Right Now

Recently, I was in line at a drive-up ATM, behind a man who was obviously conducting several banking transactions.  He was definitely taking longer than usual and another car pulled up behind me as I waited.  When I glanced in my rear-view mirror, I could see the woman behind me shaking her head and getting more and more agitated.  Suddenly, she pulled out of line and roared across the parking lot to the walk-up ATM.  Ignoring several dozen empty parking spots, she parked in the driving lane right in front of the bank, jumped out and ran up the the ATM.  I guess she was in a hurry to do her banking.

When did we begin to believe that having to wait, even for a few minutes, was such a bad thing?  When did it become a huge imposition to have to actually stop for a red light, or wait in traffic for a few seconds while the car in front of us tries to make a left-turn?  When did we begin to think that we deserve everything we want right this very second, and heaven help anyone who happens to get in our way?

I know there are times when we all get impatient.  When I’m in line at the grocery store and the person in front of me hands the checkout clerk a thick wad of coupons, and then argues vehemently and at great length when the clerk scans them and declares that most of them are expired, I feel impatient.  I do believe that people who behave that way are being inconsiderate to the rest of us.  But waiting in line is still a part of the personal shopping experience, and it’s really not that bad.  (There’s a reason the grocery stores display the tabloids by the check out counters:  it gives us something to read while we wait.)

For me, it helps to put things into perspective, and remember that the world does not revolve around me and wasn’t designed to enable me to rush forward at top speed all day long.  Year ago, my family was driving to Chicago to visit my parents.  We’d been zipping right along for most of the trip, when suddenly the highway traffic came to a complete halt.  We sat for forty-five minutes without moving an inch, for no reason we could see.  Both my husband and I complained bitterly, especially after our young son told us that he was going to need a bathroom break very soon.  We were all feeling well and truly sorry for ourselves, and angry that the authorities hadn’t managed to get the traffic moving yet.

Then we noticed the Med-Vac helicopters flying overhead and realized that there must have been a really bad accident ahead.  Obviously several people were hurt so badly that needed to be flown to the nearest hospital.  And just like that, our anger and indignation about sitting on the highway for so long disappeared.  Getting to Chicago “on time” didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

IMG_0136I believe we are quickly becoming a society of people who operate on the false assumption that immediate gratification is something we are entitled to.  We aren’t.  Sometimes we do have to wait in a slow line, and sometimes we are going to have our busy schedule interrupted by other people and things we can’t control.  When that happens, we can choose to fly into a self-centered rage, or we can take a few deep breaths and realize that sometimes, these things just happen.  And that learning to wait patiently now and then isn’t really such a bad thing.

115 thoughts on “Right Now

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on patience Ann. They are spot on❣️ We all need to get a bigger perspective on life and educate our children to learn the practice of being present with whatever is happening. i.e. Patience

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    • I know! I’m not nearly as patient as I want to be, but I do work on it. And I agree that patience is something we need to teach our children, before it becomes a lost art. Thanks for the comment, Val!

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  2. I have a lot of trouble relaxing and being patient(I know you’re shocked) but I’m really trying to be more patient but it’s often hard. Before I go crazy, I imagine someone videoing me in a rage and the video going viral…

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    • LOL! Yes, that would do it! But seriously, it probably does help to stop and think how we look to others when we get all agitated over the little things. For me, it helps when I’m around younger people and realize that I need to model the kind of behavior I want to teach. That always pulls me up short!

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  3. This is a great post. I agree with you 100 % we want everything to happens instantaneously. I worked in customer services for over 15 years so I try to be patient but it can be hard sometimes. I def try to be understanding.

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  4. Beautiful post! Though I admit, I can be impatient sometimes. Your trip to Chicago reminded me a similar situation where I have been stuck in traffic, to see a red helicopter pick up someone and hearing about the accident later in the news. Suddenly, everything got a different perspective, as you say.

