Friday, January 18, 2008

Patience

I used to think I was a woman of little patience. As a matter of fact, “God give me patience” was a daily, if not hourly, mantra of mine ever since I gave birth to my two children (and acquired two new ones from a remarriage).

As life moved on, and those stressful incidents still occurred (does any parent get through the child-rearing years unscathed?), I became frustrated that all I seemed to do was ask for patience, and all that seemed to happen was that I encountered more episodes in my life that required, well, patience.

And then my “Eureka!” moment happened. How would I know that God was giving me patience unless it was tested? What I should have been praying for was, “God, please just let me sail through life without a worry.” NOT.

Let’s fast forward to my current position as a lead activities coach, working with developmentally disabled young adults. If ever there was a job where one’s patience would be tested, this is it. Although most of my individuals are adept at performing their duties and interacting appropriately in the community, there are occasions where one of them will not handle a situation in the best manner (for instance, this week on my birthday, one of my individuals pulled my hair and slapped me because I honked the horn of our minivan to prevent someone from backing into us). But in actuality, they are not the problem. It’s the general public that I need patience with.

Today, while I was food shopping for a senior citizen with four of my individuals, I encountered impatience at its finest—and it wasn’t expressed by me. After our last item was scanned at the register, I told the young cashier that we needed five packs of cigarettes—Kent 100’s, to be exact. The young man got his manager over, and she unlocked the cigarette cabinet. She perused up and down, across and diagonal, to locate even a single pack of our desired brand—but no luck. She explained that all they had were regular Kents (since I’ve never been a smoker, I had to ask her what the difference was). I inquired as to whether or not they could be returned if he was not happy with them. She told me she would check, and she’d be right back.

As I turned around, I noticed a woman had unloaded her groceries behind me. She looked at me in a somewhat annoyed manner, and I graciously told her that I was sorry for any delay I was causing. The cashier looked at me and said, “Your total is $41.50.” I politely told him that I was waiting to see if I could purchase five packs of cigarettes, and I couldn’t pay yet. With this, the woman behind me scowled, “Can’t you just pay for what’s there, and pay for the cigarettes later?”

(I felt my heart start racing, and my blood start pumping. She didn’t really just say that, did she?)

I politely told her that it was impossible for me to do that, being that the senior citizen we were shopping for only gave us one check. She scoffed at me and said, “Well, he shouldn’t be smoking, anyway!! Why don’t you just get him another brand??”

(Okay, did she just say that, too? My blood starts pounding in my ears to the beat of my now-dashing heart.)

I finally looked her in the eye and said, “Ma’am. If I was shopping for your father…and he was all alone in a studio apartment…and he gave me a list of things that he wanted, and I was responsible to purchase them for him…wouldn’t you be happy that someone cared enough to get exactly what he wrote on his list?”

With complete disgust, she exclaimed that everything was “ridiculous”, and she didn’t have time to wait there any longer. She abruptly started throwing her items back into her cart, and then backed out without looking, crashing into another woman who was unfortunate enough to stand in Checkout Aisle 9. She turned and looked at this other woman, snarling that she shouldn’t bother waiting there, and that I was taking too much time (happily, the other woman just shrugged her shoulders and gave her a blank stare). As she gave me one last, nasty look, I looked at her and said, “Ma’am, instead of becoming all upset over being in line at the supermarket, why don’t you look at it this way? Maybe—just maybe—you were meant to wait. Did you ever stop to think that because you had to wait behind me a few extra minutes, I may have prevented you from having a car accident later in the day?”

Well, that was about all she could take.

She said something about “rude”, and stormed off into the sea of carts waiting at Checkout Aisles 8, 7, and 5.

For a moment I stood there, astonished. Here I am, explaining to her that I’m shopping for a man who is unable to do it himself. With me, I have four individuals with special needs, two of whom are very obviously handicapped with Down ’s syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. And with all of that in consideration, this woman could not even spare three minutes out of her selfish time. Let’s be real; who doesn’t wait in line at the supermarket? Isn’t it a given?

Ironically, the second she stomped off in her rage, the manager came up to me and told me to purchase the cigarettes; they would have no problem returning them as long as we had our receipt. We paid for everything with the single check the man had given us, got our receipt, and walked toward the exit.

