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Impatience as art: Glass Bowl method

Gene Weingarten on

WASHINGTON -- I was standing in line at the post office the other day, waiting to get a money order. At the counter, a customer was contesting the price of his postage. A cheerful discussion ensued about the cost of various options for shipping, with much tut-tutting and commiserating about how prices had gone up recently, and wasn't it a shame, and so forth.

"WILL YOU STOP THIS INANE CHATTER AND GET ON WITH IT?" I blurted.

Oblivious, customer and clerk finally settled on a more cost-effective method of shipping, saving the guy all of 45 cents. Only then did the customer begin to dig into his pockets, as though the thought of actually paying for this service had just occurred to him. Many pockets were involved, as well as many variations of currency, including pennies.

"HEY, NITWIT!" I yelled. "SOME PEOPLE ARE IN A HURRY." Finally, after the payment was proffered, and elaborately counted and re-counted, the clerk asked the customer, pleasantly, "Will you be needing any stamps today, or any other merchandise?"

"GOOD IDEA!" I hollered. "MAYBE YOU CAN STILL SET THE RECORD FOR THE LONGEST COMMERCIAL TRANSACTION IN HUMAN HISTORY. MAYBE THIS CAN SURPASS THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE."

As you can probably surmise, because I remain alive, the screaming was all in my head. I do this all the time. My profound impatience about small matters of everyday living is both a curse and an embarrassment. At these times I enter my own personal space, in which I become something that rhymes with "glass bowl." This is my Glass Bowl Mode.

 

Glass Bowl Mode is wordless but, sadly, not entirely interior and private. I roll my eyes. I fidget. I take long, deep, sighs. That is why, when I finally make it to the front of the line and the anxiety ebbs, I am filled with remorse and self-loathing and become overly cordial to the point of obsequiousness. It is hell being me.

In restaurants, I am always nice to the wait staff and tip generously. I like to think that is because I am a good guy who understands the thanklessness of the server's job, but I know it is also because I secretly fear the server can hear or sense the abuse roiling in my head. This abuse tends to occur at the end of the meal, if the server fails to deliver the check promptly and is nowhere to be found, sometimes for as long as five entire minutes.

"HEY, DWEEBO, YOU GONNA MAKE ME BEG FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF PAYING FOR OVERCOOKED FISH?"

(Do I understand that not delivering the check immediately can be a form of graciousness, since the restaurant is obviously not hurrying you out the door? Of course I do. Do I care? No. Glass Bowl Mode refuses to entertain any logic that does not fuel its rage.)

...continued

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