The Old Coot is on a waiting list

I listened to a woman yell into a smart phone in the grocery store the other day. Actually it was a flip phone, and it wasn’t the other day, it was 18 years ago. But nothing has changed. People always talk loud when on a cell phone. It takes all the challenge (and fun) out of eavesdropping. This woman told a friend she just bought a rotisserie chicken for dinner.

Maybe it’s me, but I think the smartphone has eliminated the last shred of patience in our society. We can’t wait anymore; we have to report on things as they happen, no matter how miniscule.

The news media has adapted to our inflated lack of patience. They used to focus on the day’s events, but now they focus more on the future, knowing we’re too impatient to wait for it to unfold. We need to know now!

The media, talk radio, and most especially sports commentators spend their airtime speculating on what’s to come, bringing in an endless string of “experts” to forecast what will be. These prognosticators are cocky and self-assured, but more times than not, they are wrong! I chuckle when their predictions prove false.

My old coot crowd was brought up in a world of waiting. Patience was embedded deep within our psyches. It started with cereal box tops for me. I’ll never forget the months it took to eat my way through three boxes of Wheaties so I could send them and three dimes in for some cheap toy.

Even then, the wait wasn’t over, the wooden glider kit took two months to come, an eternity for an 8-year-old. (Just for the record – the plane didn’t fly any better than one made by folding a piece of paper.) 

I even had to be patient with what I wore. If my mother caught me putting on a freshly ironed shirt she’d tell me to put it back in the closet. “Get that shirt off; I just ironed it!” Clean shirts had to age for three days in my house. Same thing with new clothes. “Where are you going in those pants? I just bought them last week.”

It wasn’t just clothes; I was forced to exercise patience when offered food at a friend or neighbor’s house. I couldn’t say yes until it was offered three times.

“Would you like a piece of pie?”  

“No thanks,” I’d say, looking over to my mother for an indication she would suspend her three-offer rule. She never did! And I missed out on a lot of pie.

I’ll never forget my mother’s reaction when she asked my friend Wally if he would like a piece of pie. He said, “Yes I would, Mrs. Lessler,” after only one offer. Boy, that made her mad. I could interpret her mumbles as she turned to get the pie; luckily, he couldn’t. He would have heard, “What a rude young man; what kind of mother does he have?”

Yes, I learned patience, but it never did me any good. I went around in dirty clothes and still have an insatiable hunger for pie. It’s an affliction I can’t shake.

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