think most middle school teachers are patient people. You have to be to work with an age group whose hormones are
going haywire, which somehow interferes with their ability to think, listen,
and shut up. I think my co-workers
would tell you I usually have an abundance of patience, at times too much
probably, so that I may border on being a pushover. Yes, from 7:30 to 3 I maintain calm and chipper, often with
a smile on my face. So why is it
when I leave work and inevitably end up in the longest line possible at every
store I need to shop at on the way home, I turn into a teeth-grinding,
eye-rolling Grinch? It’s certainly
not for lack of patience and sympathy for the underpaid, underappreciated
clerk. I spent enough years on
that side of a register to forgive just about everything from store
employees. Nope, it’s my fellow
customers who usually annoy me.
Why? Well, perhaps because
I have more tolerance for inconsideration from thirteen-year-olds who are
developmentally at a stage in their lives when it’s natural for them to be
self-centered. Also, with only
limited life experience, they can pass off a lot to ignorance, where in adults
it’s clear it’s just stupidity.
maybe I’m just being Scroogey with my patience, but at this festive time of
year there does seem to be an abundance of lunatics in lines. First offenders: the cell phone
talkers. No, I’m not someone who
scowls at anyone and everyone on a phone in public. I often talk on my phone at the store, sometimes even while
waiting in line. But the people
who drive me nuts are those who can’t even tell the person on the other end of
the line to hold for a moment, while they speak to the cashier who has asked
them three separate questions and hasn’t gotten so much as a mouthed apology or
smile. If a sixteen-year-old kid,
who isn’t getting paid a dime extra for being courteous, knows enough to smile
and wish someone a good day or a Merry Christmas, an adult, who likely makes
more in an hour than the cashier will make all shift, ought to be able to pause
his conversation long enough to say thank you.
intolerant of rudeness is probably acceptable even around the holidays, but the
next group of people I ought to have more understanding for, particularly since
I’m pretty sure I’m related to more than a couple of them: the
line-lingerers. I hate to be
sexist or ageist, but these people are usually older and usually female. Often they’re the ones who still pay by
check (check, really?) or insist they have the exact change, as if the cashier
would much rather wait for them to search through their unstylish handbag for
four flippin’ pennies than to make change from the neatly organized cash
drawer. But what really leaves me
rolling my eyes like one of my prima-donna students is when they finally finish
paying, but remain blocking the line.
Yes, we’d all like to leisurely organize our receipts, put our change
neatly back into our wallets, and button our coats after checking out, but we
don’t, or at least not while holding up the line behind us. Shove everything into your pockets and
fix it in the car like the rest of the world. At least then you’re only
enraging the one dude waiting for your parking spot. And what would Christmas in the Bay State be without at
least one Masshole beeping at you in a parking lot?
so perhaps we all need to chill out a little this time of year, whether it be
waiting in line or searching for a spot outside the store. You don’t need to be the obnoxiously
bubbly person who strikes up a conversation with strangers in every line
(though, it’s fun, so I often do).
But a little common courtesy and a little common sense go a long way to
making the season bright!