Three people waited in line at the pharmacy; two of them were mad about waiting. These two people used every chance they could get to express their anger. As I sat there, patient, or as patient as I could while my lower back screamed out in agony, I was as polite as I could. Why be rude? Is that going to make the process go any quicker? Especially since the pharmacy was actually quite busy.
I had to wait around because they weren’t finished filling my third prescription.
When I’m in situations like that, I could look at my smartphone for a time, I could take a walk, or what I ended up doing was just letting my imagination take me on a little trip into “The Story.” Thinking about “The Story,” and its main characters John and Trishna, is my path of least resistance. Easier than thinking about the embarrassing words I said ten years ago or frustration, if I think about my fictional world, things tend to go smoother.
Here’s a recent scene that’s playing in my mind over the past few days.
John and Trishna are playing a videogame. They pause so she can go to the kitchen, probably get snacks, so John is sitting there with a paused videogame until he sees Trishna’s service dog Pollyanna get up from her doggie bed. Pollyanna doesn’t follow Trishna everywhere, mainly, if she doesn’t need to transfer to a toilet or another chair, so it was probably the kitchen. When John sees Pollyanna get up, he turns off the game, so he can give his full attention to her. He asks if she’s hungry or thirsty. She isn’t. She just wanted to rest her snout on his leg, be around him, and get a nice pat on the head.
Is that my “happy place” where I go when I might otherwise be mad?
Would these two impatient patients have benefited from doing anything other than stewing in their own anger? I am no patron saint of patience, by any means, but I think by practicing my patience in situations like today, I can learn to practice patience more often.
Of course, I don’t know these two patients’s life story.
What if they had somewhere they needed to be? What if they were running late for an urgent matter? I thought of all the other people that went through the line during that lunch hour and wondered about how many of them were on their lunch breaks. Businesses are starting to reopen after COVID-19 shut down almost everything, so now that we’re gambling lives against the economy, it’s not just imagination. Last month, when I stopped in for some medications, it wasn’t this busy.
These patients, who sat down in chairs near me after I had already been seated there, proclaimed that they had been waiting for “over a hour and a half!” Of course, I only noticed when they sat down, so they could have been wandering around other parts of the pharmacy area, and just didn’t see them, but I have this hunch that they were just being rude for the sake of it. People are often like this, either on purpose or accidentally, when they’re in a hurry. I know I’ve been there.
I’m trying to save my anger for when they really deserve it.
The cashier asked, “would you like to see the pharmacy manager?” No response from the two people that had spent the past “hour and a half” complaining and being miserable. They had no ground to stand on. It wasn’t some offense that could have been corrected had the manager been informed. It was just two people being irresponsible with their energy and time.
Another cashier rung me up and was appreciative of my time.
I said that I appreciated the check-in and getting things sorted out for me. In my life, I only have time stolen from me – as these people probably no doubt will carry with them to stories with their family and others in anguish over the utter disaster of having to wait in line – when I’m not resolving current business or thinking about what I want to write next.
The idea for this essay popped up while I sat there in that uncomfortable chair.
I thought, too, about how I would do other things over the next few days. Until COVID-19 has a verifiable cure, I will try to limit touching objects like my smartphone, glasses, and face while I’m outside my home. I wear leather gloves everywhere, which was something I thought about, too. Pre-COVID-19, I never wore gloves when I did any physical labor work. I like getting my hands into the grit of yardwork. Now? The next time I do yardwork, I will probably wear gloves, just out of habit. I don’t touch my face when I’m wearing these gloves, and if I need to adjust my glasses, well, I make it work with minimal contact.
So I have to use my imagination more.
I’ve been practicing, in these situations where I might wait for myriad reasons, to let my imagination explore the area. What objects in my current environment might spark an idea in my imagination? Why does everything have to be such a panic? The cashier had stated a preference for faster-paced work, so might lean closer toward the two impatient patients’s perspective, which is fine. They could have said something like “we’ve got to go somewhere soon, should we come back later?” They could have ran their errand and then returned later in the day. But strangely, I think that when they – as I have, in my past – forgot to consider the rationality of alternatives. If there’s anything I’ve learned through my journey into and away from poor health, it’s patience, and appreciating having energy.
I never knew how much of a luxury it was to have the energy to complain until I lost that energy.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: This poor family, no doubt, wanted to get home to waste time.|
|Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.|
|Written On: 2020 June 12 [4:44pm to 5:17pm]|
|Last Edited: 2020 June 12 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|