As we strolled down the exit aisle, I couldn’t help but wonder if our friend, Ms. Uptight, was in the midst of checking out (as the woman who was behind her at Checkout Aisle 9 was almost finished doing). Gleefully, I spotted her standing behind not one, but two people at Checkout Aisle 7. And better than that, she spotted us.

Walking through the parking lot, it occurred to me: Perhaps all those years of praying for patience had finally paid off. Although I may have gotten more instant gratification from throwing a bagel at her head and telling her to jump off a bridge, I held onto my dignity (and the dignity of the individuals I was with). I was proud that I kept it together. And in the end, as un-dignified as this may sound, I came out on top (in other words, I *WON*!)…

36 comments:

annie said...

I never pray for patience! I know what occurs to gain that patience... but God knew I needed a dose so here we are... Anyway, I cannot fathom the rudeness of people. It amazes me how some people just seem to have a total disconnect when it comes to other people. I had a few of those waiting in line experiences just yesterday and was in a hurry each place... the fabric store two elderly women were having 6 yards of several fabrics cut and then insisted on folding it themselves. It took forever and there was only one woman working on that. But it did become my turn and the lady smiled and apologized for being so busy. I had a nice conversation with her and quickly went on... in Kohls a lady was doing a credit app. I was with a friend I haven't seen for a long time so we opted to wait there and just visit until our turn. I think we are just in too big of a hurry. I think I just determined another goal for 2008, to slow down and listen to God... smell the air and enjoy people. You are a blessing to many.

Big Dave T said...

I know this story wasn't meant to be funny but the picture you painted of the rude woman still waiting in line--"And better than than, she spotted us"--was just so vivid that I can almost hear her grumbling to herself there as she's waiting. Too, too funny.

I'm going to probably show my prejudice here, but I'm thinking, "Well, she is in New York." Go ahead, feel free to smack me down for it.

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Annie,

I agree that most of us need to slow down, especially when there are just given moments in life where we will have to wait.

For instance, we have an expressway here in NY that fortunately, I don't have to travel on much. But when I leave to go upstate or to PA, I sometimes have to use this road, and there has NEVER been a time that I was on it where it didn't have traffic! Every traffic report in the morning will tell of this expressway's congestion woes. So when I am on it, I am prepared. What can you do? I can either sit in the traffic and listen to music or talk with my husband, or I can get upset and stress over something I can't control anyway!

I think your goal for 2008 is a good one...for everyone! And you, my dear, are a blessing to many as well. Thank you for a lovely complement.

Take good care,
Lisa

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Big Dave,

Well, quite honestly, I try to find the humor in everything, including this story! I did try to include some subtle humor in there...and yes, it was quite enjoyable to see the look on her face, I can not tell a lie!

As for us being in NY, well, I grew up here, and I'm really nice, hahaha...as a matter of fact, all of my friends are very caring people and go out of their way for everyone, and we are all from the metro area! I think some of the misunderstanding people have is that there is New York, and then there is New York City!! And you know what? The people aren't even so horrible there, either.

You really have to visit the area sometime, Dave! It's like the preconception that all mid-westerners walk around with a piece of wheat in their mouths!! But don't worry; no slaps are flying your way. We all really like you anyway! ;)

Take good care,
Lisa

Carine said...

Lisa, as I tell my children (even though they are adults), take your cue from the source. You give yourself a pat on the back and a hug from me! You've earned quite a few.

Loving Annie said...

Good Saturday afternoon Lisa.

That post made me laugh, I know it is serious, but at the same time, been there/felt like that - on both sides of the line !

I am anything but patient. Waiting in a grocery store line can be aggravating. Waiting for a clerk to price check an item and take a long time to confirm if it can be retuned or not can be aggravating.

It seems like there are never enough hours in the day. Or that I think it's a crisis if something doesn't get doesn't immediately instead of in ten minutes.

Being patient lowers my blood pressure. I'm going to have to keep working on it !

I would have liked to see you throw a bagel at her head :)

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Carine,

It's funny, sometimes I get more enjoyment out of being nice, because I know the person would feel SO much better if I was nasty back to them! So it might actually be a little obnoxious on my part.

