I have been reflecting on the demand for immediacy in today’s American culture. You can get “instant credit,” “priority boarding” on planes, “Minute Clinic” for a virus, and “12 items or less” at the grocery store. It is clear that people are expected to dislike waiting and feel that they should not be asked to wait.
I realize that in my growing up years and through most of my adult life, waiting was necessary for many occasions. I built up my “waiting” skill. I remember, among others:
Waiting for a long distance phone call to be put through by the operator.
Waiting from September to April to find out if I had gotten into college.
Waiting to find out if I was pregnant until I thought I was three months along.
Waiting to find out if my baby was a girl or a boy.
Waiting for labor to begin.
Waiting for the bank to open Monday morning if I ran out of cash on the weekend.
Waiting for the store to open Monday if I ran out of needed groceries on a Sunday.
Waiting for a credit application to be approved before I could make a purchase.
Each one of these is no longer necessary. I can dial long distance myself. Students can check on line to see if they have been accepted to college. In home tests allow women to find out if they are pregnant almost immediately. People have to opt out of knowing the sex of their baby before birth. Women schedule inductions for delivery. ATM machines mean money is always available. Stores are open every day. The last time I opened an account it took five minutes at a machine inside the store.
We have been led to expect, at least in the U.S., that we can have what we want when we want it. It has led to the atrophy of waiting muscles in us all.