Waiting – A Photo

I hate waiting.

It was one of the great challenges of my working life when I was travelling a great deal, that waiting for every flight that didn’t leave on time, waiting in line for the security check behind people who hadn’t read the signs, and in particular, on those rare occasions when I couldn’t avoid taking more than hand luggage, standing by a luggage carousel for my bag to appear, last.  I developed a strategy to deal with the near endless delays by expecting them and settling down with lots of papers to read; it was such a well developed habit that I was quite caught out on the 5% of times the flight left on time.

I would never join a line outside an eatery, petrol station or a shop, and to have to wait to pay the bill in a restaurant or in the supermarket is something I regard as unforgivable.  On the other hand I have been known to wait, quite happily to see an exhibition or to secure a cheap ticket for a theatrical show, watching the characters in the crowd and enjoying that feeling of gradually progressing towards the front.

Being almost obsessively punctual myself, I dislike being made to wait for other people, but that’s not to say that I’m not very happy killing time lounging around.  I think it’s the element of control that makes the difference.  If I’m not obliged to wait, I can get up and leave at any time, even if I choose not to.

There is also definitely some pleasure to be derived from delayed gratification, for identifying an object of desire and waiting for the right moment to secure it, but sometimes impatience with waiting gets in the way.

Sometimes I wish I had the calm composure that I imagine in my wooden babushka; she waits on the shelf with her cat, indefinitely, a serene smile on her face, acknowledging my occasional attempts at conversation with a very few wise words and affectionate indulgence.  She’s seen it all before, and there’s very little that will surprise or perturb her.

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  1. “Obsessively punctual”

    Rowena, (bit of a rant, sorry-delete if you choose)

    I joined the cops in 1966, back then, we, “gave” 15 minutes of our time to the job and reported at 0545/1345/2145 and were rostered for 0600/1400/2200. (We used to do lots of free overtime, too).

    So grateful for a job that didn’t involve me being a priest or following the rest on the railways, I was always the first to be ready at the parade room table. Entire career, I was late on three occasions.

    Since retiring and having to employ others in the small businesses I have amused myself with, I have been shocked rigid at the cavalier attitude to time-keeping displayed by the majority of employees. The majority!

    On meetings, especially across London with prospective clients and employees, again the majority appear to employ what I think I would call, “Party time.” Where one arrives fashionably late, anything up to an hour after the scheduled time.

    Call me an obsessive, grumpy (insert epithet of choice) but I just cannot arrange my life to suit these folks and upset a lot of them by arriving 15 minutes prior to the time, waiting 15 minutes after, and then leaving. Refusing to meet them again or answer the inevitable cell phone call asking where I was. Almost all of these folks were shocked by my attitude and no one ever offered an apology.

    Clearly one of those new matters in social mores which has passed me by.

    My time, and that of others is something to be respected. I will not waste yours, don’t you dare waste mine. Well, not if you want a job or my respect:)


    • Brendan – I totally agree about other people being late and making you wait. I feel like they are stealing from me. 20 minutes is my max for waiting for anyone unless I hear from them before the appointed time that they may be late!


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