I have to keep telling my kids to try to be patient...I think it's especially hard for their generation, as we live in such an "instant gratification" era...

Take good care,
Lisa

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Loving Annie,

Don't worry; some of it was definitely meant to be funny. I find that I really have a crazy, stressful life and if I don't find the humor in it, I could go in the direction of becoming severely depressed!

I know finding patience is hard, but I have really been trying to teach my kids the value of it (as I told Carine above, they don't have much)...because I feel it's so important to realize that we are where we are at any given time for a reason. If we're stuck in traffic, it could quite possibly be because it's all in the timing of a car that loses control in our near future that we will now miss. Or if we're stuck in line at the supermarket, perhaps it's because we wouldn't get to run into an old friend who was walking into the store as we were leaving. You get the idea!

I've tried to take on this way of thinking because I don't believe any of us can escape having our patience tested--so why fight it?

(of course, I do have four kids in my home--three of whom are teenagers--so yes, I do scream and lose my patience on occasion! Sometimes on many occasions!!)

Take good care,
Lisa

Shimmerrings said...

Wow, you did good! And I hope that rude person learned a very good lesson. Looks as though her impatience delayed her evern more, rather than helping her get out faster! She's probably a very spoiled person, who's used to bullying to get her way.

LZ Blogger said...

The problem with me... is that I always admire "patience" in someone else more than I do in myself. (Of course... it could be that I just see less of it when looking in that direction?) ~ jb///

annie said...

In response to your comment on my blog ...

No, I haven't written a lot about the details of what I described on the answers. I plan to someday, and I even hope to write a book about our experiences... I already have a title, "drowning in faith."

I don't really blame myself (most days :o) and I don't believe God was teaching me a lesson, I do believe that the unforgiveness I was harboring opened a door for satan to come into our lives in this way. If that makes sense?

Thank you. I wouldn't do the last three years over if I had the choice, but boy have I learned a lot!

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Shimmerings,

Unfortunately where I live, there are an awful lot of "spoiled" people who always expect that their demands are met. I really can't explain it...the only example I have of people who represent our area are the Lohans, and well, they sum it up pretty well (however, Debbie Gibson was also from the same area, and she never fell victim to that particular narcissistic lifestyle)!

But as I told Big Dave above, most of us here in the area (the more "middle class" section of the area--which is rapidly vanishing, but that's another post for another day) are very nice and caring. Most of the people I come in contact with every day have hearts in the right place and are very friendly. That's why a "bully" like this woman stuck out so obviously (and she wasn't young, either...I would guess she was in her early 60's...you would think she'd have learned some kind of life lessons already)!

Take good care,
Lisa

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Jerry,

I was not born a patient person in every area, and there are many times when I "lose" it! But in recent years, I have started a different thought process. I have too much stress in my life to get in a snit about the "little things", like waiting in a line at the store--there's nowhere I have to be where it's that imperative that I'm not late, and if there is and I AM late, it's my own fault for not leaving earlier! Because you just never know when you will get stuck on a line, in traffic, etc.

As for me personally, I love waiting on line in the supermarket--I can catch up on all the trash by reading the magazines that I don't want to waste money on!!

Take good care,
Lisa

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Annie,

You know, several years ago, I would not have thought that made sense, but the more I live and learn, the more I see that evil exists just as strongly as good.

Look at drugs, for example--I'm pretty sure it was my mom who called them the "devil's tool"--and you know what? I believe it. Look at Hollywood--if there was ever a "devil's playground", wow, I'm sure that would be it!

I have had someone to forgive for a long time now, and I say I forgive them a lot, but sometimes I'm not sure if I really have, if THAT makes sense. I think God knows I WANT to, so perhaps that counts for something...

I think your book title is awesome. I hope you decide to write it soon, in the near future. You would be giving inspiration to so many!

Take good care,
Lisa

Shimmerrings said...

