Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The patience of a five-year old

As children, we knew these two words would come up sooner or later. "Be patient," your guardian would say with obvious disgust. How could a child with no worries or responsibilities be impatient? they thought to themselves. The very idea! However, despite the idea that one should learn to be patient, hardly anyone is patient. 

City folk already have a reputation for being notoriously impatient, toe-tapping, gum-chewing, watch-checking, heavy-sighing, hands-on-hips, no-nonsense people. Yet despite the stigma, I know many patient city dwellers (including myself). Surprisingly, the people that I have noticed with the least patience are those that have been here on earth longer than many others—that's right, I'm referring to our senior citizens.

Perhaps a lifetime of waiting has just worn out the elderly community. They have waited for so many things and people already (and seemingly only have death to wait for). Yet the elderly have an even worse situation to deal with—very rapid change. With all of the new, automated gadgets and programs, our grandparents have to learn things that are completely new to them. 

Just tonight I went shopping for some baking supplies at my local Giant. It was actually quite busy within the store, but nothing extensive. Since I had checked out my items as I shopped, I opted for the self-checkout kiosks. Several other customers were already in line, and I queued up in the second lane. The people before me were having some issues, so I was just waiting and flipping through a Life magazine. Lo and behold, the elderly gentleman at the lane beside mine was having hard time checking out. He handled the situation completely wrong and I probably should have helped him (another blog post on that, I promise), but I thought it best to leave it up to the professionals. He wisely selected the help option on the screen and became upset when the associate did not come immediately (he was already pre-occupied with another customer). After huffing and puffing for about thirty seconds, he went and got the associate himself. Apparently, he was not happy with what the man told him, and he flung an innocent head of lettuce down the conveyor belt. 

It was then that I thought to myself, "Good gosh, this man has the patience of a five-year old." Then, I immediately took that thought back. You see, we are always quick to say when a person is impatient. You know what I mean—the idiot that cut you off, the jerk that let the elevator doors close during peak hours although you were obviously indicating that you needed to board, the loser that jumps in front of you in line. However, when the shoe is suddenly on your foot, we have excuses for our behaviour. 

As we hit hump day this week, try to consciously be patient. Breathe deeply, count to 100, do what it takes to stay calm. Patience may be a virtue, but it can be achieved with much practice.

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