Wasting Time

Because I was in love with Snooky Lanson, I watched “Your Hit Parade” every Saturday after doing the dinner dishes. But sometimes I dawdled and had to promise Mom I’d complete my chore when the program ended. One week, inspired by the show’s choreography, I forgot my promise and decided to practice my tap-dance moves instead, so I could become a Hit Parade dancer.

I convinced Barbara to sing “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” while I attempted various dance steps. I was working on a jaunty hoedown maneuver when Mom entered and silenced Barbara’s croaking with a look. She then said she’d never seen anyone waste time like I did and threatened me with no desert for a week, thus convincing me clean dishes would contribute more to my happiness than barn dancing in the living room.

It’s ironic that I tap danced rather than keeping a promise to my mother and could spend hours trying to peel the foil off a gum wrapper in one piece but became semi-hysterical when a sibling spent too much time reading the Sunday comics while I waited.

Waiting for others has always irritated me and made me wonder why their time is more valuable than mine. Though I fume inwardly at this who delay me, I say nothing; instead, I twitch with impatience, sigh with disgust, and moan in despair. When I vent in this manner in a shared waiting area, people move away from me.

My ugliness increases if I’m in a restaurant, hungry and waiting too long for my food — especially when no one explains. If the waitress would tell me my order was delayed because the busboy attacked the sous chef, I wouldn’t have to scowl and snarl until others avoid my table — even the mariachis.

Sitting forever in a dentist’s chair with my mouth numb makes me want to tear my hair. But I control myself. When the dentist finally appears, he might be put off by a patient with bloody bald spots, and I’d hate to be asked to reschedule. If I’m stopped by highway construction, I behave as though the multimillion-dollar operation was planned solely to make me wait. Too often, asphalt-splattered workers point and stare while I tie knots in the steering wheel.

But no horror can exceed waiting for twenty-eight minutes and thirty-two seconds in the skimpy gown required for unpleasant medical procedures in an exam room chilled to the point of goose bumps — with nothing to read but a chart illustrating the growth of cancer cells. I’m certain when medical professionals enter and observe my crazed demeanor, they consider calling security. If not, they should.

I’m ashamed of the inner monster I become when others waste my time because I fritter away my precious minutes as mindlessly as I did when young. Staring out the window with an open mouth and vacant mind, picking mindlessly at my cuticles or leafing through a Hanes underwear catalogue — while ten, twenty, thirty minutes slip by — doesn’t bother me at all.

And yet, if Joel should delay our departure for Denver by two minutes, I pace and mutter.

And I’m not proud of it.

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44 thoughts on “Wasting Time

  1. I’m the same. But for me, it’s because in order to be aware of what I’m doing, I have to keep my mind on where I am and what I’m waiting for, otherwise if I let my mind drift, I miss my appointment or forget what I need to say. And,like you, I’m not proud of being this irritable about other people’s bad time keeping. (My husband would tell you that my own leaves a lot to be desired!)

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    • And my husband would tell you the same about mine — but he’d be wrong, of course. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who forgets what I need to say during an appointment. So I’ve started making notes, but sometimes forget to look at them!

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  2. I to, cannot abide waiting about if I am cold, hungry, and by chance do not have notebook and pen. Dry heaving will expedite service at the doctors, or clinic, and an empty seat beside you on bus or airport waiting room. Time wasting as a child, and I still do it, was picking every bit of membrane from an orange with out any leakage..odd by nature.Great post Janet.

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    • I need to try the membrane trick; I think it’s akin to my gum wrapper obsession. If I don’t have a book or a notebook and pen, I use the notes app on my phone to take notes about things I’m writing or ideas for future pieces. It does help with the waiting. And if I run out of ideas, I go to my app for NYT crossword puzzles. But I’m still aware of, and made unhappy by, every minute that creeps by.

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      • Churgchurgchurg (typed laugh). I’m sitting here answering comments and you pipe in with that beauty. The whole scene is a classic. It doesn’t work without Barbara. The “long warbles” just keeps giving it more life.

        ( I told Music Enthusiast about you liking Duane Allman and the brothers. He said that if you check out his takes you have to bring cookies)

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  3. We all have our little moments Right now I am close to loosing it over spending a fair amount of time trying to blog,which I don’t do often enough,and it all just disappeared. Pray for me and I will pray for you.

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  4. I loved the Hit Parade. Maybe it’s because they had songs which were the kind of hits you could sing and dance to. Not so today. I am a notorious time waster now that I am older. Mind you, I can hurry if needed, but sometimes it doesn’t seem worthwhile. Our dentist in the past was our best friend, but he took too much time talking. A neighbor one became so annoyed that he got up and went home saying he would come back when the doctor was off the phone. They called and he came back.

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    • My siblings and I used to make bets on which hit would be number one each week. I agree with you about the singing and dancing thing and also about rushing about to do things doesn’t seem as necessary and worthwhile now. The story about your neighbor made me laugh. Thanks for sharing it.

