“I’m really having a hard time with patience lately,” my friend said.
“It started with my air conditioner breaking during the hottest week of the year. I called the service place. They were swamped, but they promised to get someone out by the end of the day. “I said I had to leave to teach a class. ‘Do you want me to have someone at the house to let the repairman in?’ ‘No,’ the guy says. ‘All he has to do is go in the backyard to fix it. He doesn’t need access to the house.’
“I leave to teach class, the first in a series I’m teaching at the community college. I had called and made arrangements for thirty chairs to be set up, two each at fifteen tables. I called again to make sure it was right. The guy assured me everything was fine. So I walk into my classroom and what do I see? Thirty chairs set up in a circle. No tables.
“I go to the office. I tell the guy I have to have fifteen tables. ‘Fifteen tables?’ he asked. He called for help. Two more guys came into the room. ‘Fifteen tables?’ they asked. Class was scheduled to begin in five minutes. Half an hour later, class began.
“On my way home, I had to pick up a prescription refill. I had called it in earlier. The automated voice told me my prescription would be ready in an hour. I go to the drive-through window at the pharmacy and the pharmacist says, ‘We’re out of that medicine. But the delivery truck should be here with it shortly. Can you come back in an hour?’
“I do errands and then return to the drive-through window. ‘The truck is here but it’s not unloaded yet. Can you come back in half an hour?’ I bite my tongue and go kill another half hour. When I return, she says, ‘Almost ready, dear. How about returning in fifteen minutes?’
“I finally got my prescription and went home. It was sweltering. I couldn’t wait to get in the house and cool down. But when I turn on the air conditioner, it’s still broken. I called the repair place. ‘We sent someone to fix it,’ the guy said. ‘But nobody was home to let him in.’
“I blew,” my friend said. “I couldn’t bite my tongue anymore. The guy says there’s nothing he can do about it now, it’s too late in the day. He offered to schedule an appointment for later in the week. I told him to forget it and slammed down the phone.
“Now I’m sitting here sweating, with no air conditioning, and no appointment to get it fixed. I thought I showed him,” she said. “But it occurred to me that I’m the one suffering.”
“I’m not very patient,” I’ve heard many people say, as though patience were a character trait we are either born with or without. “Patience is a virtue,” others say. I think patience is a necessity, if we want to give up our self-sabotaging ways.
Value: Whether we call it a trait or virtue, the value of patience is what we’ll explore this week.
From the book: 52 Weeks of Conscious Contact
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