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    • Yes, that one did it for me! We later heard on the news that it was a multi-car accident, and at least two people died and five were air-lifted to the hospital. I try to think about that whenever traffic is bad, because it does help put it into perspective. Thanks, Svet!

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  5. We are unnecessarily busy alot of times rushing about. Yet to what end? Does it make our lives more complete🤔
    Great thought provoking post😊

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  6. My wife and I with full consideration of our advanced age 76 and 74 normally take two days to travel from Vancouver Island to the Interior of BC where we live. Two weeks ago coming from a visit of our son, daughter-in-law, and latest granddaughter we got lucky to catch an early ferry, found the freeway around Vancouver almost deserted, made so much progress on the Trans Canada Highway that I said to my wife that we could do the entire trip in one day. At noon we had covered half of the entire distance, and stopped for lunch in Chilliwack. Like in your trip to Chicago, cruising along at 120 km/h on the superhighway over a mountain pass, the entire traffic first slowed down, then came to a complete stop. Then we started moving ever so slowly and it looked like the road authorities had opened one lane. Like in your case there had been a serious accident with a truck lying across the highway and its cargo spilled all over the place. To make a long story short. Our patience was also taxed to the limit. Gone was my dream of being home one day early. Yet in hindsight it was a good thing. It was foolish on my part to attempt the hurried trip when I was still feeling the effects of my radiation treatment in January. It was definitely a hint from above to get the rest in a motel which I still needed so badly. Sorry for being so long-winded, Ann. But your message sparked me to write down this story.

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    • Never apologize for the length of your comments, Peter! They are always appreciated and always contribute to the conversation. I’m sorry about the accident, but glad that you realized you had to take a break. Radiation does take a toll on people’s bodies, and there is no sense in pushing it. Sometimes we do need a little sign, don’t we? Hope your recovery is speedy!

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  7. I try to be that bright spot during a long wait. I had the cashier at the grocery thank me for my patience and good humor this afternoon. The lines were very long and people were being rude and taking it out on her – I let her know that I thought she was working at a fast clip and was very efficient and pleasant. It is marvelous what a few words of kindness can do to lift spirits. The crabpot behind me even cracked a smile and I think the entire line lightened up!

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    • That was so nice of you to take the time to let the clerk know you appreciated her work! So many people take it out on the first available target…the waiter if their food is late, the clerk if the line is long, etc…..and those people rarely have anything to do with it at all. And I bet your kind words meant more to her than you’ll ever know. Good for you!!!

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  8. Thank you for sharing this today. Waiting is not something that needs to be avoided at all cost. There are many times when I am waiting in line and I end up having a pleasant conversation with a stranger. I don’t want to rush through everything these days. I appreciate this post very much. ~ Blessings, KK

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    • That’s true, sometimes reading the tabloids (or at least just scanning the covers) isn’t the only thing that happens when we wait in lines. Sometimes we meet fun and interesting people too, and chatting with them passes the time even more quickly. You are so right, we don’t need to rush… Thanks for the comment!

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  9. Pingback: “Right Now” ~ Muddling Through My Middle Age (Shared by KK) – We Are The Reminder

  10. I ran into our local supermarket the other day to pick up a few things we – at the last minute – realized we needed for a dinner party that was starting in just about a half an hour. I grabbed my items and got into what I thought was the shortest line. Then I realized that the older couple in front of me was struggling with their PIN and it kept being rejected. Over and over again. I started to get agitated, but then tried to help (“you have to hit enter after you put in your numbers”), and then, when that advice was ignored, I just kept taking a series of deep breaths. Finally (after hitting enter) it worked and they were on their way. The poor clerk, who was also very frustrated, kept apologizing to me. I told her not to worry about it, that I will probably be there one of these days. I have found that the time we are made to wait really isn’t as long as we may feel it is at the time. I would much rather find my inner zen than raise my blood pressure unnecessarily.

