Recently I’ve noticed that I’m becoming less patient. For example, I’ve been driving on Interstate-84 on a daily basis for decades. I’ve probably spent more time on that highway than I’ve spent in my own bed. But in the last year or so, when the traffic slows down to a 10 mph crawl — as it does faithfully every day of the week — the needle on my frustration meter spikes into the red zone. That never used to happen. I used to accept that stop-and-go traffic was a fact of life and a 20 mile journey is simply going to take at least an hour. Now, I immediately grit my teeth and mutter all kinds of unpleasant comments about my fellow commuters. (I realize the Bible says “love your neighbor as yourself,” but I’m pretty sure none of those motorists live on my street, so they ain’t my neighbor.)
Last month my wife and I were sitting in Bradley airport waiting for our flight to begin boarding. Then they made an announcement: “Attention passengers on flight 903 to Ft. Myers. We’re sorry, but two flight attendants called in sick. We’ve contacted replacements, who are now on their way to the airport. We will begin boarding as soon as they arrive, which will be in about 45 minutes. We cannot begin the boarding process without our full crew of flight attendants. Thank you.”
I jumped up and said, “Wait a minute. What did he say? We’re waiting for flight attendants? Not jet engine mechanics. Not the pilots. Not the guys who supply the tiny bags of stale peanuts. But flight attendants? We can’t board the plane without flight attendants?!”
I turned to my wife and said, “We can do that. It’s easy. You just stand inside the plane next to the cockpit door, smile a lot, and say, ‘Welcome aboard.’ Then you help people get their suitcases in the overhead bins, which I usually do anyway ‘cause I’m tall. If we load the plane now we’ll be all set to take off as soon as the real flight attendants get here. C’mon, hon, let’s go over there and volunteer to get this show on the road.”
My wife stared at me, then said, “What is your problem?”
I replied, “My problem is that I don’t want to waste the better part of the next hour sitting here waiting for a couple of airline employees to drive up I-91 from a hotel in Hartford.”
She smiled and said, “Please sit down and relax.”
That’s the problem. I can’t relax anymore. Whenever precious time is being so grossly wasted, I just can’t shrug my shoulders and say, “Oh well.”
Maybe my lack of patience is happening due to metaphysical and philosophical reasons. Maybe I’ve become aware that I am at an age where even if I live out my full life expectancy, there’s really not that many years left. This means, of course, that every wasted hour nowadays is not an insignificant percentage of my remaining time on this planet and it’s truly a cosmic injustice when an entire hour is not put to productive use. Or, on the other hand, maybe I’m just a grumpy geezer.
Our vacation in Florida was relaxing — not counting the waiting at the baggage carousel, the waiting in line at the rental car counter, and the waiting for a table at various restaurants each night.
From now on I’m going to do my best to avoid becoming impatient, especially when I have to wait. And I’m going to begin my quest for serenity right now. Oops, better make it tomorrow; today I have to go to the Motor Vehicle Department.