Patience is a virtue, for sure... and one that some of us (like me) have to learn, it doesn't come naturally for me. The last time I had a confrontation in a grocery store, I was doing pretty good, staying calm. It was my son who was losing it. It was a real scene, with people from all the other registers looking at us, and I just wanted to crawl in a hole. In the end, the store manager apologized to me (the woman threatened to cut us with her knife, she musta been from Chicago, lol) ... but, the woman was 'of color'... so, when we left the store, people (of color) were staring at me, as if I had done something terrible against their race. It was a real shock, to see those really ordinarily good natured, down home people pre-judging me that way, just because someone of their color (who was obnoxious, loud, and out of control) had started a scene. They automatically assumed the wrong thing (the on-lookers) and thought I had offended their race. My son certainly didn't help matters. Instead of ignoring the woman, liked I asked (no, pleaded, lol)he went into her mode, and was ready to fight. Again, I was embarrassed. I didn't raise my son to fight, like that, and I was totally shocked to have seen him go nuts like that. What an eye-opener.

simply me said...

Each year, each day....I come across rudeness and lack of patience everywhere around me. Long ago, being married to someone with no patience, I took a vow that I would stand on check out lines with dignity and kindness.
I can manage this,but now I have to have more patience in hearing people just go on and on and on and on....like my new spouse LOL.

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Shimmerings,

I have children who weren't raised like that also, but can have a temper as well. I guess when I was young, I probably had less patience than I do now...maybe that's how it is with our kids!

I would have felt exactly like you did in your situation. Could it be because the racial situation is a little more tense down south? Where I'm from, there doesn't seem to be as much "racial" tension, or maybe I'm just naive. But I would feel horrible also if I thought that people felt that I offended them when I didn't!

I work with people of all different colors, and I like it that way. One time, I went to meet a Jamaican co-worker at a Jamaican/Chinese restaurant (we have it ALL up here!) in her town. I was indeed the ONLY white person in the whole, entire restaurant...it was pretty hilarious...and I will say, the waiter was VERY patient with me as I tried to have him explain what all the different Jamaican dishes were (I had never had that sort of food before)! There might have been some "stares" at first, but no one really seemed to care (I certainly didn't, and the food was awesome)!

I had a great time that night. I hate to sound like Miss America, but I really do wish people could be peaceful with each other, no matter what color they are. What does it really matter, anyway? We all bleed red when we're cut.

Take good care,
Lisa

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Simply Me,

Honey, your spouse isn't so "new" anymore!! I can't believe it's been three years already. Well, almost. Or is it almost four??

I personally love when he goes on and on and on, on, and on...(and "doesn't stop until the break of dawn"...sorry, couldn't help myself)! But then again, I'm not married to him. But you have the patience of a saint, and I think you handle him just perfectly!

At least he makes sense when he goes on and on. Mine only goes on and on when he's had a few too many, and he talks about the oddest things. Not "Allen"-odd, like bee-keeping or cheese-making...but "Allan"-odd, like how much dog poop he picked up that day.

You know what, they are BOTH odd!

xoxo

Lady Di Tn said...

I saw your comments on lazy blogger and just had to see who would call themselves dust bunny. I thought the name was cute and after reading a couple of your blogs. I think as the kids say YOU ROCK. Your self control is amazing and the acts of kindness puts jewels in your crown.
Take care and Peace be with you.

Paul said...

I guess you could say that keeping your cool is not only virtuous but tends to end up with the other person looking like the fool!

It's strategic as well as good, lol...

Kacey said...

Lord, give me patience and give it to me right now!!! I think you won, Lisa! I'd love to meet you -- what a neat kid you are. I betcha your clients love you to pieces.

Loving Annie said...

Just came by on Friday the 25th to say hello, and see how you are doing, Lisa ! Hope that all is well, and that you have a good weekend !

Betty said...

Dear Dust-bunny,

Well, this reminds me of one of the traffic jams I was in this week. I had just picked up my son from latchkey and ordered a pizza from a restaurant 15 minutes away. Huh! Something went terribly wrong- we never did manage to get on the freeway/parking lot, and 45 minutes into the snale's paced drive, as the child started losing it at the top of his lungs, I remembered all the other horrible traffic situation I'd been in, and realized that I did in fact eventually make it home from each one. At the time, getting home seemed an impossible dream. But just telling myself that I'd gotten home all the other times somehow comforted me. (And I told myself that the accident that must have caused the snarl was one that I was grateful to not be involved in, and I prayed for the unfortunates who were.)

