Patience (noun): The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

These days, it’s not unusual to encounter long lines of people outside of buildings because of new occupancy limits inside buildings to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

So, when I went to the bank this morning, there was a line of about 7 people waiting outside. It looked much longer because of social distancing but then I wondered, how long was the line inside? On the window of the bank’s small office was a sign that read, “Only ten people inside at a time.” Now, previous visits have taught me that it was not unusual to have ten people in line just waiting to see a teller, not to mention the other employees in private offices and at the entrance. So it was no wonder the line outside seemed to have more people than usual.

Right in front of me was a woman who was social distancing, but stood off to the side of the line. Can’t say I blame her. Fortunately, everyone around us was wearing masks, but not all of us were so patient with the waiting. I’m speaking of a man in front of that woman who was tall with gray hair. For ease of writing, I’m just going to call him, Mr. Now.

Mr. Now

Mr. Now momentarily left the line to walk up front, peer into the bank window and then returned to his place in line. A few minutes later an employee stepped out, I’ll call her Grace, and she walked down the line with a clipboard asking each person what service they needed, in order to assess whether or not she could send them in. So far, no one was going inside.

Grace

Once Grace got to Mr. Now, he immediately started in with his impatient pity-party and asked, “Are you going to serve lunch?” It was 9:15 am.

Grace immediately responded with, “No sir, it’s still breakfast time.” (I chuckled, quietly.) 

“Well,” he adamantly replied, “we may be here until then!” He then proceeded to grill her about how many tellers they have working today, and they should get more! 

Grace maintained her professionalism, and continued with her questioning. Since Mr. Now wanted to see a teller, he was just going to have to wait in line with the rest of us. 

About 10 or 15 minutes went by before Mr. Now was let into the building. A few minutes later, I went into the building, along with the lady in front of me. Things had changed inside from the last time I was there. There wasn’t a line for the tellers except for myself and the lady in front of me, so it was a relief to know I didn’t have to wait in another long line after we went in. Mr. Now wasn’t so appreciative. After he finished his financial business, the teller asked if there was anything else she could do for him. He starts in with how he’s probably going to close his account because he had to wait sooo long. Really? Was it long? I was right there waiting longer behind you sir, and didn’t feel the need to complain and threaten to close my account.

Now, as much as I would like to think more highly of myself for not complaining, I had to be honest and realize I’ve been that person too. The person who can’t wait, who wants service NOW, who NEEDS to speak to someone immediately before I go nuts! Man, was I obnoxious! And full of excuses. Oh, I have to hurry because… fill in the blank.

The truth is, I had to learn that my impatience was more about wanting people to serve me than any reason to be somewhere in a hurry. I just don’t like waiting. But who does?

For the benefit of my mental health, I’ve learned it’s best to take a breath, remain calm, and understand that other people may be going through something I have no idea about. Like Mr. Now. I could have made lots of remarks about how he was rude, disrespectful, as well as impatient. But the truth is, he may be going through something, or recovering from something I have no idea about. So I have to learn to be patient with people like Mr. Now. 

Grace sure was patient with him. When I walked into the bank, I passed her while saying, “You’re doing great!” And I meant it. 

She replied in an exasperated tone, “I’m trying.” 

Yes, Grace, so am I. Thank you Grace for showing me how to be better towards people like Mr. Now. 

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