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    • You handled that so well! I’m sure it was frustrating, but offering to help made so much more sense than just getting angry. It’s too bad they didn’t take your advice, but I’m glad you were able to stay calm and put it into perspective. And I’m sure the clerk really appreciated your attitude. I also believe I’ll be one of those old people who doesn’t know how to work the machines some day…if I’m not already there!

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      • I think the time I spent care-taking my parents taught me to be more patient (at least with older people… younger ones, maybe not so much). The poor woman was obviously very embarrassed and nervous. She probably didn’t hear me suggest hitting the enter key. I’m no saint… not going to my angry place helps me in the long run.

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  11. Do you think the instant-gratification of our social media habits and thus dopamine-reward addictions have anything to do with it? I do! We want everything Now because then we want the next thing ASAP… and so it goes…

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    • I absolutely do! In my draft of this post, I even blamed technology’s ability to give us what we want instantly..and social media is a big part of that, but then cut that out in the interest of keeping my word count down. It’s a good thing in many ways, but one of the biggest problems with our increasing reliance on technology and social media is that in reinforces our belief that we’re supposed to have instant gratification. That just doesn’t work in the real world.

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  12. Well said Ann. We’re all prone to impatience but sometimes it pays to take a step back. Often that’s when we realise too that we really don’t need to rush so much.

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  13. Every year when I head home to MN one of my first stops is the local grocery. Not for the wonderful prices but because there is a cashier that has worked there for years that is always happy to see me. Punky – is like family to many in that small community, friendly, and always asks how parents etc are doing. Funny thing is many times people from the “cities” are standing in the line behind me or another local and I can feel and see these people are frustrated and in a hurry. Punky never cares- she keeps doing what she does best being friendly to her loyal & frustrated customers. Shopping there is an enjoyable experience because of the interaction, when people take their time and show keep kindnesses it makes the whole world better. The lesson is to the frustrated-slow down, take notice, be present with fellow humans! Yes, Ann, this is a message that was needed. Thanks again for taking this message public.❤️

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    • Thank you! Punky sounds as if she has her priorities straight for sure. Connecting with others is so much more important than just hurrying through our lives. And people like Punky are the ones who keep the sense of community going. Thanks for sharing that story!

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    • I agree! And there are times when I know I need to take a chill pill myself. Not having one, I just try to breathe deeply and remind myself to calm down. The world will not end just because I have to wait a bit!

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  14. I wonder what that woman would do if she needed a longer transaction than usual and people behind her got restless? I bet she’d be angry then too! Some people see only their own needs without recognising others’ right to have needs too. I think i’m a reasonably patient at waiting but I do find it irritating when a request for payment takes the person in front of me completely by surprise, and only then do they start wondering where their wallet is!

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    • Exactly! That man was taking a little longer than usual at the ATM, but maybe this was the only time he could do his banking. And really, that’s what the ATMs are there for and there’s no rule about how long we are allowed to take. That woman needed to put herself in the other person’s shoes, but judging from the way she parked in a driving lane, I don’t think recognizing other people’s rights is something she does on a regular basis!

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  15. Great post (as always). I think part of the impatience is due to technology. When we want information, we flick on our phones or laptops and get it instantly. Years ago, if we were listening to music in our cars on a cassette (remember those little tapes?), we had to fast forward to the song we wanted to hear. Now we tap and hear any song we want right away. It goes on and on. So, I think when we’re stuck dealing with other human beings who can’t function as quickly as a computer, we get REALLY impatient. We’re not in sync with each other. Also–great point about the helicopter. I’ve been in situations like that as well and have had the same grateful reaction.
    Happy Mother’s Day!

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  16. I so try to have patience. Usually we get angry and in a hurry because we ourselves didn’t allow enough time for the wait. Not fair to take it put on others. And it really helps nothing! Thanks for a great reminder to keep things in perspective. Especially the traffic jam.

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    • You hit the nail on the head, Jodi! It is not other people’s duty to “get out of our way” just because we’re running late. Being on time is our responsibility, not anyone else’s. And there are other times when someone else’s needs matter so much more than ours, as my experience on the highway reminded me.
      Hope you’re having a great mother’s day Jodi!

