When Did Patience Go Out of Style?

Is it any wonder I sometimes find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place as an adult, when scenes like the following played out in childhood?

My mom would be in the process of trying to gently steer this only child onto the more courteous road of life where the world didn’t actually revolve around me. She would share words of wisdom and life lessons on the importance of patience, with beautiful sayings like “good things come to those who wait” and how taking turns just makes the world a better place.

Moments later, my Dad would stomp in, turn off the TV and announce that the grass needs mowing… now!

Maybe they should have checked first for the scheduling and timing of their life lessons, but despite the mixed messaging, in time I came to realize that they were both right.

In life, some things must be handled urgently while others can (…and should) be scheduled and addressed at a mutually convenient time. To recognize the difference is what I would consider to be the “wisdom” part of the equation.

But not everyone seems to have gotten the memo.

You can always tell the universal sign of someone whose blood pressure is steadily increasing when having to endure a wait. They keep checking their watch or their mobile device, tapping their toe, shifting their weight from their left to their right.

And then there is the sigh. The long, deep, “I’m too important for this” or “I’m too busy for this” sigh that makes me cringe. But it also makes me laugh given the lack of subtlety. We’ve all seen and heard it. I’ve often wondered to myself, “Hey Captain Obvious, do you think the line will move any faster if you sigh a little louder?”

Impatience can be seen at elevators, when someone pushes the button 50 times in the hope that it will come faster. (It doesn’t, by the way)

Impatience can be seen in traffic, when people refuse to wait their turn to merge or to yield… or worse yet, to roll through stop signs and red lights hoping that no one saw that. (We do, by the way)

We see impatience in stores. We see it in restaurants. We see it everywhere.

But is it just me or have some people today lost perspective in what qualifies as urgent? Why do people lose their mind when they have to wait for things?

Has the absence of human interaction during the pandemic reversed some of the steps forward we made in civility and in respect?

It’s the perspective of relative urgency that I wish that people would bear in mind in all of their dealings before invoking every ounce of their pent up impatience and anger.

To use the rationale that someone is busy just doesn’t hold any water anymore. Let’s face it… everybody’s busy!

Plus, everywhere I go, I hear that businesses are short-staffed. That being the case, some things take longer. What is important to remember is that it’s not the fault of front line staff.

I also wonder if the era of technological advancement we currently live in is partly to blame for eroding levels of patience.

Portable devices and the internet have enabled us to do so much with immediate results.

For researching a question, gone are the days of waiting for the rain to pass, to hop on one’s bicycle, to bike to the library, to go through the card file to locate the right books and then sit down and read through pages and pages until the answer is found a couple of hours later… or was that just me?

Our browsers can produce answers to our questions in fractions of seconds.

Online shopping and expedited delivery times have changed expectations of the retail sector.

Similarly, take-out food apps and delivery services have heightened expectations of the food industry.

Has technology raised expectations that everything should be at our fingertips in seconds rather than minutes or hours?

I’m not saying that these advancements are bad. Far from it.

My concern is the loss of perspective when we aren’t dealing with machines.

Given that so many of our transactions are a blend of human and technological feats of magic, shouldn’t we all remember to keep it civil, keep it classy, and to remember that people aren’t robots?

Let’s not lose sight of our humanity and remember to treat others as we wish to be treated, with kindness, compassion and respect.

Not only is patience a virtue, but especially these days, it is an essential!

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,

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