Nancy Roman

Just You Wait

I am not the bravest soul. (See “Fraidy Cat“). I am afraid of downhill skiing, motorcycles, clowns, and – I confess – sushi.

But I summoned up my courage on Monday, and went to the Day-After-Christmas Sales.

The scariest part of D-A-C shopping is the parking lot. I don’t mind parking far away, but just entering the lot is terrifying. Cars pulling in, pulling out, parking so close and crooked that side-view mirrors flinch. And of course the shoppers themselves are trotting between the parked cars with packages and kids swinging in the freezing breeze.

But I had gifts to return. (Not the Alpha Muff Power Combo–I’m keeping that.) But a couple of old-ladyish sweaters. So I pulled into the place with all the scary clown cars trying to kill me, and parked, and left my precious vehicle to fend for itself.

The stores had put out every bit of merchandise from the stockroom, just to make sure you could sort of see everything they had ever ordered in retail history. Only In the tiniest of sizes of course. Except for the boots – boots they had in size eleventeen. Of course, you couldn’t really pull a  hanger from the rack to see anything.

And you couldn’t really form a line at the register. You just had to form a ‘cluster’.

Most people dread waiting.

But not me.  I love waiting in line. (or clusters.)

In line at the supermarket, I can read trashy tabloids. I can get consumer opinions on what the other guy is buying (“Is that the best brand of blackberry jam?  The seediest?”). I can make faces at little kids fidgeting in carts.

In line at the After-Christmas Exchange Free-For-All, I learned about pregnant teenage daughters, and that women who wear size fourteen have husbands who think they are a size ten (which is really sweet), and  that my husband isn’t the only guy who buys dopey gifts (which is really reassuring).

I love waiting in general.

I don’t even mind traffic jams. I sing to the radio, or make up stories which I may even write down someday. Or I just chill. I appreciate an enforced slow-down. (Except of course when I need a bathroom. Like when I was caught in the unmoving miles at the end of a weekend on the Cape. (To my friend, Chris, who was with me in the car: I apologize. And I also apologize to all the other vehicles who had the bad fortune to be stuck on the same road as me. I’m sorry for the way I treated you. It may have been thirty-seven years ago, but I am sure you remember me.)

The most stressed-out waiting seems to happen at airports. People just freak when the plane is late. What’s up with that? Planes are always late.  And it’s a wonderful thing.

I love long delays. I’ve had to spend the night at the airport hotel where the World Wrestlers (who say they are ‘entertainers’) were staying. I once read two long novels in one uncomfortable chair. I’ve purchased overpriced jewelry in the airport store. Once I missed the plane because the bus-like thing that takes you to the midfield terminal broke down on the runway. With me in it. But I ended up having dinner with a handsome man (don’t worry – that was back when I was single.)

So stop rushing.  Take a breath. Read something trivial. Or something deep. Eat chocolate. Don’t worry about being late. It’s not your fault.  You are relieved of all responsibility.  You have permission to do nothing. It’s not your fault. The flight was delayed.

Waiting frees your mind.

I’ve already decided my perfect retirement hobby.  The sport when you appear to be doing something, but where you are really doing nothing. But waiting.



  1. “swinging in the freezing breeze” – You always make me smile!
    Thanks for permission to enjoy the wait and being late.


  2. RVingGirl

    Excellent post again Nancy!
    I don’t mind waiting usually except when I go to pick up one of my grandchildren from school. The “Car Line” drives me batty….mostly because the young mothers are dumb and totally inconsiderate….but that’s a story for another blog post one day.
    Happy waiting to you……


  3. Old lady sweaters? Someone actually bought you an old lady sweater? Coal for them next year! My ex once bought me some clothes in a size 12 (I am a 6). That may be part of why he is my ex. As for waiting, I am only patient at Starbucks where I am fascinated at the diversity of people who are willing to pay $5 for coffee. You do make the best of any situation. I have noticed that trend in your blogs and your comments. You will take a rant and point out the positives. Can you bottle and sell that?


  4. Chris

    I don’t remember you needing a bathroom. I just remember all the ashes from the forest fire landing on the hood of the car and floating into the front seats so that we were considering ditching the vehicle and running for our lives. Girls stuck in a car together can catch up on chatting. The only time I’ve seen you panic was in the tunnel under Baltimore at rush hour in that horribly hot August we took our “colonial” vacation. The exhaust fumes almost knocked us out.


