Have Patience and Slow Down

Welcome to Stuff I Learned Yesterday. My name is Mark Des Cotes, I started my Christmas Shopping this week, which is incredibly early for me, and I believe if you aren’t learning, you aren’t living. In today’s episode of Stuff I Learned Yesterday I talk about patience or lack thereof.

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Today’s Fun Fact of the Day:

Isaac Asimov is the only author to have his works published in all ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System. Generalities, Philosophy, Religion, Social Sciences, Languages, Pure Sciences, Applied Sciences & Technology, Arts, Literature and History & Geography. Although technically he’s only published books in 9 of them. In the Philosophy category his contribution is a forward in the book The Humanist Way.

Here’s What I leaned yesterday.

OK, I’m going to get on a soapbox here. I’m fed up with the lack of patience in the world. Why does everybody have to be in such a rush?

When did it become normal to get honked at, flipped the bird at or plain outright cursed at, just for driving the posted speed limit? I’m no saint. I often drive 10 to 15 kilometres over the speed limit and yet I’m still passed by more cars than ones that I pass myself. What is so important that people need to get to so fast?

What about the grocery store? I see people constantly juggling from one checkout line to the next trying to see which one moves faster or comparing the items in the carts ahead of them so they can shave 60 seconds off their time in line. Does that extra minute really make that much of a difference?

How about sporting events? Watch any football, basketball or hockey game on TV and guaranteed during the last two to three minutes of the game, you’ll see people leaving the stands. Especially if the home team is loosing. Tickets to those games are expensive. Don’t they want to get their money’s worth? Is beating the crowd really that important to them that they’ll stop supporting their team just to get out faster?

When did it become normal to be in a rush all the time? You can’t even go for a casual weekend drive anymore without someone reminding you of how slow you’re going.

People really need to relearn what it means to have patience.

I had to return something at an Ikea store a couple of weeks ago. I pulled number 93 from the ticket machine when I got there, and when I looked up I saw that they were serving number 80. They had four tellers open so I thought great, only three people ahead of me, maybe 5 minutes per person. I should be out of there in 15-20 minutes.

I then proceeded to watch the people arriving after me taking their tickets from the machine. Most of them showed frustration when they saw their number. A few of them had no patience whatsoever and just decided to leave instead of waiting.

Really? This is Ikea, and on a weekend, did they really think they would be the only ones with something to return? If they didn’t have the patience to wait in line why did they even bother going in the first place? And do they realize that the time it takes them to drive back home and come back some other time, is probably longer than the time they would have spent in line had they waited.

What’s with the lack of patience.

Sorry, I got really frustrated this past weekend, which is what got me thinking about this topic.

My daughter Joelle is one of 11 girls on a competitive volleyball team. This past weekend her club hosted the first tournament of the season. Because of the number of teams registered they had to split the tournament between two locations. Three courts at a city sporting facility and another court at a nearby high school.

The president of the club asked the parents of the eleven girls if we would be willing to stay for a bit after our daughters last game to help put things away and clean up. They needed help at both locations. She told us that if everything ran on schedule we should expect to be done by 6pm.

Our team’s final game of the day was at the high school. Due to misreading the standings, our opponent thought they were done all their games and had already left. By the time someone reached them they were already an hour in to their four hour drive home and they decided not to turn around. So our team won the game by forfeit.

At this point a few of the girls left with their parents.

Joelle and the remaining girls fooled around on the court for about 20 minutes before we started taking down the nets and cleaning up the gym. It didn’t take us long to clean things up so we packed up and headed to the sports facility to help out there.

When we arrived the final gold medal game of the tournament was just starting. We finished 5th BTW. When they saw this a few of the parents decided to take their daughters and leave instead of waiting around. By the time the game ended and the medals were handed out, Kim and myself, along with the parents of one other girl where the only ones left to help.

Graciously, some of the parents from the visiting teams saw us stacking chairs and moving tables and offered to help. When all was done the president of the club came to thank us. She looked at her watch and commented on how smoothly everything had gone. It was 5:58pm. Two minutes shy of the time she had told us we would be there to.

So why hadn’t any of the other parents stayed to help? It’s not like we were being asked to stay longer than we had been told we’d need to be there. Yes, we had been there since 8am but so had everyone else, including the teams visiting from other cities that still had to travel home.

I guess those who left were in a rush to get somewhere. Although I don’t know why. We were told we would be there until 6pm after all. All I can figure is they were being selfish and didn’t have the patience to wait around for the final game to be over.

You know, if it was just one or two families it may have gone unnoticed. But when nine out of the eleven families are nowhere to be seen, it stands out. And I’m sure I’m not the only one that noticed.

Here’s what I learned.

Have patience. Slow down!

Our world has become one where the convenience of fast food has trumped a home cooked meal and a family sit down is reserved for special occasions.

Where the most important selling feature on a new car is how fast it can reach 100.

Where the computers we raved about last year now seems frustratingly slow.

When you hear a song you like. You can have it instantly downloaded to your phone within seconds.

Where you can order just about anything you want and have it in your hands the next day.

Even our entertainment is faster. We now have services that deliver entire television seasons in one big chunk so we don’t have to wait week after week to know what’s happing in our program.

All these things are designed to help us by making our lives simpler. In theory they are supposed to free up our time. But they don’t. Instead they’ve taught us to expect everything much more rapidly than ever before and to get frustrated when we have to wait.

Do you feel like you have more time on your hands now than you did say, five years ago? Me neither. All these things are stealing our patience.

I’m not denying progress. Technology today is wonderful and I imagine that tomorrow’s will be a hundred times better.

I’m just hoping that the instant gratitude we’re coming to expect doesn’t cost us the patience I’ve been talking about.

I mean, has life become so rushed that you can’t wait around for a volleyball game to finish in order to lend a helping hand?

OK, I’m stepping off my soapbox.

I’m Mark Des Cotes and this has been Stuff I Learned Yesterday.

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