“I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh, I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.”
A No. 1 Country hit song by Alabama (1992)
Once on a job application one of the questions was: “Describe your greatest weakness.” Without hesitation, I submitted a three-word response: Impatience-Impatience-Impatience. Yes, for reasons I’ve never quite completely understood, I’m convinced if there was a Pulitzer Prize for “Impatience” I would undoubtedly be the uncontested winner.
Standing in line at a supermarket checkout always frays my impatient nerves. If I invite a friend to lunch and he arrives late, I am far less than happy. I also know I drive too fast — always.
Sitting on an airplane as it taxis and awaits takeoff just makes me anxious and irritable. If I’m placed on hold a bit too long while I’m on a telephone call, I’m likely, and rudely, to hang up. It just seems the longer I must wait, the more and more impatient I become.
Unquestionably, if I had a dollar for every time my wife has described me as “the most impatient person she has ever known,” I’d be at the top of the tax bracket. Besides, after all these years she knows how I’ll respond — “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I just don’t have time for patience.”
There’s simply no question about it. I am the one that the South African physician, Dr. M. Mokhonoana, was talking about when he described someone as one degree of impatience away from expecting shade from a seed.
Why I’m consumed with this particular character defect (is that what it is?) has always been a mystery to me. My mom frequently admonished me about it and agreed with my wife about my lack of tolerance for waiting.
Once when trying to make me feel guilty about my being disgruntled and cranky after having to wait a long time for something or other, my mother explained how often we are given no choice but to wait because there are situations where people spend hours, days and even weeks waiting.
She explained how her mother, my grandmother, waited for several months before she learned that one of her sons missing in action during World War II in Northern Africa was finally found alive and well in a military hospital.
Then she related the story about how when I was a baby, I had suffered double pneumonia and she waited several agonizing days until doctors confirmed whether I would live or die. Unfortunately, her true tales and counseling didn’t do much to ease my hastiness.
So, there you have it — a true confession about my very own worst quality. And even though I’ve often pondered why I am so afflicted, I’ve never been able to come up with a credible explanation. Instead, I’ve concluded that those of us who are perceived as having patience are just exceptionally good at hiding their impatience. I am not.
So, let me just say, I’m in a hurry to get this done.