July 27, 2022

Playing the Waiting Game

… there is little we can do about this
necessary but intrusive inconvenience in our lives, perhaps we should concentrate on
finding ways to be more positive about it.


By Mary Schricker Gemberling

“Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite. Or waiting around for Friday night or
waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil or a better break or a string of pearls or a pair
of pants or a wig with curls or another chance.
Everyone is just waiting. “   … Dr. Seuss

It seems that I spend an unusual amount of time ‘waiting around’ these days…waiting on the phone…waiting in line….waiting for deliveries! ‘Wait around’ is a phrasal verb which according to the dictionary means, “If you ‘wait around’ you stay in the same place, usually doing very little, because you cannot act before something happens or before someone arrives.” I do not remember spending so much time waiting when I was younger. I was a mom of two, had a full time job, volunteered at both school and church,  maintained a large home, and had a pretty active social life. When I wanted something done, I just got it done without ‘waiting around’ for someone else to call, deliver, or act.

But today, it seems everything hinges on someone else’s actions. Perhaps because it has been a year of changes for us I have grown a bit impatient. Our change of address has meant phone calls to credit card companies, insurance agents, utilities and financial institutions. Many of these calls required extensive time waiting in queue, and when I was sure I was close, being disconnected only to begin the call again. After multiple calls to the cable company beginning in late March, our cable was finally buried last week, 3 1/2 months later.

Trying to furnish our new condo has been a challenge of epic proportions. Covid supply chain shortages have made it impossible to count on furnishings being available in a timely manor. We ordered five pieces of living room furniture in early February with the understanding it would be delivered in late March. One piece arrived in mid April and we are still ‘waiting around’ for the rest. In early May we bought a patio set from a big box store which was delivered to a similar address in a Chicago suburb. After again playing the phone game we re-ordered and waited four more weeks for delivery to the correct address. After several calls to inquire on delivery status of furniture for the spare bedroom, we had to cancel and piecemeal the new set from a different store. We have now realistically changed our goal for having our condo fully furnished to the end of 2022!

When my back went out in late January, we learned a bit about waiting for doctors to call, referrals to happen, and prescriptions to be refilled. Gary had to wait over an hour multiple times to get medications filled. And then when the back surgery was completed, I found myself ‘waiting around’ to be able to perform the daily tasks I was used to.

I know that I am a person who likes to be in control and am used to getting things done. I also am aware that much of what happens today is due to a shortage of available trained and motivated workers, as well as additional Covid related issues. I also am not writing about this to complain; I am fully aware that, as frustrating as they may be, these are minimal inconveniences with which to deal. But I am not the only one who is frustrated; the theme of ‘waiting around’ seems to permeate multiple conversations lately. This prompted me to do some research to find out just how much time the average American spends playing the waiting game?

According to a Timex survey Americans wait:

  • On average of 20 minutes a day for the bus or train
  • 32 minutes whenever they visit the doctor
  • 28 minutes in security lines when they travel
  • 21 minutes for a significant other to get ready to go out
  • 13 hours actually waiting on hold for a customer service
  • 38-50 hours each year waiting in traffic (depending on where you live)

This equates to a total of about 37 billion hours annually or six months of our total lives waiting in line somewhere!

Besides the fact that most of us think waiting around is a waste of valuable time, why do we really dislike it so? It is often perceived as a violation of our right to manage and control our time. In a society that believes that time is money, waiting is reduced to a cost-reward ratio. Waiting in line puts us in direct contact with the unknown, and this breeds anxiety which quickly festers into annoyance. None of us wants to be annoyed unless it’s by our own accord. There are certainly factors that affect how we experience waiting, with the major one being attitude. So since there is little we can do about this necessary but intrusive inconvenience in our lives, perhaps we should concentrate on finding ways to be more positive about it. The problem is there isn’t much positivity about losing 6 months of my life when I am already 74 years old. But I will try!

“Sometimes, we’re tested not to show our weaknesses,
but to discover our strengths.”

Mary, a former educator and Seniors Real Estate Specialist, is the author of four books: The West End Kid, Hotel Blackhawk; A Century of Elegance, A Labor of Love; My Personal Journey through the World of Caregiving and Ebenezer United Methodist Church; 100 years of Resiliency.

Filed Under: Humor, News

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