I’ve always thought of myself as a patient person.
But, the older I get, the more I realize that it’s just not so.
I like the idea of being patient. And, judging from comments that I receive from time to time, others seem to believe that I am patient. However, I think they are mistaking a diplomatic manner and a sense of outward calm for a patient inner nature.
I’m generally OK with standing in line, or sitting in traffic, or waiting my turn for something (although I have often wondered why it’s acceptable for a doctor to keep patients waiting in the reception area for a half hour past their appointment time, something I could never get away with in a law practice or corporate setting). I will admit to angling for the shortest line in the grocery store, but I generally take the wait in good humor as long as it’s clear that the wait isn’t caused by inefficiency or poor customer service. I guess the distinction with this sort of communal waiting is that it’s just that – communal. If there is a traffic jam, or a big crowd at the bank or grocery store, that’s just the way it is. I’ll resign myself to waiting my turn with the rest of the assembled masses – I certainly have no more right to quick service than anyone else does.
Reasonableness goes out the window when I am expecting something in the mail, however. I lose all touch with reality. We drop our girls off at summer camp in Pennsylvania on a Sunday, and on Tuesday afternoon I’m calling home to see if we’ve received any letters from them. College and law school applications, job interviews – same thing. All the while telling myself that I’m being silly if not downright obsessive-compulsive, I will calculate the earliest possible date that I could receive a response, and start checking the mailbox accordingly. Email has taken this to a whole new level. Snail mail is only delivered once a day, but if I’m waiting on an important email, I can wear out the “check mail” button.
So why am I ‘fessing up to my lack of patience? Better late than never, I guess. It’s taken me a long time to realize that I’m not nearly as patient as most people seem to think I am. With the benefit of that realization, I can hopefully save myself from the delusion that it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that the time-space continuum will be warped whenever I am expecting to receive an important communication.
Enough of that. Time to check my email….