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In our own backyard...Hurry up and wait

In our own backyard...Hurry up and wait One Monday night recently, my husband and I both arrived home around 6 p.m. I had stopped to pick up a rotisserie chicken on my way home, and I kept it warm while I put a carton of pre-made mashed potatoes ...

In our own backyard...Hurry up and wait

One Monday night recently, my husband and I both arrived home around 6 p.m. I had stopped to pick up a rotisserie chicken on my way home, and I kept it warm while I put a carton of pre-made mashed potatoes and one of those steamer bags of vegetables into the microwave. In exactly six minutes flat, we were having dinner. I could probably have made dinner from scratch in about 30 minutes - at half the cost and with probably half the sodium - but after all, we were both starved and I had work to do after dinner.

Another day, I carefully clipped a coupon out of the Sunday newspaper worth five cents a gallon off a tank of gas. I carried it around in my purse until I was low on gas, but as I drove into the station I realized that in order to cash in the coupon I would have to go into the convenience store, wait in line and pay in person. I was already running behind on my day's schedule, and I still had to make a trip over to the courthouse, so you can just about imagine what I did - I pulled in and paid by credit card out at the pump! For the sake of saving all of about a minute and a half, I sacrificed saving five cents a gallon off my gas.

Isn't that just the way we do things these days? We're all into "instant gratification," and we just can't stand to wait for things. Whatever happened to "the patience of Job?"

I use the ATM because it's quicker, so I have no idea anymore who the tellers are at my credit union. As soon as I go to a grocery or discount store, I immediately peer around to see if it has a self-checkout lane so I can save the time of waiting in a checkout line. (I haven't read the front covers of the Star and National Enquirer in months!)

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But when you really think about it, by wanting to get in and out faster in order to save time, we're cutting ourselves off from the sort of interpersonal connections that used be a part of who and what we are. And often, the things we sacrifice in the name of impatience are much bigger deals than a few cents off a gallon of gas.

Maybe you have a big report due at work the next day and don't want to spend a sleepless night thinking about it. What are you likely do? Stay late at work and finish it, right? That means you aren't home to have dinner with your family, and maybe you aren't even there to kiss your kids goodnight, either. Or maybe you find your marriage isn't panning out to be quite the Cinderella affair that you thought it was going to be. It might seem easier to walk away from it rather than waste any more valuable time trying to make it work. After all, you're not getting any younger or any better looking, right?

It's sad to think so many of us are in such a hurry that we don't stop to think what we're doing to ourselves. But every once in a while, if we're very lucky, we might get one of those wake-up calls that sets us back on the right track.

A couple of weekends ago our daughter Allison and her friend Wil came to visit us from Boston. On the night before they were scheduled to fly back, Wil ended up in the emergency room with muscle spasms in his back. We got there around 6:30, waited two hours for him to see the doctor, another hour and a half for an exam and diagnosis, and then another half hour at the pharmacy.

I knew he was in a lot of pain and my daughter was a little nervous, having never been in an emergency room before, so I figured I needed to be the steady one in the bunch.

As the hours wore on, we all grew antsy - and painfully aware we'd never had dinner. The hospital cafeteria was closed by then and the only vending machine in the lobby was out of order. I was also getting impatient with the staff, all of whom seemed pretty indifferent to how long we'd been there.

But in the midst of it all, a young man sitting next to me in the waiting room asked if I would mind turning up the sound on the television set so we could hear the Robert De Niro movie we were both half watching as we waited for our respective family members.

We got to chatting about the movie, the slippery streets outside and what brought us to the emergency room. I helped him with some of the words in the Scrabble game he was playing on his cell phone, and I learned that he and his girlfriend have four children and her mother came to live with them after they bought a 50-inch plasma TV!

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I found myself beginning to relax, despite all the time that we'd been waiting, and by the time Wil was released from the emergency room, I felt as though I'd gotten to know the young man next to me pretty well. As we walked away, he smiled at me said, "Hey, take 'er easy!"

When we got home, Allison and Wil thanked me for waiting all that time in the emergency room for them. I just smiled, conveniently forgetting about all of the times I've been too impatient to wait for the things that really count, and said, "Th

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