“Wait Training”

Lately whenever a service provider takes longer than what seems like 30 seconds to get to me she apologizes for making me wait. Since I have usually been oblivious to any inconvenience, it makes me wonder why the apology seems necessary. Similarly if when I pull forward as a light turns green in the time it takes me to put pressure on the gas pedal the person behind me is honking his horn. Apparently I am supposed to be ready in an instant to tear off from the stop. ( I don’t do that because so many people are running stop lights lately that I have to make sure no one is racing through.)

I think that a many people in American society have never had any “wait training.” Growing up, I had numerous occasions to learn to wait. Waiting was considered a virtue best taught through numberless opportunities to practice it. A phrase much used in connection with this schooling was “hold your horses.”

Dinner was at a set time. The time was set by my mother, not by the four of us. “Dinner will be ready when it is ready” was the clue that we were going to have another chance to learn to wait. As the oldest I was constantly told to “wait for your brother” or “wait for your sister.” This was not negotiable nor was any other opportunity to wait. “Don’t rush me.” “Keep your britches on.” More lessons.

Charlie and I lived in a house with one bathroom and three girls who needed to use it. This was graduate level training, particularly for Charlie! “I’ll be out in a minute” rarely had any meaning when it was uttered by a teen age girl. Of course that same girl could be heard to moan “Let me in–I’m dying out here.”

As I look at the picture of my grumpy self shown above, I admit that I wasn’t happy about having to wait. But I didn’t complain. “Complaining won’t make any difference!”

42 thoughts on ““Wait Training”

  1. Lovely blast from the past when waiting did not seem excruciating. Or even painful. Unless it was a bike i wanted, banana seat of course.

    I enjoyed this post so much. I’ve popped in and out for years and I’m wondering: Is it okay to mention that the writer i first met years ago, now eclipses the writer today. Oh goodness. I might cry lol. I am so in it for other writer’s success, too. So grateful to have been along on the journey. xo

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  2. You hit the nail on the head here. Patience seems to have disappeared. Remember when we had to actually take the time to look up a word in a dictionary, or wait until the library opened to get a research book. We had to wait for a television program to be aired and not find just about everything on demand. We had to wait for our mother, sister, friend, to get home to ask a question. Now we just text them. We’d order something from a catalogue and get it in six to eight weeks.
    We do indeed need more wait training!

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    1. I was thinking about that the other day when reading a poem with a word I didn’t know. I could find its meaning without leaving my chair! What a change. In this case a good one I guess. Still we need practice to get through less pleasant waiting times.

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  3. I remember all those sayings Elizabeth! They were a part of my childhood too.
    And I can relate to only one bathroom in the house with three teenage girls which I went through twice, first time with my daughters & then when Steve & I got married with his three teenage girls! Yes, I married a man with three teenage girls! Great fun! 😀
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

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    1. Especially with cameras. I remember when Polaroids came out and we were so excited to be able to see the photo and not have to wait for the film to be developed. I do like knowing quickly if I have missed a good image.

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  4. Ambrose Bierce defined patience as “a minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.” All I can say is that America would do well to have more patience and less patients. .

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  5. I couldn’t tell you were grumpy from the photo. I didn’t have younger siblings, but I did have plenty of opportunities to wait everywhere — home, church, and school. Now I have a cell phone to fill up all the waiting minutes.

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  6. Learning to wait is a skill that people should learn at a young age. It comes with the territory. Sure, it’s annoying, but griping about it doesn’t make it better. What’s the old saying? “Good things happen to those who wait.”

    I once brought my son in for a sports physical to the doctor. After close to an hour, he had yet to emerge, and I started imagining all sorts of things. It turned out they had completely forgotten about him, and he was sitting in a room by himself all that time.

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  7. We live in a world of immediate gratification where the art of waiting patiently has been lost. Let’s hope we come full circle and it is again valued in society.

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  8. Love this! Yes, modern life is all about speed… though I have to say that in very, very general terms, living in London was a lot more hectic than living in Cumbria. Even now when I go back to London I find myself falling back into to the Londoner’s way of overtaking everyone when walking anywhere, running up the escalators at tube stations, etc.

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  9. I’ve often though that kids need to learn to cope with boredom. I remember Sunday School, school assemblies, news on TV, having to wait after meals before we could ‘get down’ from the table… Children today are fed constantly with activities and toys to stop them becoming bored. And then they get mobile phones…
    Boredom is when ideas pop up. Often I found to solutions to work problems while walking the dogs at 5.30 am, when my brain wasn’t engaged in DOING something. I need to relearn that mindlessness, rather than thinking about what I’m going to do when I get home.

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  10. At one place I worked I heard a tale about how young new staff in the drawing office in the past would be sent to another department and told to tell manager they had come for a long stand. The manager would tell them to “wait over there” at the side of the room and continue to work at his desk. When the youngster eventually plucked up courage to ask again he (rarely she) would be told: “All right you’ve had your long stand you can go back to the drawing office now”.

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  11. Being English, waiting patiently is in my DNA. England is the spiritual home of the ‘orderly queue’, whether at a bus stop, supermarket checkout, or at a Post Office. Nobody complains, as to do so is considered to be the height of bad manners. Fortunately, that has not changed during my lifetime, and the latest young generation seems to have that same attitude bred into them.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  12. ‘Wait training’, what a great way to phrase it. And you described it perfectly. Living with girls and 1 bath. Had to be tough (and strong). Screw the guy behind you at the light. More and more people are jamming through the yellow ( almost red and sometimes red). It’s good to take that extra look. Nice post.

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  13. When I was in the military, the most frequently heard phrase was “hurry up and wait”. I have noticed people panicking at the grocery store at the checkout. If I have fewer things to purchase they feel apologetic and become uncomfortable when I refuse their generous offer to move ahead of them in the line. “We all hurry too much” I respond. They look at me in disbelief.

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    1. It especially seems the case when they feel they need to put televisions in every waiting room so people won’t get annoyed. I get annoyed by all the televisions!

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  14. Hi Elizabeth, I also had to learn to wait when I was a girl. My mom was at home with two babies and my house was much to far to walk to from school. I finished school at 2pm and often waited for my dad until 5pm on the street outside the school. I used to write descriptive passages or read. I never complained either.

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