I guess I’ll (happily) wait my turn…next time!

Luke patiently watching Ben eat his dog food.

I was supposed to meet Jack at my office yesterday at 1pm. He and a friend were moving an air-conditioner downstairs and a small refrigerator upstairs for our new office space. I thought that I’d pop into the post office and mail out a package before I met him, and was happy to see only one person at the counter ahead of me.

I became less happy as the woman slowly pulled out 4 separate checks, with stamp orders to fill individually. She told Martha how many stamps that she wanted for each order (and these were not small numbers). After about 5 minutes, (which seems like long time in the post office), Martha finally organized the rolls and sheets for the various orders. Then the woman said, “Oh, not the rolls. I hate them. What do you have in sheets?” Martha said she would have to go out back and see what she had. The woman just nodded. The line behind me started to form and I started feeling anxious.

I didn’t catch my judgemental thoughts as they arose. I began thinking, “This is too long. She should be more considerate. People are waiting and have important places to go.” A man started clearing his throat. Someone else made a comment about the line. The woman did not move any faster, and she didn’t make eye-contact with anyone as she walked past the line when she was finished. I think that she could feel the negative energy coming her way. I left the post office 10 minutes later than I had planned to line up perfectly with Jack pulling into the parking lot. Nothing was wrong, I wasn’t late.

I wish that I had caught those crappy thoughts before I sent them flying out, maybe making someone (besides myself!) feel bad. I drove back home to feed the cats their lunch, and walked into the kitchen to see Ben (one of our cats) eating Luke’s dog food and Luke just waiting. What was a beautiful site! What a contrast to my own behaviour (if only in thought). Luke was not thinking, “Hey, this is unfair! That is my food, or you are taking too long!  What do you think you are doing? Cats should not eat dog food, this is an outrage. I am going to speak to the management!” None of that.

Sometimes I make up “rules” in my head, and feel irritated if others don’t follow them. I didn’t realize it, but I must have had a 5 minute post office rule. I guess it would go like this, “If you have more than 5 minutes worth of business at the post office, please split your visits into appropriate increments so the rest of us (i.e. me) will not be inconvenienced.” I heard a comedian say once, “Don’t you know who I think I am?!”

But I know who I am. I am a “work in progress”…walking, sometimes tripping, sometimes even falling down, but always getting back up, with a little more conviction to take the higher road next time. I still need to remind myself everyday to say,

“Everyday in every way, I am getting better and better!” Emile Coue

20 thoughts on “I guess I’ll (happily) wait my turn…next time!

  1. Oh, Mary, once again you have pointed out my “weaknesses” in such a nice way…LOL!! The next time I’m waiting in that long line, I will think of Luke and how patient he is…THANK YOU!!!

    I’ve never heard that quote from the comedian but I love it and will pass it along.

    Hope you have the best day…

  2. I make up rules in my head too. And when other don’t abide by them I get angry too. The quote by that comedian fit me to a “T”. I will try to keep in my head that people are wonderfut things.

  3. Oh BINGO! This is SO me. You would think that I was having tea with Wills and Kate and couldn’t be late…my life is so important, you see!

    Thanks, Mary, for giving me a reference point for future “irritations whilst waiting on a line.” I, too, will try to keep your dear Luke in mind during those times.

  4. Having moved from the Big City to a small rural village where the Post Office has a hitching post out front “For Horses Only” (really), I, too, have had to learn new rules for how business is conducted! I used to prize efficiency above all else. Now I’ve learned to savor the human (and humane) interactions. And to plan on spending more time in line.

    And yet . . . and yet . . . In traffic yesterday, I fumed “I just wish everyone would do everything the way I want them to do it.” But, in my defense, at least I laughed out loud after I thought it.

  5. A picture sure does say a thousand words – I loved this post, and I, too, will picture patient Luke next time I feel annoyed to be waiting somewhere. Years ago when I had to attend what seemed like interminable dinners at restaurants (business) as ‘wife of’, I honestly thought I’d go crazy as one course progressed to another (this was in Spain, I know, most would say, how cool, but dinners there can go 3 hours easily!, and the novelty of eating out dwindles) Even though I speak the language, conversation was male dominated, and I would start feeling really antsy by the time the inevitable brandies and cigars came out. But I learned a way to access that rich interior space inside ourselves, mastering the art of smiling on the outside, but leaving the endless chatter to meander (word I love from a few days ago!) inside my mind. Just a thought for next time you’re waiting in line. Start singing the words to a favorite song, picture yourself tubing on the river, – it might sound really kooky, but sometimes I would even conjure up the feel of my dog’s soft head as I missed him so. Next time I feel anxious waiting somewhere, I know I’ll be seeing sweet Luke waiting his turn. Oh Mary, I’ve never seen such beautiful orange fur sprouting from a dog’s head, what a moptop! – any chance you could give us a picture showing Luke’s face?

