Have You Seen My Patience?

Lost: one set of patience. Was lightly worn, but last seen in ragged tatters. Characterized by long, relaxing sighs, and silent, knowing smiles. Responds to the name, “Daddy, are we there yet?”

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I am not sure when, exactly, I lost my patience. In my mind, I always thought I was a patient person. Some of this was deliberately crafted. I’d seen impatience in people and it turned me off. So I learned to relax and go with the flow. Waiting for a table in a restaurant wasn’t a big deal. Sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office meant time to catch up on some reading.

Today, my patience with restaurants is mostly intact. My patience for other things wore thin, then evaporated. Little things that the kids do can push me over the edge sometimes. “Did you hear what your mom just said?” I’ll say, snapping at them.

Having to call tech support tries my patience. Phone trees in general try my patience. But calling tech support really gets me. Having worked in IT for half my life, I generally know what I am doing. I don’t want to have to go through a laundry list of things first, I just want to get my problem solved.

I get impatient when other people are late. This didn’t use to bother me. But I get into my head. I think, I managed to get here on time. I managed to plan ahead. Why can’t everyone else? What makes it worse is when the late arrivers come without apologies for being late. Or with poor excuses.

Meetings that drag on wear at my patience. One of the worst thing ever to happen was for Outlook to default its meetings to one hour. I try to schedule my meetings for 15 minutes, and keep them to less than that if I can manage it. Web meetings and video conferences take a big bite out of my patience. They never start on time and rarely run smoothly.

I can’t drive around a parking lot looking for a space. I’d prefer to pick the farthest spot away and walk.

Waiting for my computer to boot up—all of 10 seconds or so—can make me impatient. The self checkout lines at grocery stores make me impatient.

Maybe it’s the age of instant gratification we live in. If I want music, I have it in seconds. A TV show? A few more seconds. I can buy something from Amazon in the morning, and have it in my hands later that same day. I can barely remember those days in the late 1990s when I’d order a book from Powell’s and it would take a week or more to arrive at my house.

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If you happen to find my patience, approach it carefully. It startles easily these days. But please return it quickly. I can’t wait much longer.

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