Sunday, December 11, 2005


This is an example of my column in the weekly paper. A bit longer than usual.

“Wait a second” I had been known to say to one of my offspring in an earlier day, especially when I was trying to tie a shoe on a constantly moving foot, or pull a diaper tight on Mr. Wiggly Butt there on the bed. Unfortunately, a second was about all they could manage. For life was just too full of other interesting things to do than wait.
It doesn’t really get any better as we get older. We live in a hurry-up world, trying to pack an inordinate amount of activity into our waking hours, but still seem to get caught in the “wait zone” more often than not. Wait for that light to change, the nurse to call your name after sitting in the waiting room for what seemed like days, for the end of the work day. How about waiting for Santa, counting the days until vacation, or the seemingly interminable 9 months for little Arnold or Adelaide to decide to find their way into the light? Yeah, we do a lot of biding the old time. Why, Wilson Pickett even had to “wait for the midnight hour.” I guess that’s when he got off work, or something.
Are you a good waiter? Can you handle traffic, slow service, long lines? Patience is that one virtue that I am not genetically wired for. I guess I get it from my dear old dad, who knew every short cut known to modern man, and would drive 6 blocks in three different directions, violating most road ordinances, to avoid a main street and “that damn traffic”.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my mom gave me vitamins when I was a squirmy second grader, to the complete horror of my teacher Miss Murphy. It is a good thing there were no hot lines then, otherwise mommy would have had a visit from “the worker.”
Of course, us non-patient sorts always seem to get into situations that put us to the test. I am the guy who should wear a sign on my back in a store: “Standing behind me in line may be hazardous to your health.” I always seem to que up behind the lady who has managed to pick up the only pair of jeans in North America without a tag.
“Price check in Women’s Wear,” says the hapless clerk, to the department where everyone has just gone on break.
“Hey, I’ll just leave some cash on the counter, Ok, and you can keep the change,” I’d like to say, but of course, I seldom have that much cash. So I just try to close my eyes and imagine I am in a canoe on an ice-blue lake, miles from civilization. You know, like the self-help books say to do………
It never works.
The worst wait for me is always at the auto license bureau. Even if there are only a few folks ahead of me, I always worry that I have forgotten that one piece of paper that will require me to look like an idiot when I get up to the counter, and have to go back home to retrieve. It’s like that bad dream where you have forgotten to study for that big test, or are standing in the street in your underwear. It has only happened to me once (no, NOT standing in the street in my underwear….forgetting my paperwork!) but that is enough to raise the stress level every time I have to renew the tags. I bet the people at those offices keep a secret tally in the break room, maybe even getting bonuses for every moron whom they get to send away with the words “I’m sorry, sir, you have last year’s personal property tax receipt,” right before they break out into uncontrollable laughter.
So maybe that’s not the worst wait you can think of. Fretting out a surgery for a loved one or bad news from the accountant can be a lot more troublesome. But any way you skin it, waiting is just no fun
Maybe I’ll bide my time from now on, waiting for the promise of a new day.
Now that sounds like something worth waiting for.


Patry Francis said...

Great waitress, but not such a good wait-er. Sorry Tom, I couldn't resist. But truly, sometimes waiting is the hardest thing. I do okay with lines or traffic, but anything that carries anxiety, like waiting for my teenage son to come home at night when the snow is falling and the roads icy? That's when angst overcomes patience.

tom said...

Yes, patry, that is why I broke down and got my 14 year old a cell phone...I wish I had that option when my boys were out all hours and God knows where..of course they probably wouldn't have answered....

rdl said...

"So I just try to close my eyes and imagine I am in a canoe on an ice-blue lake, miles from civilization. You know, like the self-help books say to do………
It never works."
Same here, it never works for me too.