asked why he’d act like that in front of his daughter.

“It’s just a bit of banter, mate.” Banter. The defence of a new breed of idiot.

So you’re probably guessing by now that I’m bringing this around to what happened to Jamie Carragher and make a defence of him.

Well, kind of.

Of course, as Jamie himself admitted, there is little excuse for what he did, but it’s certainly not unforgivable.

If the father in question can come out and say as such, then I think everyone else can put their pitchforks down too.

I wouldn’t react the same as Jamie did, but I don’t know what happened in the build-up to that moment either.

We all lose our heads sometimes, or even think about throwing them at the person behind us in a queue.

The same can be said of the father driving the car too.

What has happened in his day, or indeed his life to make him think that was the right way to act in front of a child of his?

I’m sure he feels a mistake has been made on his part too.

There will be plenty of people like Vinnie Jones who would ask us to put ourselves in the father’s position and question what we would do if that was our daughter in the car with us.

My answer to that would be that I wouldn’t be driving along with my window down to shout at someone and filming it, whilst I had my daughter in the car with me. Or if I was alone, for that matter.

So what happens next?

Do we come down harder on the cause of the incident or the consequence of it?

Because of Jamie’s suspension by Sky until the ended of the season, it seems to be the latter right now.