Sunday, September 13, 2015

Patience Is a Virtue or Something

            I can’t remember the exact story I was telling Shannon way back when, but I do remember that the events I was relating required me to pause and announce what I see as one of my central virtues.
            “Look,” I began, “I’m a patient gu—”
            “No you’re not,” Shannon said, and proceeded to laugh.
            A minute and a half later, when she showed no signs of stopping, I finally had to interrupt.
            “I’m not patient is what you’re saying?”
            “Sweetie,” she said, “you’re many things, but ‘patient’ isn’t one of them.”

            I had filed this little conversation away but had cause to remember it a few weeks ago, when I was running late for a meeting at school yet nevertheless stopped at a nearby Starbucks. As I reached the door, a couple of young girls no older than fourteen were coming from the other direction, so I opened the door for them and gestured them ahead. They giggled out a “thank you” and skittered toward the line. I went inside and fell in behind them.
            Which is when I realized my mistake.
            I assume that everyone orders as quickly as I do at Starbucks—a grande of whichever of the three roasts looks best, a little room for cream. My average time to complete the transaction is around 17.5 seconds, and I was counting on this rapidity if I was going to make my meeting.
            The girls, however, were operating on a different clock. The two of them stood and pointed and debated what they should get. Then they asked several questions of the cashier and then conferred with each other again.
            Oh c’mon, I thought, regretting my gesture of opening the door for them.
            Behind me in line was a mother and her two children, and I sighed loudly in attempt to get her attention so that I could throw her a “high school girls, amiright?” eye roll, but she was studying the menu on the wall herself. I shifted my feet and blew air through my lips in an effort to hurry the girls along in their deliberations. When they finally ordered, I saw one of the girls lean and say something to the cashier, who couldn’t hear what she was saying.
            Ohfershitsake…let’s GO already…
            The girl called the cashier closer, cupped her hand to the cashier’s ear, and whispered something. Then she handed the cashier her phone so that she could scan her Starbucks app, which is I guess how the kids pay for coffee these days.
            The girls moved on, and I made a somewhat douchey display of finally reaching the counter, but I suspect that I was the only one attuned to my subtle physical actions.
            I ordered my coffee and reached for my wallet, but the cashier told me that the two girls had already paid for me.

            I wish I could report that this little incident miraculously transformed my default mode from “MOVE, GodDAMmit!” to “Oh no, please, after you,” but in truth, the changeover has been gradual.
            I am trying, though.


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  2. “Be water, my friend.” --Bruce Lee
    “Water is always in such a hurry…perhaps that is just as well.” --Mameha, from Memoirs of a Geisha
    “So this guy came up with the idea that if you put these cods in these big vats--put some catfish in with them, and the catfish will keep the cod agile. And there are those people who are catfish in life, and they keep you on your toes.”—from the film Catfish

    Patience is said to be a virtue, my friend, but not everyone is a non-reactive element--some of us are catalysts, and some of us are catfish! vs