And yes, we made it home one more time, pizza in tow.

Patiently yours,
Betty

Pixilated said...

Hi Lisa, You'll have to guess who this is --- but you will be able to figure it out when you check over at my new blog. This one is for me, so I can write about things that my family doesn't like. I will still have the regular old oven, though.

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Lady Di Tin,

Wow, thank you so much for the complement! I have been trying to get over to your site, but I'll have to try to go through LZ's because my comments box is not expanding when I click on your name and I can't see your internet address! I would love to visit your blog, and hopefully will be able to do that today.

Take good care,
Lisa

PS...I am definitely a "dust bunny"...my family would vouch...I love everything clean, but I don't obsess over cleaning...so I do what I can, when I can. This has allowed some dust bunnies to come and visit, and dang it, they just won't go home.

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Paul,

How right you are! I am trying to teach my pit bull of a daughter right now to realize that if she remains calm and patient, she will actually be the one in control of her negative situations! I admit, I get some kind of high when I see someone freak out and I can keep my cool! Is that bad??

Take good care,
Lisa

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Kacey,

I would love to meet you, too! You are the coolest!!

As for my guys, yes, they do love me and I love them, too...unfortunately, I'm not sure how much longer I can continue to stay in this position, because our hub site has been neglected by the company for some time now (as a lot of the hub sites are...we are desperate for staff--GOOD staff, as in people who actually want to be there and work--and they continue to lump the positions in one giant ad that they put under "health care" in the paper. Well, our hub sites are NOT health care related, we are more educational...and personally, if I was looking for a job, I would NEVER look under health care, as I have no training in that area, and all one needs to work at a hub site is a high school diploma and a clean license)! So the stress has been wearing on me, because I've been doing three jobs ever since I came back in November (my job, the job I was promoted from and the promotion I had originally turned down, because the woman who took the position is a trainer and is hardly ever there). So I stayed home today because I had chest pains last night and a splitting headache when I woke up (I do know it's not my heart, but my stomach...I've dealt with this before, and it's something I can make better, but stress is what causes it and unless I take an office position somewhere else in the company, it will never get better).

So it's not my guys that stress me at all...it's the employees and the management!! And it's really sad, because it's such a great job otherwise. But this is the way the company chooses to handle it...by ignoring it...so it will never get better. And yes, I've written some great letters and have even been asked to sit on a committee that helps to make things better for the employees...but unfortunately, I think that committee is there just to make us THINK that we're being heard, because they don't act on much of anything that makes any sense.

So wow, Kacey...sorry I loaded all that on you, hahaha...I guess I needed to vent!

Take good care,
Lisa

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Loving Annie,

So sorry I've been missing again recently...I promise to come over and visit you and everyone else very soon! Hope all is well on your end!

Take good care,
Lisa

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Betty,

See how patience and gratitude really do help make everything seem better? I totally believe that to be true. You are a very smart woman...you knew that the situation was not forever and that it would pass, just as it had come. Kudos to you!! You are teaching your son a valuable lesson.

Take good care,
Lisa

Pixilated said...

Hi Lisa --- Sorry the name didn't work, but I don't know how to send a link. This is the address:
http://barelypixilated.blogspot.com
Does that do it?

A Who said...

Oh MY Gosh Lisa! I am so proud of you. I wouldn't have been able to say something so wise and eloquent.

Man -- you are one cool-headed cucumber!!! (are you sure you're one of de family?

Love you,
Lisa

Bravo!

A Who said...

It looks like I was signing off as you -- oops.

Meant it like this: I love you, Lisa,

Love,
A Who

Dust-bunny said...

Dear Pixi,

I got it! Thank you very much, and I'll see you over there soon!

Take good care,
Lisa

Dust-bunny said...

My Dear Who,

Hahahaha...I know, it does sort of ring untrue to the rest of the clan, doesn't it? I'm actually very much like my Aunt Terry...kind of disorganized, very welcoming and totally able to ignore the stupid people who cross my path (well...most of them, anyway)! But the Italian temper DOES rear its ugly head every once in a while, trust me...

...and I love you, too!!

Lisa

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