In this right-here-right-now world, when we can't leave the house to run to the market without taking along the mobile phone, the GPS, the PDA and Lord knows what else, I think waiting is becoming a lost art.
When I'm standing in line at a store, and I'm the next person to be waited on, inevitably a clerk or manager comes to me and says, "Ma'am, there's no waiting in line five/cosmetics/the service desk." As if the forty-five seconds I'm going to wait for my turn might kill me.
I hate moving to another line. I'm superstitious; I usually have bad luck if I believe the promise of no-waiting. If I try to go to that place, someone faster with a truckload of purchases will dart in front of me, or the register will need a new tape, or some other calamity will happen that will make me wait three times as long as I would have if I'd just stayed put.
There are always the same reactions when I politely refuse to go to this spot of no-waiting. The clerk gapes at me. The store manager frowns. People walking past me stop and stare. Sometimes they'll try to make me go to the other line by seizing my cart or tugging at my arm. As if I'm too old and befuddled to understand the concept of no-waiting.
I'm rarely in that big a hurry. The more I hurry, the less I like myself, and I've spent too many years trying to get everything done yesterday. I've learned that waiting = calm. I am at peace in line. In fact, I'm probably plotting out a scene in my head. I am self-employed, my own boss, and while I work hard, I don't have to race back to the office. The minute or two I save by rushing I'll probably spend trying to come down from feeling frazzled. Leave me alone and let the poor day-job people running errands on their lunch hours have all the no-waiting.
Good things come to those of us who wait. At the deli I once let a nasty customer who needed six subs go ahead of me, and when the demanding jackass finally left, the counterman thanked me and gave me my order for free. One time when my salad didn't arrive with the rest of my family's orders at a restaurant, I didn't make a big deal out of waiting, and the manager not only stopped by to apologize but gave us all free dessert. I like free food.
My best experience with waiting did test even my limits of patience, though. I spent an entire week on the phone with my mobile company to straighten out a mistake they'd made with my account. Every day I was one with them for two or three hours, but we couldn't get the snafu fixed. It was such a mess that at one point the nice customer service rep (a lovely gentleman from India) actually prayed together with me. But at last the company's computers cooperated, and the service rep thanked me by slipping me 1300 extra minutes for free on the sly. That would have cost me something like $200.00 to purchase.
I'm not always patient, but I've learned to use my waiting time to my advantage. I always carry a book in my purse, and a voice recorder, and a notepad and pen. Whenever I get a new magazine, I usually bring it with me to read in the cart while I'm waiting in the school pick-up line. I take a portable radio/CD player with me to PT so while I'm waiting for the sadist who works on me to come round and begin the torture I can listen to music or one of my favorite albums. Sometimes when I'm waiting I don't do anything more than people watch. I try to appreciate the fact that while the rest of the world seems to be in a perpetual hurry, when I wait I always have a little time to daydream or think or just be in the moment.
Right now I'm waiting on some info from NY. I've been waiting for it for three weeks, and I'll probably wait another couple of days. I'm done my daily scheduled work, so when I finish writing this, I'll head out to the garage and do a little painting. This afternoon I plan to rearrange one of the closets. At one time in my life I would have been pacing the floor or making nuisance calls to see what the holdup is; now I really don't care. The info will arrive when NY decides to send it; I have things to do while I'm waiting.