I struggle with impatience. Not with my friends or family as much as I do with complete strangers. Trust me; I know this is an ugly trait. I detest seeing it in other people, and I am ashamed when I am guilty of such needless and mean behavior.
I have worked on it. I made a commitment to myself that if I were unnecessarily short with someone, I would go back and apologize. I have done it, many times. I am pleased to report that knowing I would have to come back with my tail between my legs and say “I’m sorry,” has resulted in a significant improvement in my “impatience outages”.
Impatience Got The Best Of Me And It Was Ugly
I find lessons in life often come in “random people packages.” Issues that we still need to work on to refine character come through scenarios in which we unexpectedly find ourselves. I love it when this happens. I am such a visual and emotional learner that “life lessons” speak volumes to me.
I was at the airport last night waiting to check in. I was tired, and the glacial pace of the check-in agents was starting to fray my last nerve. I took some deep breaths and tried to distract myself. I could feel my tension starting to elevate. The girl two in front of me, an eon ago, had gone to an open agent spot in the middle. After a quick greeting to the agent, she flicked through pages on her phone to find her ticket. She couldn’t find it. There was more flicking and phone searching. Where this ticket could be buried among all those open apps, I do not know, but the agent just stood silently by. Flick, flick, flick.
The fellow just in front of me took up on “Flicker’s” left. Within seconds it was established that the airlines had voided his flight. Like, just erased his history of ever having made the ticket purchase. The agent, after a significant amount of furrowed-brow screen-staring, got on the phone to sort out the contradictory issue of having a hard ticket in her hand for which there was no corresponding computer evidence. He was “tres” nonplussed. He clearly was a seasoned traveler – slip-off shoes, casual sports coat, well-worn duffle.
Truth be told, I was getting “plussed” enough for both of us. I had been waiting for exactly nine and half minutes for one of these stations to vacate. But, wait, I am omitting the best part. There was a third agent station. Let me describe the scene. Four people and two agents were crowded around something extremely important in front of the desk. To be commandeering so much time, it must be something serious. Perhaps it was a suspect piece of luggage or some highly concerning contraband. Nope, not drugs or questionable aerosols, it was a puppy.
The two agents were in front of the counter petting the crook of the owner’s arm where the little furry black and white head emerged. I softened for about a millisecond. But as the agent’s continued their complete disregard for the ever-elongating cue of people I caught the eye of a dad, several travelers, back. This guy, disheveled and clutching a two-year-old looked completely exasperated. (Bad sign for the front end of a flight.) He looked at me with pleading eyes, “Do Something!!” (At least that is what I thought he was trying to communicate.)
I knew I had to take action.
I walked past “Voided Flight” and “Flicker” and right up to the agent standing with the puppy group. I said, “Excuse me.” “Ya, hi. Is it possible that ONE of the TWO of you could ATTEND to a CUS-TOM-MER?” I’ll admit, the harshness factor came out a little higher than intended. I waited. It took her a second to decide how to respond. She chose to smile and say, “Certainly, I was just finishing checking in these people.” (From around the front of the agent desk, bent over, cooing in the face of a ten week old, “Tri-Color Coton Du Tulear.” )
Silently we did the business of getting checked in. She gave short questions. I gave short answers. I wanted to be sure my performance was adequately portraying my sense of injustice for having been kept waiting. I nailed it.
Just as I was about to leave she said, “Oh, Mrs. Denniston, I see on your digital phone ticket that your gate assignment says C3, It shows on my screen it has been changed to C18. I just wanted to make sure that you knew.”
Now I felt like an idiot; she didn’t have to tell me that. The “You should apologize” signal, that I have grown to recognize like and old friend, tapped me on the shoulder. I don’t know why, but I brushed it off, pursed my lips and made haste.
Once through security, I hiked the half mile, briefcase slipping off my shoulder every ten steps, down to C18. If you have been in the Seattle airport, you know that the C gates trek is long. C18 is the very last gate.
Odd. No one at C18. I looked around. There was the reader board. Better just confirm…..
I smiled, then I laughed. Like really hard. “Flight to Phoenix….C3.”
Puppy-loving ticket agent – 1. Impatient curly blond – 0. Well done.
I am sure I miss many of them, but I love when I can say “I just got schooled” by a particular event or scenario. I believe we have the opportunity to be taught these lessons regularly. Do you recognize them? Do you look for them? This week I challenge you to look for instances where a lesson may be at hand. What is it? Why now? What would you do differently if faced with the situation again? They can be tiny, they can be remarkable, but I think they are all valuable.
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