Thursday, September 01, 2011

One Moment Please

I'm a waiter.

Not in a restaurant but in the restaurant of life, that's me.

Who knows where it comes from. I think some of it I was born with and some I learned. I was an only child and the baby of the neighborhood kids. My earliest memories are the sight of Queen Bee furiously pedaling away from me on her bike while my hand-me-down Big Wheel fails to decrease the gap. I waited for other people to come out to play and I waited to be big/strong/fast/smart enough to do what they were doing.

My parents did something that I'm actually a huge advocate of, they took me places. They took me all sorts of places. Many of those places were not necessarily appropriate for my age range (then or now) but they took me anyway. I learned how to be a good audience member, a polite restaurant patron and I learned how to wait. I waited for transportation to arrive, for classes to finish, for grown ups to be done talking and a bunch of other things, too.

I learned that my mother is not susceptible to mind control and I learned to bring a book.

If there's anything that might be said to be bad about what I learned it's that I'm actually kind of afraid to go anywhere without reading material. Ever watch Gilmore Girls and see Rory bring 3 different kinds of reading material for a 20 minute commute? Last night I went to meet a friend at a restaurant that is less than a block from my house. She was already seated at the bar when I put my shoes on to leave my apartment. I had to talk myself out of packing a book in my bag. I reasoned that I had my phone and could check social media if I wound up with an extra long the crosswalk...or somewhere.

A lot of people hate to wait. And I don't use the word lightly, they hate it. They won't go to the post office because it will take too long. They'll switch restaurants because a table isn't immediately available. They'll break up with someone because the relationship is taking too long to get to whatever milestone. A lot of people aren't very good at waiting.

Sometimes I get to the airport three or more hours early just so I can wait. I can wait with a book, with my iPad, with an adult beverage, with a chocolate croissant, with my head pillowed on my knapsack for a restorative carpet nap. I get to the movies at least half an hour early because I like to settle down in my seat and watch the stupid commercials and trailers go by while I make sure I've got my sweater handy and my bag stowed and my Jr. Mints removed from their crinkle wrap. On work days I sometimes engineer trips to the post office as a way of injecting some job-sanctioned pleasure reading time into my day. On those days I am disappointed when the line is too short.

On the flip side, of course, I waited a couple of decades for a certain man to treat me like the princess he kept calling me. I've waited for jobs to get better and plays to be over and for dates to show up. I have waited for jackasses to shut up, for veterinarians to call me into the exam room and for the perfect knee high boots to go on sale. There are hours I will, I know, never get back. I'm OK with that.

Here's what I want you to know about waiting: You don't have to do it all the time. You don't even have to do it as much as I do. If you can keep calm and stand still for a short while, though, you might be pleasantly surprised about what catches up with you.


  1. When I was seven, my parent's lied and said I was 10 so I could get into the Pearl Harbor Museum in Hawaii.

    Some times when I'm waiting in lines, I'll do balancing poses. Yoga practice.

  2. Anonymous9:16 PM

    As I have been showing my sister the ropes in this city and how to use its mass transit, I find myself bringing books with me again. I usually bike or drive now so I have gotten out of such a practice until more recently.

    I've done a lot of waiting myself, the worst of it being waiting for others to help me. I'm slowly learning to either help myself or ask people for help.

  3. I can't stand waiting...

    ... but I've learned something useful, which is to not push against the person ahead of me. I've learned to stop tailgating people, or to stand inches away from the person ahead of me in line. When I'm at the grocery store, I don't stand behind the person in front of me with a double-handful of stuff waiting for them to lay down the plastic divider so I can start slamming my crap on the belt. I may still be in a hurry, but I try hard not to impose that on the people around me.

  4. for thought. I've always been the impatient sort myself, but I'm starting to come to your way of thinking. Also, I wish I could write as well as you do.

  5. I ALWAYS have to take reading material with me too, in case I have to wait somewhere (the bus is one thing that comes to mind frequently, or the example you cited)!! One of the things that I liked best about going to the films in the UK when we lived there was the assigned seating, so you didn't have to show up a half hour early to get a good seat! That and the sweet popcorn- only the Brits could invent something like that. It's my secret movie indulgence... All in all I am NOT very good at waiting... and I seem to be developing a bad habit of waiting for things to happen to me, instead of making them happen myself. I don't think that's a positive form of waiting. On the other hand, I really like anticipation, which is sometimes related to waiting.

  6. I also always have a book with me...I'm patient and content to wait as long as I have some type of distraction, be it book, iphone, etc.

  7. I rather like waiting when I'm alone, I honestly dread it with the kids. However, that said, the elders is fabulous at waiting with a book, and the younger with a drawing pad, so I've started carrying a book again myself and even get to read it once in awhile. When it's lines at stores and such I've gotten a lot more philosophical about it all since living here. I think I just do more of it, so it's not a huge deal. Once in awhile I get pissy and do the shifting from one hip to the other thing, but not often.

  8. Beautiful spin. Wonderful writing.