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  17. So true – it’s hard to be patient all the time. You are right that we have to remember that we are not the center of everything. And as we get older, there is a lot more waiting to do. Seniors spend large portions of their days waiting in line for one thing or another. I see that with my parents. Great post!

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    • That’s a good point I hadn’t even thought of. The older we get, the more we do have to wait. Which means we’d better get used to it now, while we can. Thanks for the comment!

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  18. All in all, people just need to be more considerate and think of others. I have more patience as I age. My yoga teacher gave us an exercise do to in the grocery line. It is Tadasana, which is a way to improve balance and elongate the spine. No one will know you are doing it and it will make you feel relaxed enough that you won’t mind waiting.

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    • I agree! We do need to be more considerate of others and remember that the world does not revolve around us. And I think your yoga teacher is very wise to give you an exercise to do in line. Waiting is much more pleasant when we can think of something to do. I know people who listen to audio books in their cars, so that when they are stuck in heavy traffic, they are enjoying a story and not just sitting there, getting annoyed.

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  19. Thanks for sharing, such a timely reminder that sometimes we need to take a step back and reprioritise our thoughts. Not everything happens as quickly as we want it to (that’s life!) and we are not entitled to having the world beat to the same rhythm as our drum.

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    • Thank you! I think we all need a reminder now and then that the whole world does not beat to our rhythm…I know I do! It’s so easy to get in a rush and get impatient with those who slow us down. But that’s really counter productive, not only in our relationships, but in our personal life as well.

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  20. Your Med-Evac story is spot on and a sharp reminder of what’s most important.
    My warning call is when I get impatient with someone writing out a check in the grocery line. Remember when that was the norm? ***breathe!***

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    • Oh yes, I remember well when that was the norm! And how on more than one occasion I was embarrassed to get to the front of the check out line and realize I had left my check book at home. It never occurred to me to pay with a credit card…they just put my groceries in their walk in fridge while I ran home to get it! (Which is a very good thing to remember when I’m in line behind someone slowly and carefully writing a check for their purchase….)

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  21. I like this post and I think it’s a great follow-up to your “A Day of Rest” post. Learning to relax instead of always being in a hurry. I agree with Liz H that the Med-Vac is a perfect example of why we’re better off not getting upset about things we can’t control, especially things that are more important than our own convenience. Unfortunately, there’s almost always somebody having a worse day than us.

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    • That’s so true, Des! And it helps to remember when I’m in a hurry, or things simply aren’t going my way, that maybe someone else has a more pressing need than mine and that is what is being addressed while I wait. As you say, it’s best not to allow ourselves to get upset at the things we can’t control.

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  22. This is so true, Ann. When I find myself in a long line or a delay, I try (operative word “try”) to take a few breaths and then think about what I can learn or observe. I try to smile, too, because, miraculously, even a fake smile starts to feel good and then suddenly become genuine. It’s fun to think about what’s so darn important that we all want to rush off to. Lunch with the Pope? Scuba-diving lessons? A chocolate fountain?

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    • Ha! I like the way you think! And I agree that sometimes we can control our emotions by acting the way we want to feel until we actually do feel that way. Too often, we let ourselves get in a “snit” and then everything that happens to us justifies our bad mood. And who benefits then?
      PS: If I ever did see a chocolate fountain, I admit that I would hurry right on over to it…..

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  23. The worst are the people who ride your bumper at 6:30 in the morning on a Sunday. Where are they rushing off to at that hour? If they need to get somewhere on time they should leave earlier. I often wonder why people are in such a rush today. To what, get home and sit on the couch? As usual, great post Ann and right on target.

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  24. It is a bit of an instant gratification society. Often folks have no patience, but I do have to ask myself, is there a valid reason? The last time I was antsy in a grocery line was when I had a vehicle full of people in the parking lot waiting for me; I felt I was on their time as well as my own. I suspect the daily routine of some folks, with regimented time slots making a daily planner look like War and Peace grinds them into a pattern that makes ’em want things done ASAP.

