I am probably one of the most impatient people you will ever meet. I’ve learned to manage this or disguise it effectively, sort of. I refuse to go to amusement parks because the idea of waiting in line makes me crazy. A wait of more than 10 minutes at a restaurant, I’m leaving. A meeting that starts 15 minutes late (especially when I arrive 15 minutes early), my ears are ringing, and, for goodness sakes, how many red lights are in this little city?!
I go into restaurants with a plan. I’ve already assessed the menu online because my dietary needs are a bit different than most. I know what I want. So, when I arrive my typical 15-20 minutes early and wait for you to be a bit late, IT IS a problem. And, unless you had a real emergency or are a cherished friend or associate, we will not be meeting again.
You can imagine my frustration when I recently sat patiently waiting for an associate at a table, already equipped to make decisions, complete the necessary discussion topics, and excuse myself. He arrived late and read every option on the menu. Then he ordered an appetizer. Then he asked the waiter about the specials; to be more accurate, he interrogated the waiter about the specials. And then he ordered something totally different. He chewed so slowly that my plate was empty before he finished his salad.
He then ordered wine. Not as in “can you recommend a red and surprise me?” No, that is how I order wine. He ordered it by systematically reviewing the drink menu, sampling not two but four varieties and then ordered a white zinfandel. I was elated when his plate was finally empty. But then he ordered dessert. He wanted dessert! I ordered coffee. We had been at the table for two and a half hours!
I was frustrated beyond reason and asked for the check. I paid the bill just to get out of there! I politely excused myself from an evening of wasted time.
The time was in fact wasted. Not because I sat at the table with an associate for so long, but because I sat at the table with an associate for so long thinking about other things I needed to do. I worried and fretted for almost 3 hours with absolutely nothing to show for it. I wasn’t happier. I wasn’t better for it. It made very little difference to my bottom line.
But it could have…
I could have enjoyed his story about his grandchildren. I could have been happier because of the time spent smiling at his antics about life in general and possibly even enjoyed his commentary about his daughter’s childhood exploration fiascoes.
I could have learned something about business by listening to his stories about his career. I could also have learned something about life by listening to his potentially engaging story of illness and recovery. I could have been a better person because of his testimony.
I could have improved my bottom line too, had I been present enough to request a renewed contract instead of rushing out in a hurry to get home.
It is in my nature to rush. I am busy, and time is scarce. But when I start feeling rushed, I need to take a deep breath and remind myself that time can only truly be wasted if I refuse to recognize the potential of each moment.
I pray now for wisdom, both for myself and for others. I pray that no time be wasted living in another moment, be it the past which is over or be it the future which we are not promised. I pray that our experiences make us better and happier. I pray peace to all.