AN ODE TO WAITING
I recently had to entertain a three-year-old for more than half an hour in a crowded, uncomfortable auditorium while waiting for his sister to come out to give a performance. The day before that, I waited for his sister in the same auditorium for rehearsal for an hour and a half.
Hurry up. Wait.
Go now. Wait some more.
Waiting. This facet of daily life, so much of daily life, has been on my mind a lot lately.
We all do it. Get up in the morning. Wait for the coffee to brew. Wait for the kids to get ready so you can take them to school. Get in your car. Drive down the street. Wait for a red light to change. Get to work. Wait for the elevator. Arrive at the office. Wait for Miriam from down the hall to finish telling you about her latest excruciating weekend battling bunions. Make some calls, wait for voice mail. Go to lunch. wait in line to order, then to pay, then to get ketchup. Splatter ketchup on your jacket, wait in line at the one-hour dry cleaner. Back to the office, wait for the staff meeting to start. During the meeting, wait for the damn thing to be over already. Back in your own office, see that some of your calls from the morning have been returned. Wait for YOUR voicemail to play your messages. Return calls. Wait for their voicemail again. Turn in that file your supervisor wanted by the end of the day, then wait for the sign that it was acceptable. Stop to buy a lottery ticket, then wait by the TV for the numbers to be drawn. To kill time while waiting, download a movie and wait for it to load. Get sleepy and wait for the Red Bull to wear off so you can fall asleep. Fall asleep, wait for Katy Perry to appear in your dreams and ravage you. Wake up in the morning. Alone. Waiting…waiting…
There are all manner of strategies available to counter the boredom of waiting. In the auditorium, I witnessed a number of them. There was the woman who stood up in the middle of a mid-row of seats for a good thirty minutes before the show started, back to the stage, staring at the door at the back of the auditorium, one hand on her hip. There was the guy in the grey hoodie and workboots, hunkering down in his seat so no one would see him at a dance recital. There was the old guy fiddling with a camcorder and tripod. There were a lot of text message reading and cell phone game playing.
There’s an art to waiting. I’m not very good at it. (If I had to DRAW art, I’d be even more screwed.) I think – even I don’t necessary practice – that every moment spent waiting is one you don’t necessarily need to let be wasted. It’s the times that feel like I’m wasting it, that drive me the most insane. Don’t just stare at the wall or each other or the ceiling or that wad of whatever the hell that is on the back of the seat in front of you. Read a book. WRITE a book. Balance your checkbook. Brush your teeth. Brush your neighbor’s teeth. Just do something besides vegetate.
Like, I dunno, read some awesome blogs. Now if only I knew some…