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  5. I enjoy your writing, Janet. I found myself laughing outloud in several places, including the restaurant.

    I have to say that you brought back a very funny memory of peeling the foil off the cum wrappers. I remember doing that and I remember challenging others to see who could produce the most complete strip.

    I pace when we are getting ready to leave. Even if we’re heading toward an on-time departure, I pace.

    I don’t like waiting for appointments, and I don’t like being pushed aside for phone calls or unexpected issues. I am trying to be more patient. I’ll leave it at that.

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  6. I find impatience a very unattractive trait in people. It turns usually nice people into dangerous drivers, usually kind people into blustering complainers, and changes many into the worst version of themselves. I too get impatient and may tap my toe in agitation, but I try my best to hide my annoyance.

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    • I, too, try to mask my impatience, Candice, but as twenty minutes turns into a half hour and beyond, I have trouble disguising it. The only person I openly express my unhappiness to is my husband. Why is it I feel free to vent to him but not to strangers?

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  7. We get it! I can be quite impatient–at the person who waits in line for 15 minutes but then fumbles for 5 at the checkout counter finding something they should have ready. Silly, isn’t it? But I get it:).

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  8. Well Janet, this is another of your posts that made me reflect on one of my less-desirable personality traits.
    I, too, hate to wait on other people. During the first 5 or 10 minutes of waiting for friends/wait service/doctors, etc. I’m usually all smiles, but then a wicked transformation occurs and I can be downright grumpy when the friend/waiter/doctor, etc. finally arrives.
    I realize that impatience is an unattractive trait. From now on I’ll try composing blog posts in my mind while waiting for someone to arrive!

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    • We could be twins in this regard, Rita. Your self-description also describes me. Really, I wish I could change, because I’m not proud of being grumpy, but lo these many years have passed, and I’m still struggling.

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    • You’re comment made me giggle. I’m surprised by the number of my readers who admit they are impatient. It gives me hope that being impatient is a human failing as opposed to a personal one. What do you think? Also, I’ve always pictured you as a patient parent with your young ones. Please say it’s so.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sometimes I’m patient. It’s mostly driving when I’m running late or trying to shop at Costco on the weekend when the fierce monster comes out! 🙂 I don’t expect much from little kids, so it’s easier to be patient with them. It’s adults who know better that drive me nuts. But, oh yeah, impatience is quite the common failing, I’m sure. No worries, sister!

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      • This minor side story deserves a separate comment: When I’m grocery shopping with kids in tow, I’m on a mission b/c I never know how much “good” time I’ll get with the baby. Therefore, I was irritated when a woman was standing in the middle of the aisle staring at her shopping list like she’d never seen one before and was trying to figure out what it was. I couldn’t get by her so I said “excuse me” once. She didn’t hear me. I said it again louder. She looked at me like I’d just run over her dog. I couldn’t believe it. I smiled and said thank you as I walked past, but somehow, politely asking her to move was an affront.
        So, when she got in the check out line behind me I was concerned…. Until my daughters started playing with baby Joe, making him smile and the woman’s heart melted. Suddenly she was chatting with me about him and how cute and mellow he was. Ah, babies. 🙂 When Joe is too old to be so cute, I’ll either need to have another one (mercy) or start renting one out. 😉

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      • This anecdote definitely deserved a separate comment. I thoroughly enjoyed it, sympathizing with you when your polite request was met with indignation and melting along with the lady at baby Joe. I do believe babies and toddlers can be a bridge between strangers. Dogs sometimes work as well. When Joe is too old, maybe you could consider getting a service/companion dog cute enough to charm grumpy folks.

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  9. So right, AB. We invariably think our own time is ultra precious, while willing to squander other people’s time. So many people do it that it can be written off as ‘human nature’. Oh, well, she (he) is only human, they may say, providing, of course that they are not the ones waiting!

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    • You are quite right, Diane, it does seem to be human nature; and I’m not certain we all understand how silly it is to hate waiting for others but think nothing of making others wait for us. I think I’m more sensitive to that irony now than I was when young.

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  10. I understand that awful feeling of impatientness. Being a Virgo, I’m quite prone to it. I started curing myself of it about 30 years ago. I was on my way home from work in the heat of the summer in Denver. I wanted to get home but there was this man in front of me who refused to go any faster. Because it was rush hour, I was sandwiched in and couldn’t go around him. I inched closer to his back fender hoping to make him realize he was detaining me but he just kept going the same speed. I cursed under my breath and looked down at the speedometer. He was going the speed limit. I got off his tail and promised myself to work on my impatientness.

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  11. You’re a better person than I am, Glynis. I, too have vowed to curb my impatience, but sooner or later it always rears its ugly head again; though the intervals between those happenings has increased along with my years.

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