I’m amazed by those with patience. Awed by people who wait without complaint, those who stay calm and bide their time until their number is called. I want to be like them but I’m not. Waiting makes me crazy.
Last week, I waited with my son at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) so he could get his license renewed. First, I waited in my car in the parking lot, endless checking Facebook and my email, and then, worried that I might contract a deep vein thrombosis from sitting so long, I collected up my gear and headed into the DMV. Through the sea of people, I could see my son sitting next to a woman with a running-around toddler. I squeezed in between. “What’s the deal here?” I asked him.
There were at least 200 people in line and in chairs and, when I sat down, two out of eight service windows were open. I could feel my son tense up like he was waiting for the embarrassment de jure. His pores reeked of ‘God, she’s not going to go off in the damn DMV, is she?’ Sensing his discomfort, I tried to be very cool, only in my head calculating the number of people divided by the number of service windows times the number of minutes each ‘case’ took at the window and deciding that I would be in a walker and he would be an old man with forty kids by the time he got his license renewed. Still we waited, him trying to look cavalier and if he had just met me which is easy to do thanks to the miracle of adoption. No one within 50 miles would ever think we were related. He liked that, I could tell.
The running-around toddler zeroed in on my purse which was sitting on the floor; his mom swooped him up, set him down next to her and he headed back to my bag again like a wind-up toy with a magnet. Nearly everyone was looking at their phones or staring at the service windows. Nobody seemed tense or anxious. I marveled at the crowd not going completely apeshit. How calm and orderly everyone was. Why weren’t they stomping their feet or charging the service windows? Why weren’t the TV cameras there? Had anyone called their Congress person? And like I have a million times before in all kinds of situations, I realized again that I didn’t belong. The odd man out once again. A frantic, impatient little mess in a sea of chill.
It was going to be a long time until they called his number so we decided to leave and run across the street to a Target. When we came back so he could retake his place in the queue, I offered to come in and keep him company. “That’s fine, mom, you can wait here. I’ll deal with it.”
Ok. I know my place.