I had a slight epiphany today and I thought it fitting to share just as a general reminder for all. If you’ve ever planned a big trip such as the one that Jared and I are currently, you will understand that giving the proper amount of love and attention to one’s “to-do list” before departure is part and parcel of the whole gig and highly recommended for maintaining safe levels of sanity. Attending to mine thoughtfully today, I found myself waiting patiently in line at the GoVia toll office with the intention of returning my electronic tag. I was surprised to find the small reception space filled with approximately 12 to 15 people (an unusual amount for that time of day at that particular office). As I stood in the stagnant line, thinking of nothing in particular, I felt that my annoyance levels were climbing steadily. I started to get fidgety, checking the time on my phone every couple of minutes, starting to find it “unbelievable” that there weren’t more staff on and thinking “what could be taking so long?” I had a lunch to attend.
As I tried to calm and distract myself, I caught the conversation of the overly opinionated elderly woman in front of me. She was speaking to another woman whom she had only just met in the line, and as I listened idly to her rant to this complete stranger about anything from the price of petrol to how many tradesman there are on the roads today (and with such oversized utility vehicles), I started to relax slightly.
The elderly woman approached the assistant with a sense of purpose and before the poor employee could even begin to ask how she could be of assistance, it was on.
“…I would have called but I have tried and tried and tried and YOU would have to have one of the most appalling answering services that I have EVER come across. WORSE than the banks…”
I relaxed some more.
“…not only could I not sort this out over the phone, my husband and I have had to waste our fuel to come over here to get this all sorted…”
I looked sideways at the girl next to me as we tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle a laugh.
On she went and, by the time the elderly woman had run out of steam, I had completely forgotten about the annoyance that I had felt in the line 15 minutes ago. It was less to do with the fact that I now had something else to focus on and more about the resemblances that I witnessed between the attitudes of the woman and my own. Granted, my gripes were in the form of a relatively harmless inner monologue and I wasn’t about to take out my own impatience on the staff of GoVia. But it was infectious! In no less than 10 minutes and without saying a word, I had worked myself up over an unavoidable situation because people had dared to come to the reception at the same time that I had wanted to. I wanted immediate assistance, I didn’t get it, it made me angry and it took witnessing an absolute shit of a woman directing her trivial frustrations onto an undeserving worker to snap some sense into me.
Here I was with no job to go to, my only deadline; a lunch date with friends that could be pushed back if need be. And here she was; far beyond working age (yes, I know I’m generalising) and probably with nothing better to do than to come down to that office and ruffle some feathers. Some parts of her rant even sounded rehearsed! It led me to promise myself today that I would endeavour not to end up like that woman and would try harder to show patience in general, but mainly towards situations that are beyond my control. My guess is that I will be encountering such situations far more frequently as complications arise throughout my travels and are made no less easier by ever present language barriers.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that we have all been guilty of getting carried away with a false sense of importance at some point. Or maybe we’ve thought that our time was more valuable than that of someone elses. Odds are, it wasn’t.