The Art of Impatience Nothing Funny About That
–By Jan McInnis, Comedian and Keynote Speaker
When I was a kid growing up in northern Virginia, we usually took our family vacations to visit either my dad’s family in Repton, Alabama or my mom’s family in Ithaca, Michigan. One summer was a bit challenging as our one car had a problem with the starter (and this was way back in the one-car-only family days).
It would crank up and drive fine if you had someone push it to get it started. My grandfather in Alabama told my dad that if he could get the car to his farm, then Grandad could fix it. Grandad had patience: this is the guy who could take apart a tractor piece by piece, lay it all out, find the problem, and then reconstruct it perfectly. As my dad was contemplating this drive, I remember thinking in my little child’s brain, “We’re going south, so it’s downhill. Shouldn’t we be able to coast most of the way? Pushing is for uphill to Michigan, right?” I was very young, and really didn’t get that north and south do not mean literally up and down. My parents decided to go for it and we had a memorable road trip in which we’d drive a few hundred miles, stop for gas, ask for a push, and repeat for 20 hours. We got help at each station stop and made it to Grandad’s, where he did in fact fix the car.
I’m not shocked that Grandad made the repair. I’m more shocked that two hours into the trip, my dad, who wasn’t known for his patience, didn’t pull into a car dealership and buy another one. The gas-station-push wasn’t his style.
As an adult who has inherited his “impatience gene,” I continually hear about the virtue of patience. You patient people get all the kudos for being understanding toward the rest of us, but I think we forget that all sorts of good things have come from those of us who can’t wait. First off, you can thank us for the invention of the Disney fast pass. Do you think they’d have come up with it if everyone was fine with standing in line for eight hours to ride Space Mountain? Doubtful! And in fact, I think much of our actual space exploration came about because we lacked the patience to let other countries get there first.
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