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Patience is elusive in a world of inconsiderate people

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Lynne D. Schwabe Lynne D. Schwabe

Lynne D. Schwabe was owner of Schwabe-May of Charleston, ran her own marketing consulting firm and is a nationally recognized motivational speaker. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Women's Wear Daily, and has appeared on CNBC's Power Lunch. She is now director of development for the National Youth Science Foundation. She can be reached at

I am not a patient person. This is definitely a character flaw and possibly even a sin.

I was reminded of this recently when I went online to learn about low-carb diets and find out "What five foods to NEVER eat." This required watching a video of more than 30 minutes with about three sentences of valuable material in it. I should know by now that nearly everything on the Internet is an advertisement for something, but that's another story. A few minutes into the film I was squirming. Ten minutes in, I was swearing at the computer. Fifteen minutes in, I was taking snack breaks (carbs, of course) while the narrator droned on and on. It seemed like a rigorous exercise to learn that one shouldn't eat: concentrated orange juice, whole wheat bread, margarine, processed soy and corn. Because I was so impatient, I calculate I lost about 5 pounds just by pacing. I told a friend about this experience and he said, "You suffered an agony of impatience." Gee.

However, my lack of patience wasn't a surprise. In college, I tried to learn bridge. Card games have always seemed the height of silliness to me; why play cards when you could be reading, dancing or going to a movie? Crossword puzzles elude me; why spend your time trying to figure out "word puzzle for a computer age" (crickler) or "high-pitched keening" (ululate) when you could be playing Scrabble and having real fun racking up triple word scores? Sewing — now there's another thing I just didn't have the patience for. I mean, have you ever tried to thread a sewing machine? Of course, this was back in the Dark Ages. Probably now it's all robotic, even the sewing part.

Day to day, I get impatient with people I label "oblivious," people who have no awareness that there are others around them. This category includes the guy who blocks the gas pump while he goes inside the station to buy Cheetos; people at Kroger who clog aisles with their carts; people who take cell phone calls while dining with friends; and the woman at the post office who holds up the line for 10 minutes while she painstakingly and carefully and precisely tapes 16 strips of Priority Mail tape (it's free) on her package. Drivers especially offend me, including people who are so busy texting that they don't notice the red light has changed; drivers who park and take up two parking places; and drivers who don't use turn signals. I mean, it's a wonder that my blood pressure is anywhere near normal! Upon reflection, I realize that patience is something I admire in the driver behind me, but not the one ahead of me.

A long time ago I got over jokes sent to me by people who have my email address and think I'm desperate for entertainment. Yes, the jokes are often funny, sometimes hilariously so. But when you get upwards of a hundred or more emails a day that require answers, it seems silly to spend an hour or more reading recycled jokes.

Having been in the retail business for so long, my tolerance for poor customer service is extremely limited. I don't appreciate being put on hold for more than five minutes, being made to wait to pay money for something while the clerk takes a personal call, or not being able to find anyone to take my money in department stores. Excuse me for being snarky, but I also would like it if the person who picks up the phone in a store (or waits on you) could answer questions about the merchandise. Correctly.

I think my impatience about so many things means I have turned into a crochety old woman. I hope not. I prefer to think that I just want things to run smoothly and for people to be aware of how their actions affect others. I never voice my impatience, except for the occasional loud sigh. Well, I did tap my foot impatiently during the priority mail taping episode, but 10 minutes when there was a line of 20 people awaiting service (and only one window open)? Really!

And, I'm not waiting until I have white hair to be patient and wise. Nope! I'm dyeing my hair tonight! This may not be the path to becoming sanguine, but if I do start to voice my impatience, hopefully no one will recognize me!

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