  6. P.S. – Didn’t realize I could click on Ben and Luke and print out a picture of them! Hope I have their ‘permission’, 🙂 – They will go up on the refrigerator as a daily reminder to ‘chill’ and wait my turn. Thanks Mary. Happy day all!

  7. Oh Mary, thanks for the reminder….again! Yes, I too, am a work in progress. I choose to excuse both myself and the other person, making no one wrong.

  8. hi everyone -my keyboard for my iPad is not functioning, si I am slowed down by having to hit the manual iPad built in keypad. Yes, I am grateful to have an iPad and yes I will get my other keyboard fixed or replace it – Just wanted to share this frustration! Please excuse errors….

    Eckhart Tolle in his books and tapes on “The Power of the Now” says that there is no waiting or waisting of time, but these are opportunities to observe other people, places, things – new encounters etc. Airport delays, Post Office lines,
    Traffic gridlock can be moments of joy…when I remember this, it works for me.

    Sometimes I am that lady with the extra needs and I love that Martha andWendy are so patient and helpful.

  9. I love the line, “Don’t you know who I think I am?!”… and I feel so busted…because I know I do have my fair share of those personal rules too. There are already so many rules to follow anyway, I think I’ll sort through mine and eliminate the ones that cause me needless irritation. Thanks for the insight, Mary!

  10. Oh, drat! Hide the laptop, quick. I can’t take a chance that my dear husband finds out that all those ‘rules’ are strictly in my head and not written on official stone tablets somewhere from on high!! He keeps asking “Who made that rule?” whenever I allow my frustrations to bubble over the top.
    Thanks for the gentle reminder to be gentle—whenever we can.

  11. Ouch! I can’t count the times I’ve stood in line steaming because the person in front of me is taking too long, or maybe just exchanging pleasantries with the clerk (which adds another 30 seconds onto my wait) as they gather up their groceries or whatever. “My gosh, just check out and leave!” is what I’m always thinking. Yikes. Gotta let that go! It will be an interesting experiment to see how tough it is to change that awful habit of negativity! Thank you Mary for continuing to challenge me!

  12. I was made humble while waiting in line to check out at the grocery store. The delivery man for Hostess Foods was going to each line to do inventory of the snacks for sale at the check-out This meant that I had to wait while he counted items preventng me from putting my items on the conveyor belt. It took some time and I waited, but in my mind was thinking, “ok buddy, enough! ” It felt like an eternity. I smiled when he thanked me and I said no problem. He went to the next line and AGAIN returned to thank me! He said he appreciated my kindness as most people grumble and give him a hard time. He didn’t understand what the hurry was that everyone was in….If only he had know what my thoughts had been!!!

    • Your story gave me a smile this morning Jean! Thank you for sharing it!

  13. Sometimes when I am waiting in line, especially in the stores, I think of how it used to be when there were General Stores and people went there for everything they needed and everyone knew everyone and it was a social occasion. Not that I am that old, but I can imagine how it may have been (ie, Waltons era) to look forward to those conversations with the store clerk and other patrons and the time away from daily duties. I think I would like things to slow down. I don’t like being in a hurry to get from one place to another. It is so much more enjoyable when we can interact. I so love that picture and your message, Mary. Thank you!

    • That is a very creative way of looking at lines in stores…I really like it and am going to give it a try! I am looking forward to my next line so I can try it out. Thanks Diana!

  14. A surprisingly appropriate fortune cookie at dinner tonight. It said, “Ask yourself this question: Is my attitude worth catching?” I will remember that positive twist on the topic of patience!

    • That is a great fortune cookie! …Thank you for sharing it Barbara!

  15. It always amazes me how animals make us realize just how ungrounded we are. They find simplicity and joy in every moment…even if its waiting in line for a nibble of food. In the mornings my cats literally get in line to use the litterpan. They wait quietly and peacefully. I try to occupy my time spent in long lines by people watching. It is very entertaining!!! Almost as entertaining as watching my animals!

  16. From a different perspective though – my time is not for others to waste. I get tired of others deciding that they can be disrespectful and discourteous by making me wait on them. In this case, the customer should have been polite and stood aside to let others through before taking up so much time.

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