Slowly learning patience
You may find this hard to believe but, until very recently, I’ve always been a very impatient person. I know it seem inconsistent with my imagine of a semi-employed slacker but, while its true that I’m generally unconcerned and indecisive, on the rare occasion that I actually make a decision I make it quick and demand instant gratification.
Maybe it was all of the time I spent in my youth standing in lines. Between elementary school and the 21 years I was in the Navy, I’m pretty sure I spent at least 25 of my 35 years standing in line waiting for something. By the time I retired from the Navy, I decided that I was done with waiting and especially with lines. I’m no Dr. Phil but I’m guess that my aversion to waiting led to my chronic impatience.
My impatience has caused me a lot of trouble over the years. During my honeymoon I made standing reservations at the resort’s restaurant for breakfast at 9 a.m. sharp so we would never have to wait for a table. When we arrived for breakfast on the third day of our visit, the hostess ask us to have a seat because they were short staffed and would have to clear a table for us.
My bride calmly took a seat and began chatting with another waiting couple while I paced at the door like a caged animal. In the hundreds of times she has told this story over the years, my wife insists that we waited less than five minutes but I’m sure it was at least half an hour. When the hostess told me our table was ready I turned impatiently to follow her and didn’t notice I had left my new bride behind.
This is the part where I screwed up and the reason she has told the story hundreds of times over the years. When I noticed that she was still sitting in the waiting area, I turned, whistled, snapped my fingers and made an impatient beckoning gesture with my hand for her to follow.
Like I said earlier, I’m no Dr. Phil but from the look on her face and the look of shock and horror on the faces of the older couple she had been chatting with, I quickly determined that there might have been a better way to handle that situation. It seems that summoning your new bride in the same manner that you call your dog is inappropriate … even if you’ve been forced to wait for a table you reserved! Who knew?
I can assure I didn’t have to wait for the pain and suffering that accompanied that poor behavior. It doesn’t require a lot of imagination to figure out that for the rest of our honeymoon her attitude ranged from a bit strained to outright hostile when I would try to excuse my behavior by explaining, “we had a reservation and they made us wait!!”
I was young and hadn’t learned that women aren’t interested in logic when their feelings have been hurt. No wait, no wait … that wasn’t what I hadn’t learned! What was it the marriage counselor said? Oh yeah, I was young and hadn’t learned to be patient with things I can’t control and, I know there was something else… you don’t call your wife like you call your dog. That’s a bad thing.
It was my first but certainly not my last painful lesson in patience. Over the years I’ve pulled too many bonehead moves due to impatience to list them all here but I can share a few highlights. For example, I used to get my my family up early and drive them around for hours looking for a place with no line so we could “enjoy” Mother’s Day breakfast. To this day everyone in my family hates Mother’s Day or maybe they just hate me on Mother’s Day.
I think it was sometime in my late 50s that it finally occurred to me not everything was about me.
No really it’s true! It turns out that late planes, bad drivers and the very existence of Wal-Mart can’t make me a miserable old complaining jerk, it’s my impatience with them that does that!
I don’t know if it’s wisdom that comes with the years or the legalization of weed, but I’ve learned that if you just relax and take life as it comes even waiting can be fun. I’m still a jerk, but I’m more patient now.
Rick Seley is an award-winning humor columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.