The arrow turned green. She sat. I waited.
She still sat. I tapped my horn with a quick, polite burst.
Still she sat. I honked.
She still didn’t go.
I laid on the horn as the arrow turned yellow.
Finally, just as the light turned red, she proceeded through the intersection, leaving me to wait for the next arrow.
Was it a big deal? No.
Did it bug me? Yes.
Will it happen again. Absolutely.
As the chatty driver pulled away, I found myself irritated at her, and the whole lot of those who are distracted by their phones when they are supposed to be driving. Not long ago, my EC and I were driving down the freeway, and saw a guy with his laptop somehow mounted to his steering wheel, and he was TYPING as he drove.
I have honked my horn more often in the past year than I have in the whole time I have been driving. The culprit is almost always someone texting, or dialing their cellphone.
I am not the most patient guy in the world. Sometimes, I amaze myself, and others, with the calm reserve of patient strength that I can display. Other times, I have a ridiculously sensitive hair-trigger.
Patience is one of my strengths, and one of my weaknesses. It all depends on the issue at hand. I seem to have trouble being patient with the little things – like distracted drivers – rather than the big things – like waiting on the Lord to answer a prayer.
As I thought about the driver, it dawned on me that I need to work on my short-term-irritant patience. I need to learn to not worry about the little inconveniences that interrupt what should be a smoother flow of life. And I need to learn it soon. Why?
It is going to get worse. Much worse.
Let me repeat that – it is going to get worse.
Technology – It seems that everyone uses their phones while driving, and it is only going to get worse. Check out these stats:
At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. (Link)
A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving. (link) (And I figure 50% that say they don’t use their phones while driving are lying about it.)
It looks like I will need to just be more patient with others on the road – especially really stupid people on the road.
And the road isn’t the only place that will require that I work on my patience.
You know that sweet elderly lady with 48 coupons in line ahead of you in the express lane at the supermarket? That could be you in a few years. (Or could be now!)
That old man who is walking at .01 mph on the sidewalk in front of you? That could very well be me in a few years time.
I am at the tail end of the Baby Boom, and there are a LOT of us. Right now there are 35 million people over 65 years old in the US. By 2030, it will DOUBLE. That’s a lot of old people – and I plan on being one of them. (link) So, that old guy blocking the aisle and staring into space at Walmart? That could very well be me – so cut me some slack.
When I am old, I don’t expect to move as quickly, or need to move as quickly. And if there are 70 million more just like me, I had better get my patience on now.
More often than not, when I call a bank, or tech support, I get routed to a call center outside the US. Increasingly, the accents make for diminished communication. It is frustrating to try and solve a problem when both parties are having a hard time understanding each other.
The language barriers are not just on the phone. Census data collected in 2011 show that of the 60 million people living in the US that speak a language other than English in their homes, a quarter of them don’t speak English “well” or at all. That is 15 million people that a lot of us can’t communicate with. (Thankfully, I speak Spanish, so for me, it cuts it way down.)
As the demographic gradually shift in the USA, my ability to be patient with those that cannot communicate in English needs to adjust as well.
Marijuana is all the rage. Several states have now legalized pot, and that trend will eventually sweep the country. That means we get to deal with more stoned, stupid, or cognitively impaired people on a regular basis.
Studies have shown that pot smokers have impaired memories, driving skills, learning ability, motor skills, and even lower IQ scores. (link) If the stuff is legalized, there will be a lot more of these “impaired” folks in our lives.
So when my young, happy waiter at a restaurant in Denver forgets my order and brings me something I never ordered, I just need to patiently send it back, sigh, and embrace my inner Zen Master.
One of the key things about Social Media is that it serves as a great equalizer. Any idiot can start a blog. (I am proof of that.) Anyone can tweet, or post things on Facebook, Instagram, etc.
For the most part, we can all say anything we want to say on Social Media, and that is a wonderful thing.
It is also a terrible thing.
To be heard on Social Media, you don’t have to be right, accurate, or kind. You can spout nonsense, hate, lies or whatever you desire. I have seen people post the most beautiful, inspiriting, thought-provoking stuff online. I have also seen people post the most shrill, hateful, stupid stuff I have ever seen.
The megaphone of Social Media is a great blessing to those seeking goodness and truth. It is also a curse as hate, ignorance and pop culture are taken to new, viral heights.
And that is not going to change. It will probably get worse. So it looks like I need to be more patient with those who have different views than I do. I need to be a better listener, a better unfriend-er, and a better delete-er.
What I need to avoid is getting emotionally caught up in the “contention du jour” and patiently move through the digital world, trying my best to be “in” it, but not “of” it.
I need to develop the art of patience for today, but even more for tomorrow –
Because I’m gonna need it.
“God grant me patience – but hurry!”