Impatience

Every once in a while, at job interviews, I’m asked what I think is my biggest flaw. I always say, “impatience.”  There are other contenders, of course, but nothing I’d care to discuss with a prospective employer.

Now, for me personally, I don’t think my impatience is a problem because I mostly feel justified in not wanting to spend a significant percentage of my time waiting. However, I do realize that waiting is part of life; that the world can’t adhere to my schedule (or any other schedule as far as I can tell); and that my impatience can impact others; so in that sense, I do see it as a problem.

For instance, I don’t like standing in lines. No one really does,  but many people just do it because they figure that’s just the way things are. Me, I’d rather leave and not purchase whatever I came in to purchase, than stand in a line for more than a few minutes. I think since  a place of business encourages lots of customers and makes their profits from those customers, it ought to ensure that those customers spend the maximum amount of money in the shortest possible time.

Instead they have one cashier on every day during the lunch rush (I’m looking at you Shopper’s Drug Mart, Hogsback). The line is 15+ people long and when I ask why there aren’t more cashiers on, they tell me (like I’m dense) “D’uh, it’s lunch time – they’re at lunch.”

Oh! Shall I come back when it’s more convenient for you?

Or the other day, we had a completely unnecessary appointment with one of XUP Jr.’s medical specialists. It was just to brief us on the completely unnecessary test they made her do a couple of month ago, the results of which are completely irrelevant. So they made the appointment  – for 11:30.

Fine. We show up 10 minutes early. (Because I always strive to be early for appointments out of respect for the busy people with whom I have an appointment.) XUP Jr. is missing school for this and I’m losing a half day of work.

By 11:45 I’m getting twitchy. By 12:00 I’m getting irritated. By 12:15 I march up to the counter and ask (as nicely as I possibly can) how much longer it’s going to be.

“Ma’am,” she says without even looking at me. “You’ll have to take a seat and wait your turn.”

“My turn,” I point out (not so nicely anymore), “was 45 minutes ago. YOU made the appointment.”

She gives me an evil glare and orders me to go back to the waiting area. I sense some sort of threat implicit in her demeanor.

XUP Jr. says, “Let’s just go. I have to be back at school for 1:00.”  I tell her, very patiently, to hang on a few more minutes. 12:30 comes and goes.  At 12:45,  I go back to the counter. Someone new is there. I ask them if they can give me any idea how much longer because we have to go.  The new guy just shrugs and says I have to wait until the specialist is ready to see us.

At 12:55 we leave.

I deeply resent when people waste my time like this. And without any explanation or apology.  Deeply. When I make an appointment at my doctors’s and they squeeze me in, I expect a good long wait. Not when a specialist makes the appointment to see us.

And there’s no way I’ll wait more than 10 minutes without a good explanation at the dentist’s or hairstylists or anywhere else where I’m paying for a certain time slot. Get organized, ya’ll!

I hate – HATE – going to spend my money somewhere and then being made to feel like I’m imposing on them and that I’d better behave and adhere to the designated herding area if they’re going to let me buy something from their one surly cashier because they don’t want to blow their profits on actually hiring staff to help customers.

I don’t like going to meetings or training sessions on time only to have to sit there for 15 minutes twiddling my thumbs waiting for the stragglers to show up before they’ll start the meeting. A couple of weeks ago I went to a training thing where I was the only one on time. Half the people never showed up at all. The rest showed up 10-20 minutes late — and we waited those 20 minutes to begin. And then, one guy showed up 45 minutes late and the instructor actually started all over again for his benefit.

I had to leave the room.

In some ways, impatience serves me well (as I tell the job interviewers). It makes me the opposite of whatever a procrastinator is. (A concrastinator?) If there’s something that needs to be done, I get it done as quickly and efficiently as I possibly can. If other people are involved, I hound them mercilessly until they surrender their part of the project. On weekends or holidays I always have to get all the chores done and out of the way before I can relax.

Oh ya, I’m a barrel of laughs.

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