I’m not proud of this. It doesn’t happen very often. I try very hard to be consciously kind, but sometimes I lack patience. Maybe it’s an age thing. Maybe it’s a lack of sleep, water, French fries (all of the above, in no particular order).
I’m not sure. But recently I noticed I have been experiencing a serious lack of patience for other people who cannot get to the point. (For the record, yes, I do see the irony here, but it’s a totally different thing if I’m telling the story.)
Recently, during a casual conversation with someone (who will never read this column), I found myself getting irked. This person was telling me a story, but it seemed to be one long tale with no apparent conclusion – just a boatload of irrelevant details. All I needed was the who, what, why and a conclusion. That’s all.
I didn’t need to know the day, what the characters in the story were doing, wearing or what their connections were, or the history that led to the moment. I just needed a synopsis and the point. It was taking super long to get to that point. Mind you, I was tired. I had somewhere I needed to be and thus was a little short tempered when I began rolling my hand in small circles, a move that suggests they speed this up. It was totally out of character for me. It was rude in fact, but I simply could not ignore the bubble of frustration that was literally rolling up my spine. My shoulder muscles grew increasingly tight in anticipation of a conclusion that was not coming. My inner voice was screaming, “spit it out, already!”
Wait. Hold on. Am I turning into the Carpenter? My spouse has a limited tolerance for people in general. He has a low threshold for small talk. He will not partake in drama of any kind. This explains why his mistress isn’t an actual woman, but is instead a muted, one-dimensional flat-screen iPad.
So the best moment of my week was relaying my story of frustration about the one-sided conversation with this person, who basically talked my ear off, never got to the point, made me late for my event and, to be honest, drained my energy. But I didn’t just say that. Oh no. I went to great length to explain the situation, craft the scene, describe the scenario and repeat the facts.
I did to the Carpenter exactly what this person had done to me, only with slightly more animation because, it’s a way better story when you’re animated. In doing so, I declared my frustration with all humanity, but especially those who cannot simply get to the point. I turned and walked out of the room, leaving him in silence.
About an hour later, I humbly returned to him and said: “I am aware that our last conversation was me spewing about other people who spewed on me today, which makes me just as bad.”
He smiled. It’s like he was waiting for me to come running back, having drawn my own conclusion. He was. He knows my guilty conscience better than I do.
I may lack patience lately, but I can safely say I am not turning into the Carpenter. The fact that I analyzed this scenario with such painstaking reflection is something he would never do. Ever.
Maybe I will endeavour to be more like him, but as they say, opposites attract.