Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Patience is its own reward

What? Huh?

That generally was my reaction whenever my mother explained about patience being it's own reward. Patience, she said, was one of the greatest virtues.

When it came to patience, I was not, and still am not, the most virtuous of folk.

The thing is, patience in everyday life is rarely rewarded, thus the saying patience is its own reward.

But what is patience's reward? Well, patience.

Take today for instance.

I decided to be cleverer than normally is good for me.

I would rush into Michael's on the way to picking up the boys from their swim camp at the YMCA. I had 25 minutes to get to Michael's, pick up something I knew EXACTLY where it was, get in the truck, and go get the boys. PLENTY of time.

Of course, you know what happens now.
One cashier. One customer. 300 separate pieces of scrap book paper. A cashier incapable of saying "300X item." Customer using $100 bills to pay.

I exhibited patience the entire time the customer in front of me was doing her thing. After all, she had a right to buy all the stuff she wanted. It wasn't her fault I was in a hurry. I even exhibited patience with the cashier... until...

...she needed someone else to look at the bills. Okay fine.
...she needed keys to get change. Fine.
..."I'll be right back, I need to return these..." Um, not fine. The entire time I've been standing there patiently, her first act, to reward my patience, was to leave.
...Oh, excuse me... as the phone rang... that was her second reward, rather than letting the other non-busy cashier who was faster, and politely ignoring the phone, get it.

So, then of course there was her snarky attitude, her simpering smile because she had seen me glance at the time a few times (well, I had to, didn't I, I was running late and needed to decide if I had time for this, or if I had to drop it and run) and had apparently decided to be snarky. I could have moved to the next register when it opened up, but I mistakenly thought she would understand that she had a 'long customer' and be courteous and fast. Whatever.

What I wanted to say was,

Listen cow, (even though she had no spots and didn't moo once) could you you know, speed it up?

Then I thought:

Wow, if it had been a cold winter's day and a cashier made of molasses rung me up, it'd have been quicker.

Kay, Snarky Molasses Cow, do you REALLY need to return the keys RIGHT THIS MINUTE seeing as I'm the ONLY one here and the other woman is FOUR rows down?

So as I was walking out the door, rushing, really, because now I was running late, I thought, this world just doesn't reward patience.

But patience rewards us with patience.

Because, at the end of the eternally long check-out process with the Molasses Cow, I realized the problem wasn't her, it was me.

I expected her to not BE a molasses cow. Truthfully, nothing I could do or say, short of setting fire to her, could make her move faster. Oh, I could grumble at her, stamp my feet, sigh, huff, puff, and look around for the Speedy Gonzales Cashier, but that's about it.

Anyhow... clearly, all of those behaviors are self-defeating. She's still a cow made of molasses ringing up your order, and arson isn't worth the aggravation.

I was really just mad at myself.
Mad, because I've encountered the Molasses Cow before, and had forgotten about her.
Mad, because I knew I didn't REALLY have time to run into Michael's, and it was my own damn fault.
Mad, because there really isn't anything you can do to a Molasses Cow, even a snarky one. It wasn't her fault (though I could have done without all the efforts to keep me waiting even LONGER just because I looked at my phone a few times) she was a Snarky Molasses Cow (I may be preaching patience, but I'm a bit bitter, so forgive me). She was what she was. I should simply have left for Michael's earlier, or gone after I'd gotten the boys.

The truth is, by the time I got in the truck and realized snarky cows made of molasses are unchangeable, I was no longer mad. I realized the truth. I wouldn't have cared if I had gotten there earlier, or after picking up the boys. By not exhibiting patience, by not leaving early or waiting for later, I was rushed, and it made me cranky. Because the world doesn't reward patient people, or people who are in a rush either. In fact, the world doesn't reward anyone. It doesn't care.

If I were more patient, the entire, above incident wouldn't have happened. Oh sure, she'd still be a snarky molasses cow, but it wouldn't have bothered me. I wouldn't have been in a rush. I'd have been able to chew the cud with her if I wanted.

So I left, with a great deal more patience than when I arrived, and every red light (and trust me, they were ALL red) served as amusing little pointed reminders that I can be as late or impatient as I want, the lights were all going to be red and it'd take as long as it took to pick up the boys. I chose to be patient, and sang to the radio.

Patience's reward is patience.

1 comment:

iMommy said...

Great post. Although I secretly, patiently hate you for revealing The Truth, because now I'll think of this when I'm feeling snarky towards other slow-pokes and time-wasters. And that will just ruin ALL my fun.