Just A Second
There’s an old joke: The definition of a split second is the interval between when the light turns green and when the guy behind you honks his horn.
We all know we’ve been there too….both as the honker and the honkee.
But I’d like to suggest – as part of my Year Of Kindness – that we give it a rest.
Let’s try to give everyone just a second or two more of our patience.
I’m not asking you to wait until you’ve missed the green light completely. Just give the poor schmuck a second.
And here are a few other moments of patience we should consider:
– When you ask your spouse to do something, and he says “Sure,” but remains on the couch. Give your loved one the benefit of the doubt. Maybe ten seconds’ worth. Or if you love the person, maybe even 20. He might get up and do as you asked, and you won’t have to yell obscenities at your alleged loved one.
– When the old person in the supermarket stops her cart in the middle of the aisle while she peruses the canned goods. Are you really in such a hurry that you have to move her cart aside while she picks up the green beans? Wait a second, please. If you move her cart, most likely she will apologize, when maybe it should have been you doing the apologizing.
– When you are out walking your dog, and he wants to go back to get another whiff of that tree. Go back and let him sniff. Sure he is supposed to be obedient. But you are walking the dog for his benefit; it should be fun for him too. Smelling pee is the dog equivalent of window shopping.
– When the sales clerks are talking to each other instead of waiting on you. Yes, that is rude as well as bad customer service. But I was recently waiting for the deli clerk to cut me some bologna, and she was chatting with her fellow bologna-cutting co-worker. It probably took her an extra twelve seconds to give me my cold cuts because she was chatting. But it occurred to me that I used to like to talk to my friends at work too. And I could spare the 12 seconds.
– When the guy ahead of you finishes pumping his gas, and then gets in his car, and you wait for what seems like a century for him to drive away so you can pull up. He’s putting his credit card away. You are not going to run out of gas while he buckles his seat belt. And on that subject, if you are ready to take out your paintball gun because you are waiting for my parking place, just remember that you are watching me pull out. I am not a good parker or un-parker, so I am being extra careful. I’m slow BECAUSE you are watching me.
– When your pre-schooler – or your oldest relative – is telling a story, and OMG, it is the most meandering route to the point ever. Please. You love this happy wanderer. Let him tell the story. Avoid suggesting he wrap it up. Try to limit the eye-rolls. (You can roll them if you are on the phone.)
– When your waiter disappears. Talk to your dinner companion. You can do it. Eating alone? Talk to the people near you. Don’t know what to say? I’ve started asking folks to name their favorite Beatles song. Interesting conversation guaranteed.
– When the sermon is long. Let your mind wander. The service will be over eventually.
– When the traffic is backed up. Let you mind wander. You’ll get there eventually.
– When you’ve already been in the waiting room for forty minutes, and you’re finally in the examining room and you’ve been shivering in your paper nightgown for another 15 minutes, and the doctor still hasn’t come in. Let your mind wander. Pretend that the guy in the next room has cancer and the doctor is holding his hand while he cries. There, now. Don’t you feel a lot better?
What I am saying is: Just Try. Just try to give people a few more seconds of your time.
I am not saying there is not a place for righteous indignation. For demanding change. For not tolerating things to remain as they are.
But that place is for when people – or their rights – are in jeopardy. Be impatient for justice.
Not when you wish little annoying stuff would move along more to your liking.
Let me put it this way:
Patience = Good: When your loved one, neighbor – or the poor schmuck behind
the counter- slightly inconviences you.
Patience = Bad: When people, nature – or the world – is suffering.