2018-01-03 / Editorials

But... wait!

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

Patience is a virtue, they say, and if that’s true, it’s just going to be a virtue that’s not within my reach.

I really don’t like to wait. I hated waiting for Christmas as a child. I hate waiting for football season as an adult.

I feel like I’ve spent a large part of my life waiting. Waiting at a red light. Waiting for a table at a restaurant. Waiting to use the ATM.

As it turns out, I’ve been right all along. While searching for something else online recently, I stumbled across some Census Bureau statistics that show the average American spends nearly 17 months of his or her life waiting in line.

A full six months of that time is spent waiting for the traffic light to change.

This frustrates me. I’m not always a patient person. I don’t like spending even a few minutes standing in a line, and now I realize that a minute here and a minute there, and suddenly I’ve devoted nearly a year and a half of my life to waiting.

That’s time I could have spent on other things, like sleeping, which I never seem to get enough of. Of course, the Census Bureau says we spend nearly a third of our lives sleeping, which doesn’t explain why I feel like taking a nap every afternoon about 3 o’clock.

We probably shouldn’t be surprised at any of this. We must wait just about everywhere we go.

When you go to the bank — whether you drive through or go in — you must wait in a line. I always worry about waiting in line at the bank. I don’t want them to run out of money before it’s my turn.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Clarke,” the teller would say. “I just gave the last $5 to that last customer. Could you check back with us in a couple of days? A truck should have come by then.”

When you go to a restaurant — particularly on a Friday or Saturday night — you must wait. Usually, they don’t make you stand in an actual line, and, if you are in a nice enough restaurant, they'll let you wait in the bar in an attempt to numb you to the fact that you waited 90 minutes to spend $75 on dinner.

Last week, I had the worst kind of waiting, hospital waiting room waiting. Even though the doctor tells you everything is going to be fine, and you know in your heart everything is going to be fine, the wait is awful. I can’t think of anything as anxiety-ridden and as exhausting as waiting while someone you care about is in surgery. I’d be less tired after running a marathon.

Everything did, in fact, go fine, even though we waited for an eternity. And then the next day, we go to do the second worst kind of waiting — waiting to be discharged from the hospital. It’s not as anxiety ridden as waiting room waiting, but it’s just as exhausting.

I really don’t want to be one of those people who complains but then doesn’t take any action to correct a problem. I’d like to find a solution, so I don’t have to wait in lines so much. I thought about writing my congressman.

Then I remembered the lines at the post office.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of AccessWDUN.com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch.clarke@gmail.com. Read previous columns at www.accesswdun.com/blog/mitch.

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