On the Nature of Waiting

dreamstime_xs_22343826Waiting. There are proverbs. Good things come to those who wait. The best things in life are worth the wait. There are the olde tyme folk sayings. A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains. There are the New Age self-help slogans. Life is the matter of waiting for the right moment. The men and women who spoke and shared these words clearly had good intentions, clearly tried their best, but clearly led the most sheltered of lives. It’s doubtful they ever waited in the express lane at Tom Thumb while a pasty, swollen, 38-year-old woman in a mismatched sweat suit spent five minutes trying to find her ID so she could buy a six-pack of Coors Light. They never booted up their computer to write a proposal due in twenty minutes and sat, stupefied, as the little loading circle spun and spun and spun. They never stood in line at Comic Con for three hours only to be told that, we’re sorry, Ron Perlman is done signing autographs today. Anyone who extolls the virtues of waiting has never truly waited. Here’s the thing about waiting: It is the worst, the absolute worst. Every moment I spend waiting, for a cashier to find the barcode on my 20-ounce Red Bull, for the woman pushing the stroller to get across the damn street already, for the answer to a question I asked over two seconds ago, is a moment I could spend doing something important. I could be at home, alone, in my sweatpants, eating day-old pizza, watching Sons of Anarchy. I could be at home, alone, in my sweatpants, eating ice cream straight from the carton, reading an Elmore Leonard novel. I could be home, alone, in my sweatpants. Every moment I am forced to wait is a little moment of heaven forever stolen from me.

My life provides constant validation of Einstein’s theory of relativity. The time between the traffic light turning green and the Chevy Tahoe in front of me moving feels like a year. The time it takes for a movie to buffer on Netflix feels like a decade. When I’m having coffee with a friend, the time between the last word of my sentence and the first word of his? Eons. What is he waiting for? Doesn’t he know that I have things to say and after that more things to say and after that things to do? I’ve gone to the trouble of thinking of what I’m going to say next while he’s talking so that I may begin speaking the moment he stops making noise. The least he can do is show me the same respect.

There are people out there – you know who they are, the slow movers, the calm talkers, the shoulder massagers – who will tell you to slow down, to take a moment, to breath. They push their zen philosophy on you like it’s some magic solution to all problems. Enjoy every moment, they say. Take in the beauty of the world. Be present. Relax. Obviously, these people are slow-witted, or dying, or both.

Relax? I have 132 movies in my Netflix queue. I could die tomorrow, run into Cary Grant in heaven, and have nothing to say when he asks my opinion on I Was a Male War Bride. Enjoy every moment? MY DVR is at 88% capacity. How can I enjoy one second of Justified when I know I have two more waiting right behind it, and a new one each week? Slow down? Do they know how many books I own that I haven’t read? What if a friend visits, grabs my copy of Against the Day off the shelf and asks me if it’s any good? I’m going to look like a real jerk.

I appreciate the advice, slow-witted, dying people, I really do. But there will be no deep breaths, no slowing down, no enjoying the moment. Things will remain the same: I’ll tap my feet, drum my fingers, shift my weight from side to side, let out the occasional exasperated sigh, and when the moment truly warrants it, like when an old lady questions the price of can of peaches during the checkout process, I’ll shout “Come on!”

I’m not an unreasonable person. I’m not naïve. I understand that there will always be waiting. I understand that the world doesn’t run on my schedule.

Yet.

But there’s a lot of time left in 2014. And I have big plans.

Ryan Callahan is a current DCH student who loves crime novels and pro wrestling. He’s the brains behind WikiFakeAnswers.