    That’s one reason I enjoy retirement so much. It really cuts back on the time pressure.

    On the other hand, some folks are just naturally jerks.

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    • Sadly, I agree with you on that last remark! I think there have always been a certain number of jerks in the world, and always will be. But for the rest of us, yes, it’s not just the desire for instant gratification, but it’s also the hectic schedule that so many people keep that causes them to be chronically impatient. Sometimes those schedules can’t be helped, but other times I think we just need to learn to cut out the unnecessary stuff from our schedules. We may not do quite as much, but what we do, we will do well.

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  25. We seem to see this everywhere now, the need for instant everything. I do worry about the children and “lessons learned” from watching the adults around and among them all day, noses in our phones, or the computer. What bothers me most is when I see this attitude in traffic. I feel a sense of danger I never felt before when I drive. It’s really OK to stop and smell the roses, and then again. 🙂

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    • I agree! As adults, we need to model the behavior we want to see in our children, which means putting our stupid phones down now and then. Especially when we’re driving! I think the danger you feel is very real. So many people are texting when they are driving, and so many people are ignoring red lights and not waiting their turn and driving too fast. They are oblivious to the people in the cars around them, and the fact that their behavior could seriously hurt or even kill someone!

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  26. Agreed. Here’s a quick story. You know how people jump up as soon as the plane lands? Well, this lady was in the middle seat, and that’s what she did. I didn’t budge. So, she says, “Excuse me. I have to get my luggage and get off the plane.” To which I replied, “As I imagine we all do.” She was quite offended, but I let her go stand in the aisle like the rest of the passengers, who apparently had to get their bags and get off the plane ;-/

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    • I love your response! Because yes, getting off the plane is another area where too many people have abandoned manners. There’s no need to bounce right up and block aisle (and nearly take out three people when you remove your overhead luggage in a tiny crowded aisle. No one’s getting off the plane until the door is opened, and then the usual procedure is to “deplane” one aisle at a time, starting from the front…..

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  27. Everything you said is something we all experience constantly. People are in a hurry and they don’t care how rude they are in the process. It’s as though driving laws don’t exist any more and common courtesy is simply a thing of the past. One of my pet peeves is waiting in line to check out and the person in front of me is on their cell phone. They don’t even bother to communicate with the cashier or anyone for the entire time that they are checking out. And the sad part with all of this? The children are witnessing their parents’ rudeness and they are acting the same way. It’s very sad.

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    • I agree about the cell phone use in lines, or even in public. It’s so annoying to see someone walking around a store, talking loudly into their cell phones, and completely ignoring the fact that the rest of us have to listen to them. It’s as if they don’t even see the people around them. And I agree that children are learning, all too often, that this kind of behavior is perfectly okay. It is sad…. Thanks for commenting!

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  28. I think there are so many factors that come into play here. One, many people do want and expect instant gratification and have a strong sense of entitlement about themselves that makes them unaware of others’ needs around them. Two, poor time management skills due to wasting time scrolling through social media and watching TV and then realizing you suddenly have somewhere to be and/or something to do STAT. Three, just way too much to do, plain and simple. I feel this. Working full-time while caring for a home and family is time-consuming and leaves too little time for chores, errands, etc. Which is all the more reason to master time-management and learn to limit social media and television watching. I love days off during the middle of the week on occasion because they remind me of how much happier I was when I worked part-time. I was definitely not in as much of a rush then.

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    • I agree with all three of these points, Kim. We are being conditioned to expect instant gratification, and to believe that everything revolves around us and our own, personal needs. Pus, most people do have busier schedules than ever before, and our addition to social media and TV does take up far too much of our time, leaving even less to do our necessities. Add it all up, and you have a society of impatient people, don’t you? I guess all we can do is recognize the problem and do our best not to contribute to it. Thanks for the comment, Kim!

