Monday, November 09, 2009

Impatience Magnified

I have a little bit of a challenge around being patient. It's probably one of my biggest struggles if the truth be told. I find it very difficult to be patient and I have to constantly monitor and wrestle with my impulses.

I don't like to do anything slow. I am fairly efficient at most things I do. I really, really like it when other people are efficient too! :) I also don't like to be inconvenienced by other people's lack of efficiency!

I think that life gives us a giant mirror to look in at times, to show us the characteristics that we need to face and deal with. The mirror often is one that magnifies the issue. If we see someone doing exactly what we do, at exactly the same level of intensity, it would look normal to us. I believe we are shown 'exaggerated' versions of ourselves in order to call our attention to problem areas.

While I was eating lunch in one of my favorite restaurants a while back, a man, his wife and their young son came in and were seated at the booth next to me. It was late in the afternoon, about 3pm, so the restaurant was pretty empty.

I was working away on my computer and wasn't paying too much attention to what was happening at their table. They had ordered drinks, which the waitress had delivered promptly. Evidently there was a problem with the water they had ordered. They wanted tap water, and this water had carbonation in it. They told the waitress. She seemed confused, and went off to check it out. She wasn't gone very long at all and the man at the table next to me started to get very agitated. He started complaining to his wife about how long it was taking her to get back with the water he and his son wanted.

She was trying to soothe him, but he kept getting more and more impatient. He got up several times and started walking towards the bar, but he kept turning around and coming back to their table. He said, "I'm going to go to the bar to get a stinkin' glass of water." His wife encouraged him to sit down. What touched me is that his little boy started looking very concerned. "Daddy, I don't want to get kicked out!"

They proceeded to have a little back and forth about daddy's behavior, and the fact that the little boy really wanted to stay and eat at this restaurant. I'm guessing this has happened before.

The man continued with his impatient behavior. He did go to the bar, and came back complaining that he couldn't find anyone to get him a glass of water. The waitress came back to the table, and he complained again. She said the manager was checking their 'line' and that it appeared the water and soda lines got crossed. They were fixing it. He grew more irritated.

Finally, the manager came over with two glasses of water. The man let the manager have it. He ranted about how unacceptable it was to not be able to get a glass of water in a restaurant.

This entire episode took no more than 3 or 4 minutes. The man was crazed because it took 3 or 4 minutes to get his water!

In watching this unfold, I realized the 'ugliness' of impatience. I don't do it at the level this guy was expressing it, but I certainly do it! It showed me what my own behavior would be if I ramped it up a bit. I obviously have no desire to look as foolish and unreasonable as the 'water man!!'

Looking at those around us as mirrors of ourselves is an interesting (and sometimes disturbing) message from the universe! Next time you are really annoyed (or amazed) at someone's behavior, or the next time you really admire someone's actions, look closely at yourself to see what might be reflecting back to you about yourself.

The guy at claim jumper who was so impatient for a glass of water... his son was afraid they were going to get kicked out.