Patiently waiting for more patience


I remember the night like it was yesterday. I tossed and turned. My mind raced with questions and outcomes — some good, some bad. I turned on some music to help me fall asleep, but nothing really seemed to work.

I was worried. I had spent the day in a series of panel interviews. I was interviewing for a newspaper reporter position for a mid-sized newspaper in Connecticut. I had put my best foot forward, but I had no idea what the editor and his team thought of me.

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I needed the job. I was graduating college in a few weeks and would soon have a large pile of student loans coming in my mailbox. Of course, I kept rehashing the interview over and over in mind. I could tell you instantly where I had stuttered and stumbled.

The waiting was the worse. I followed up with a thank you letter and follow-up call, but heard nothing. In the end, I would wait a crippling month for a short two sentence letter to come in the mail stating that they “had gone in a different direction.”

Several months would pass before I would end up getting a job in my hometown. I remember letting out an exhausted, gleeful yell when I finally got the job. Despite the happy ending, I saved the Connecticut newspaper rejection letter and a host of others I received at the time and still have them somewhere in a cedar chest in my basement as a reminder to be patient.

Still waiting for patience

You would think after all this time and all these years, I’ve would gotten better with waiting. You would think that with years of professional and personal experience I would have this “patience thing” down pat, but unfortunately you would be wrong. I was waiting on some work news recently and you would’ve thought I was in excruciating pain.

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I walked around the house aimlessly the other day. I wondered and worried. I ran through a million what-if scenarios in my head. If only I had done this, if only I had said that. My wife finally yelled at me to snap out of my fog.

When God handed out the patience gene, I must have jumped out of line. I’ve never been real patient. The worst is waiting in a long line that has no rhyme or reason. It doesn’t matter if it’s a line to pay a bill, pick-up a new driver’s license or getting buckled into an amusement park ride line.

I usually keep myself under control, but the worst had to be a number of years ago when my wife and I took our three young kids to Walt Disney World in Orlando. The mixture of long lines, my kids’ anticipation, the hot 94-degree temperature, and my own frustration were a deadly combination. On our way out of the park, I came close to going off on poor, little ole Minnie Mouse and her Disney escort, who shooed us away dismissively when we stumbled across the pair on their way to break. Thankfully my kids missed the whole scene, but I couldn’t help but brainstorm in my head a couple of new creative names for “The Happiest Place on Earth.” 

We staggered our way back to our hotel room. Fortunately for everyone involved, I was able to get a refreshing shower and a short rest and regain my composure for our return visit later that evening. And yes, that’s me with the big smile with Goofy.

A few lessons learned the hard way

Despite my many failings, here’s what I’ve learned about being patient:

–Find something else to do with your time. “Patience is not the ability to wait, but keeping a good attitude while waiting.”

–Seek out short term wins. Run to the next house, the next tree, the next street, for another three minutes, whatever it takes to keep going and to keep fighting.

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–Skip the need to look down at your watch. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t speed up time. We may not like waiting, but sometimes we have to remind ourselves that even the longest storms can’t last forever. Tropical Hurricane/Typhoon John traveled through the eastern Pacific Ocean and became the longest lasting tropical storm, lasting for a total of 31 days in August 1994.

But it did indeed end and the sun eventually came out to shine.

With that in mind, I stumbled across a quote in recent weeks that has helped sustain me. The point of the quote is this: “It takes six months to build a Rolls Royce and thirteen hours to build a Toyota.”

Toyota has some fun and dependable cars and trucks to drive. There’s a lot to be said for “fun and dependable,” but I would be crazy to pass up a Rolls Royce.

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