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  29. well said my friend-waiting is not passive, as we think-and often has its’ benefits-some we may not know about. I have been teaching to how to wait already, for it will no doubt come in handy. Thank you for your insights. love Michele

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    • I’m glad you’re teaching your students to wait, as it is something that we all need to learn. And as you say, it doesn’t need to be a passive activity at all. Thanks, Michele!

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  30. Thank you for this post. This, in turn, is something I needed to hear. In fact it made me blush a bit.

    The other day I kind of was the woman in the car chasing off to the other ATM, so to say. I stood in line in a bank that had about 8 ATMs and behind each and every one there was a long line, just to highlight how busy it was.

    Of course my line moved the slowest and when I finally only had one guy ahead of me he took forever with his transaction, tried out several cards, had apparently forgotten his PIN, tried another one, and so on, until he finally got his money… and then started COUNTING it, painstakingly slow, a huge pile, right in front of the ATM without moving an inch.

    I did lose it a bit then, I have to admit. Afterwards I did feel a bit ashamed of myself, mind you. In my defense I have to say that I was truly in a hurry. But you are certainly right. After all, we are social people and living in a bit city inherently entails waiting in line more often than not. We cannot expect to just get what we want, right away.

    Other than that, that guy was still totally inconsiderate. I’m getting all worked up just thinking about it again 🙂

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    • I’m glad this spoke to you! But I agree that the person in front of you at the ATM was being inconsiderate of the people behind him. When I’m at the ATM and I get my cash, I also want to count it. But first, I look to see if anyone is in line behind me, and if they are, I pull forward into a parking spot and then count it. I don’t expect people to wait while I do it! Ditto when I pay with cash at a check out line. I put my bills carefully in my wallet in ascending order, but I do that only after I step to the side and allow the cashier to wait on the person behind me. Consideration goes both ways, I think!

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  31. A poignant post for a busy day ahead.

    Knowing my intolerance for too much waiting, I have restructured my life to avoid putting myself in these situations. But one cannot account for everything – so next time I am caught in a queue, I will remember your road trip to Chicago, especially your paradigm shift when you realised that there was more happening that met the eye.

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    • Thank you for your kind words! And yes, I also try to schedule things so that I’m not waiting in lines if I don’t have to be. But when I do, I just remind myself that it’s not all about me, and that maybe I’m waiting while something more important is being taken care of. Plus, as some others have pointed out, there are things we can do while waiting to make it more pleasant, and even productive.

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  32. This is one reason I don’t like living in Florida. You don’t even have a half a second to put your foot on the gas when the light turns green before someone isn’t honking their horn for you to go! It’s incredibly obnoxious. People here are so very important, just ask them, they’ll tell you! They all have somewhere to be way faster than you!

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  33. There’s a reason why patience is called a virtue. 😉 Sadly too many have forgotten about it or just don’t care. Our checkout zones have candy which really doesn’t help to distract oneself of the slow moving line because I’m so busy NOT looking at them! 😂

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  34. Ann, I notice this too and find it concerning. It seems that folks are under stress and are in constant need for speed. This isn’t the case in other cultures. It is hard to see the cost of living this way if this is the only way you know. Thanks for an opportunity to reflect.

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    • That’s a good point, Ali! If we are all rushing (and certainly many of our children are being raised this way), then soon we will get to the point where this is all we know and we think it is normal. That can’t be a good thing!

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  35. Ann, interesting reflections of human nature and our increasing impatience. Alas it is so but for the most I take the chance to look up and around, see something unusual, notice changes in the nature, buildings. People watching is always interesting … I bet the guy doing his bankig was feeling the stress and tension of taking his time.

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    • I bet he was, too! And that woman driving off probably just stressed him even more. I like the way you take the time to look around you and notice things when you are waiting. It passes the time so much better than seething in impatient rage! I find myself waiting at airports a lot, and the people watching there is terrific!

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