    • I think the forest fire day might be the same day. I remember not feeling well (ended up with the flu) and having to pee very badly. I remember trying to gently coax you (by screaming) to drive in the breakdown lane.


      • Oh, and when we finally crossed the bridge and pulled into McDonalds, there was a long line of women (like me) waiting to use the ladies’ room. I couldn’t bear it. I ran into the men’s room… and then dozens of bladden-swollen girls came busting in too…


        • …and WHY is there NEVER a line for the men’s room? More convenient anatomy, for sure.


      • Chris

        I thought YOU were driving the day of the forest fire. But now you mention it, I kind of remember the men’s room appropriation.


  5. We should put your recommendations on highway billboards — it would reduce tensions significantly during rush hour!

    Thanks for the smile.


  6. What an optimistic and upbeat view of the world you have. Bah!

    No really, I’m going to try to cultivate this attitude, instead of having to tie my fingers to the steering wheel so I don’t flip off the other driver (who always turns out to be a local pastor) when I’m stuck in traffic.


  7. Sometimes I don’t mind waiting either because, as you nicely put it, it frees your mind. But I will do almost anything NOT to do any Day After Christmas shopping or After Christmas exchange every again—for a few years now. The waiting might be serene but the pushing, shoving, screaming babies, free-for-all are too nerve racking. I’d rather go to the dentist.

    More power to you though and Happy New Year.


    • I haven’t done day-after-Christmas shopping in more than ten years, but I’ve been really pressed for time, so I took advantage of the day off. It wasn’t too bad. I’m terrified of the dentist.


  8. I expect to wait sometimes, like the airport but I avoid long lines at all cost. Instead of enjoying the people, I become annoyed. I need to refocus, take a deep breath and forget the word ‘idiot’.


  9. I’m with you on fishing – it’s the ideal sport, whether you catch fish or not.


  10. I was never good at waiting as a young woman but with age I have gotten better. Except if I need a bathroom—I am not a nice wait-er then.


  11. I agree, waiting is wonderful and opens you to many new people and experiences.


  12. It’s actually good to stop and take a breath some times because when you see people flip out over little nonsense things, you realize how stupid they look. Of course, I look stupid multiple times a day because I find myself flipping out over little nonsense things.


  13. Chris

    I apologize Nancy if I know a lot of your ‘secrets’ but hey everyone – she used to work at Penney’s every Christmas – because – “It Was Fun”


  14. You would LOVE the line at our post office. I happen to have been a letter carrier (before I took up fishing) and we would be so embarrassed at the lines in the front counter. We’d rail at the boss for not assigning enough employees up there. “We’re not here to talk about that,” he said. “This is a SERVICE talk.”

    “BUT THOSE ARE OUR CUSTOMERS OUT THERE!” we’d scream back. We did a lot of yelling at the boss, which you can do in a union shop. The boss was unruffled.

    “They aren’t our customers,” he said, “until they buy something.”


  15. Deborah the Closet Monster

    Reading this got me thinking. I love my driving time. For 1.5-2 hours daily, I have enforced “just be” time. So if I love it so much, why do I hage at the stop lights?! Thanks for getting me thinking about this, the first step toward doing it differently. 🙂


  16. I often thought I could make some money, waiting in line for people. They could go and do whatever and I would wait and when it was their turn, I’d call them and they would take over (after a suitable payment to me).


  17. It’s so true. There’s something about being forced to wait..that allows my mind to wander, It never quite occurred to me before – but I suppose? – I like waiting too!!! Wishing you a happy and creative new year…:-)!


  18. When an aggressive driver, who I’ve observed darting in and out of lanes and cars with about 2″ to spare, via my rear-view mirror, travelling at about 90 MPH, I figure #1) either he really has an emergency (his wife is in the back seat having a baby, or someone really needs to get to the hospital), in which case I want to move out of his way; #2) he’s an aggressive, type A person who’s not gonna slow down, even if it means having an accident, also in which case I want to move out of his way; #3) he’s a reckless driver, who doesn’t mind endangering other people, and in that case, I really want to move over and let him take his accident elsewhere. I, too, don’t mind waiting (unless I have an emergency). There are so many things to observe/occupy oneself with while waiting. Such a good post, thanks for sharing it with us!


    • It’s especially satisfying, as a result of slowing down/waiting, when passing said car, which has been pulled over by a state trooper …. I know, I know, that’s now very enlightened of me, but still . . .


  19. It depends on who I am with when I’m waiting. I’m okay when I’m by myself. But if I entertain my husband and/or daughter, then I start getting a little impatient.



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