Sunday, November 23, 2008

Patience is a Virtue; I Wish You'd Hurry Up And Learn That.

Do I Try Your Patience with a Gratuitous Artsy Photo That Has Nothing To Do With Patience? Hummmmmmm.

To me, patience is like a big can of tomato juice. At first, everybody agrees that it's a great idea to have a lot of it, and everyone admires the generous person pouring it out for others, for being generally "good" and "benevolent." Then it starts to get a little irritating. The can starts oxidizing at the top, so the patience starts to taste a little "off." Is this sincerity and excessive tolerance for real? The impatient begin to get suspicious, a little irritated, but if he or she SAYS anything, it only emphasize the "goodness" of the patient person and the impatience of the one inquiring. Oh, the patience keeps coming, but near the end gets thick and granular, covering those who want more action, less talk. Is it any wonder the impatient snap? Do you see that it is actually the overly-patient people that drive others to BE impatient in the first place?

I've been thinking about patience a lot lately. (Well, not too much because I lose patience with thinking about it too much.) Quick, which are you patient or impatient? Hurry up and choose! Well, which one are you?

If you had trouble choosing between the two, you have helped to make my point: I think part of the problem may be the vocabulary we are forced to deal with. Since there are only two adjectives to work with, people choose one and then attempt to live up to or (down to) the expectations that come with that label. Most likely, they will say one or the other and then take a great deal of time to explain that they are patient with this, impatient with that, that there is situational patience, etc, etc., blah, blah, blah. It just becomes too much, too much!

In my opinion, we need a term for people who are neither excessively patient, nor impatient. My suggestion at the moment is is Semi-Patient. This term does not thrill me, as I think it lacks pizazz and I am all about pizazz, but when we review use of semi- as it is used in other areas will also see how this could be the perfect definition for people who fall in the middle of this spectrum.

For example,

High Gloss (Extremely Patient Person) : Shiny Surface, Good for use in the kitchen. Can get slick and emit irritating glare. Certainly NOT for every situation.

Matte (Impatient Person): Flat, easily marred. Takes special care to maintain. Lacks durability.
Semi-Gloss (Semi-Patient Person): Good for everyday use. Very adaptable, works in most situations.


Comma (Overly Patient): Generally weak. Let's things go on and on without stopping. Often misused.

Period (Impatient): Stops thoughts prematurely. Terminal mark. Decides quickly when things are over. Can produce short, choppy thoughts.

Semicolon (Semi-Patient): Takes best aspects of both definitive period and permissive comma. Combines thoughts that are short and closely related in thought in smooth, logical way.

And Finally,


Milk Chocolate (Overly Patient): Excessively sweet but sometimes bland. Needs other flavors to work well.

Dark Chocolate (Impatient): Sometimes bitter, overpowers other flavors.

Semi-Sweet (Semi-Patient): Good in most mixtures. Sweet, but not too sweet. Substantial, but not overpowering. Works well with nuts or no nuts.

By my calculations, over 9000 hours per week are lost by the overly-patient trying to demonstrate their goodness and by people who are afraid to speak up because they will be seen as impatient. However, NOW we can re-classify ourselves as Semi-Patient and no longer be bound by the constrictions of the English language.

When that meeting drags on and on and you interrupt the bore at the front of the room, it's OK. You are not impatient, you are Semi-Patient and that's VERY different.

When that person in the line ahead of you at the Big Box Store dawdles and does not prepare a form of payment in a timely manner, you can rest assured, your reaction is not because you are impatient. You are, instead perfectly justified because you are Semi-Patient and (repeat after me) "That's OK!"

Medical experts will confirm that an overly-patient patient will not get well soon, and an impatient patient may be the patient who wears down everyone's patience, even the patient's patient care-giver. So you see, it's better to be a Semi-Patient patient.

Let's all save that impatience energy for ending world hunger, bringing peace to war-torn countries. Let's have no tolerance for injustice in our society.

Let's celebrate the overly-patient people in our society for their ability to stand and sort the socks at the bottom of the laundry basket when the rest of us have moved on.

The rest of you, come out, come out wherever you are. You now have more than two pre-set stations on Patience Radio Dial. Claim proudly your status as Semi-Patient! Please help me in my quest to institute this new term into the English language. I figure if we all work on this very hard we could get it done in two weeks top! Let's go! No dawdling! I want all hands on deck! Chop-Chop! Let's go, People! Spread the Word!

Oh, and thank you all for your patience and attention to this matter.


Karen Llata said...

Whew...this was a long one. I didn't have the patience to read it all. You know me, I prefer magazines to books. Let me know how it ends when I see you. ;)

Texas Don said...

1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.
3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.

I particularly like definition #2 and the concept of patience (suppressed restlessness) when confronted with delay. Delays can really push my buttons. A poorly thought through pedestrian crosswalk light was recently added near an intersection that I frequent. Not long after, I became annoyed when the new light caused traffic to back up into the intersection. Yes, that simple flashing red light at that crosswalk brought out my annoyance, my impatience with the delay. The red light at the crosswalk was flashing. No one was in the crosswalk, yet the light was flashing red (have I mentioned that the light was flashing, flashing, flashing?), and the car in front of me could not decide if it was ok to proceed after stopping, or if the light needed to change to green before proceeding. My fists hit the steering wheel. My wife coached me on the importance of not honking in this particular situation. The light eventually turned green, leaving me with a question about what a flashing red light really means in such a situation. I don’t easily get over these fits of impatience. I have since attempted looking for appropriate guidance in the DVM Manual, but I lost patience during the download. A side note, just weeks after being installed, the new crosswalk light, the source of my annoyance has been removed. I am glad I could patiently wait for the traffic engineers to correct their mistake. At the same time, am I just a bit annoyed that I can no longer complain about the troublesome traffic light?

Bossy Betty said...

Dear Texas Don,

I am glad you came to me for this. As you know, I recently had trouble maintaining my composure while standing behind a dullard at Costco. However, my concern is (and what makes me a tad bit better than you) that you grew impatient at an inanimate object. That flashing light might have been a message to you from the universe that you need to slow down and really think your life and your place in the world. The good news is that currently you meet all the criteria for a Semi-Patient Person, but MAY be working your way towards Impatient. You don't want to become that bitter chocolate left on the sweetsie tray next to the hard peppermint candy, do you? My advice is that you call the traffic department and ask for that light to be re-installed. You need it and you'll be a better man for it. Let's get on that now. No dawdling!