It is said (by whom? To whom are such clichés attributable? Is there any way to know, really?) that patience is a virtue. True, in our fast-paced world, it’s hard to just stand still and WAIT for something, no matter how desired that something may be. Of course you always have the option of throwing in the towel (another unattributable cliché) and choosing NOT to wait – you have other more essential things to do, for instance, or you can come back at another time. But sometimes you just have to WAIT.
Today offered a prime example of my waiting when I probably should have left and come back, although, in retrospect, there was nothing pressing in my life – work was going to be there when I got back, and I had to wait to pick up a prescription at CVS anyway. On my way into the optician’s office to get one of the nose pads on my glasses re-attached, I thought I saw the optician Ella pass me on the sidewalk on her way out. She might be going to grab a bite, I thought. I’ll just sit here in the waiting room and wait until she comes back. Half hour went by and Ella did not return. A couple of ladies came in, but they did not appear to be looking for Ella; instead they walked toward the back, where a dentist and an audiologist had their offices. At that point I thought it might be a good idea to go out to my car, where I could use this free time to sync up my new cell phone to my car’s Bluetooth. I had a clear view from my car of the front door to the office so I would see Ella as she was approaching. After a few minutes, there came Ella. I finished setting up the Bluetooth, locked my car and went back into the waiting room. THERE WAS A LITTLE OLD WHITE-HAIRED WOMAN IN A GREEN SWEATER SITTING IN ELLA’S OFFICE!!! GAH!! How did that happen? Where did she come from? I was certain there had been no one in the waiting room when I went out to my car.
Well, the woman in the green sweater and Ella proceeded to chit-chat and try on glasses and get measured and WHATEVER for another 45 minutes. By now I’ve been waiting there for an hour and fifteen minutes. A large gentleman in sunglasses with a heavy accent (Spanish? Middle Eastern? It was impossible to tell) came into the waiting room and engaged me in conversation (certainly not at my invitation) about topics from politics (Trump is “not very educated”) to the sign for Ella’s optician business being so hidden that, even though he lived nearby and walked past her office nearly every day, he had never seen it (I agreed that the same had happen to me the first time I came). I also told him my tale of waiting for Ella, which prompted him to ask me a bunch of rhetorical questions (at least I don’t THINK he expected an answer) about “What is the hurry, really? Why not wait? Where else do we have to go?” that actually made me think about the nature of patience and how, sometimes, maybe just slowing down and sitting a while is not such a bad thing.
I could have gotten upset – and, to be frank, I WAS a little upset. When it became apparent that the woman in the green sweater was going to be a while, Ella could have interrupted her meeting with her to briefly check to see if there was something she could help me with quickly – which, ultimately, she could have: all I had to do was show her the broken nose pad and leave the glasses with her, and I would come pick them up later, which is what I ended up doing. If I were a different sort of person (i.e., a PUSHY sort of person – believe me, there are plenty of those in the world and they make me a little angry; like, WAIT YOUR TURN, DAMN IT. What makes you think you’re more special than I am?), I might have tapped on the glass divider window that separated the waiting room from Ella’s office and said, “Excuse me, can I just leave these with you?” (In retrospect, I probably should have, but then I wouldn’t have a blog post, would I?)
But the sunglasses man’s words had touched me, somehow. What WAS my hurry? Where else did I have to be? I could wait. It was actually nice of Ella that she DIDN’T interrupt her meeting with the woman in the green sweater. That would have made the woman in the green sweater feel like she wasn’t a valued client (although she clearly hadn’t been waiting for Ella as long as I had, having just come into the waiting room right before I went out).
Fortunately, the advent of cell phones has provided diversions while you’re waiting. One thing I do is play a little game called Neko Atsume (which I understand means “kitty collector” in Japanese – see “More Whining About Time, 1/20/16), where I set out food and goodies – things to sleep on and play with – for a bunch of adorable animated cats with names like Smokey and Spot, but there’s also “specialty cats” like Joe DiMeowgio (who wears a little baseball shirt and only shows up when the baseball is out in the virtual
“yard” where the kitties hang out) and Mr. Meowgi (with his little samurai sword). [An aside: Periodically the makers of this game add a few new goodies and kitties. My kid – who originally introduced me to this game while we were waiting in the DMV for her to get her license renewed – has told me that new cats have arrived in HER yard and there are new goodies to buy but that was fully three days ago and I have thus far not seen a single new kittie or goodie. I feel gypped.]
My current go-to diversion when standing on interminable lines or growing roots in an uncomfortable waiting room chair is Spider Solitaire. I am wimpy and play at the simplest level but even then I don’t win every time. I love to wave my finger when the completed ace-to-king row magically folds itself up and flies to the top of the screen. If I could figure out how to add the Words With Friends app to my phone, I would also play that during forced down-time. Goodness knows I spend enough time playing it on my home computer while I’m waiting for responses to work emails and phone calls. Or maybe just read a book, or catch up on the gossip magazines. Don’t sweat the wait – enjoy the peace and quiet!
I generally pride myself on being a patient person, but is that just a symptom of a lack of assertiveness (of which I am somewhat guilty, I confess)? In the end, though, I’d rather be polite and patient than pushy and in a rush. It’s just more in keeping with my temperament and personality. And really, what’s the hurry? If I miss out, it wasn’t meant to be in the first place. There’s usually enough to go around. Isn’t there another cliché that goes, “Good things come to those who wait”?