Friday, May 01, 2009

Waiting and Willing

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.


  1. 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. Thanks for posting this. I really needed it. *hugs*

  2. I was wondering the other day - how exactly did we live our lives before all the electronic gadgets; faxes, cell phones, laptops and PDAs? Express and drive thru lanes, self checkouts, and on line ordering. Yet the biggest thing I hear from everyone around me is how they don't have time to do anything. I don't mind waiting - I've learned a lot by being a watcher.

  3. I have been both people in my life - the harsassed impatient who would knock over a Granny in my quest to get to the newly opened till that will get me out of there in a heartbeat. I hate queueing as a rule so I internet shop for gifts and such like. Now, if I have to wait it is in my own home where I have a multitude of things I can be getting on with. I am also very fortunate not to need to work so my time is much more leisurely and I find as you do, that queueing can be used more productively as I have no stress or pressures to distract my thoughts. I still hate queueing though! Terrific post and very thought provoking.

  4. Ah, yes, I remember it well... the longer I waited, the higher the stress levels and frustration. And, according to Murphy's Law, the busier I was, the longer the wait.

    Not any more. I'm happy to stand in line and people watch, or listen to conversations. I'll stick the headphones for my music, or think of scenes. I'll bring a book, a magazine, notebook, the mobile phone to play with since I don't know most of what it can do.

    And I'm much more relaxed about Life. But... oh Hell! The Forward Motion Story-a-day marathon is on! Gotta run!

    Word verification: vabloysu.

    And I say: Bless you!

  5. I sometimes wonder what is so important that someone can't put down their cell phone to stand in line, drive the car, etc.

    I mean it can't be an emergency because they are laughing and yelling like a hyena. What happened to calling someone from the comfort of home or writing a letter and having the thrill of the wait and opening a letter back. Right now my son asks me everyday if he has mail because he wants something to open. I dread the mail because it is either a bill or more junk I have to shred.

    No nice letters because everyone calls me on their cell phone when they stand in line, talk for two seconds then say gotta go..I'm at the head of the line.

    Is that really the best communication style?

  6. Hurrying isn't worth the stress and doesn't seem to get things done any faster. I hope you had fun painting, much better use of time than fretting.

  7. Cyber...the other day my son insisted he couldn't get a hold of his friend without his brother's cell phone. I told him to use the house phone like in the "good old days". His friend didn't answer; but he did respond to a text *sigh*

    And Lynn, I find waiting always goes down easier if you throw in a little busy work ;-)

  8. Beth...I think we should lobby for a national no cell phone day!

  9. It's easier learning to wait in a family of six people. Especially for the bathroom :D

    Totally agree you

  10. Strange: these days, people have more entertainment while waiting in line--cell phones, magazines, even has televisions blaring in the checkout lines--yet they hate waiting in line more than they did in previous days when there was no entertainment.

    Solution: take away all in-line entertainment.

  11. I know this. Really, I do. And I totally agree about taking it slow (it's actually my non fict book proposal) , but it's the pileup. The waiting for one agent, one editor, and the counter offer on the house. I go all splodey and need to leave the house. Taking it out on my weeds did help.

  12. Although I later needed one because I was moving out of my parents place, I didn't have a cell phone about four years ago, and really didn't care.

    However, our home line got a few telemarketer calls from Rogers around that time, with cell phone offers. Ironically, I feeling patient enough not to just say goodbye and hang up, so I listened then said I didn't have a cell phone and didn't want one. This seemed to confuse her to the point where she got insulting - "You don't want a cell phone?", with her tone silently adding, _What, are you weird or something?_

    An amusing experience, and pretty evident of the attitude that's become prevalent, methinks. Not that I don't appreciate my cell phone now - but really, the attitude that you NEED one to LIVE is a little overboard.

    That said, I too needed this kind of post to remind me to take a deep breath and take time to enjoy all of life's experiences, even the ones that involve you waiting in line. :)

  13. Anonymous12:03 PM

    I've always been slower than amy other people, except when I got a degree in broadcast journalism. It was good for me, and I loved interviewing people and writing stories. And for awhile, I thrived on adrenaline.
    But when m first child was born, I knew I did not want to go back into journalism. It had been fun and I loved the people I worked with, but I've never regretted making the disconnection.
    It's taken me longer to slow down than it did to speed up. I think it was a combination of society speeding up, and my thyroid as well. But I really enjoy life more fully. Plus, it's much easier to eavesdrop and daydream. :)

  14. I'm pretty good about waiting in lines, probably because I always have a book with me. I'll just pull it out and read while I wait.

    I've noticed that if you are really nice about waiting in a restaurant or other places you get stuff for free. Several years ago a friend and I were out to eat and the waiter brought us our bill before we had even seen our food. We had been sitting there for about 30 minutes and the manager not only paid for our meal, plus dessert, he gave us gift cards to come back and eat again on them.

  15. I love the line "I have things to do while I'm waiting." I usually say "I'm in no hurry," but I love the concept of the above.

  16. I'm with Nadia, you don't know how much I needed to read this post today. :) Thanks.

  17. Love the praying over getting an account straightened out : )
    Nice reminder to slow down--thanks.

  18. I'm not much for patience, and yet somehow I ended up in a professional that has more waiting time than I ever would have guessed.

    However, my being impatient never helps, never speeds things up, so I try to be a little more patient.

    The only time waiting in a line stretches my limit, though, is when the rottens are making it torture for me and everybody around us.

  19. Life has been so hectic since having the girls. And you being a Mum will emapathise with the "I want it now" screaming. When I get time by myself as I did on Friday unexpectedly. I just breathe. Things will soon be busy again so I like to think a little to myself.

    There is nothing like waiting in hospitals to teach one how to wait. DOnt know what it is like over there but here waiting is a must. In fact the last appointment we had a remembered my book and had primed my daughter about the wait. We took a bit of food and a magazine for her. We were in and out of the hospital in less than an hour. Daughter remarked to me tearfully on the way home that she hadnt gotten to play with the toys in the waiting room. I too felt cheated out of a quiet read.
    If you fancy a read check this out:-
    Husband jsut got aa phone with the internet on so I am sure he will be one of those techies in the queues in the future.


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