Monday, January 05, 2009

The Tao of Waiting

One of the comments that most frequently baffles me from my coworkers, especially from the numerous women I've supervised through the years, is that I never get mad, never swear and have incredible patience. I always respond by qualifying, "Oh, you should see me when I'm alone or driving."

Actually I don't enjoy using four letter words except in moments of extreme stress. I've always said that using them in casual conversation is like a newspaper using 120 point type to announce a garden club tea and social. My favorite non-profane insult is "worthless sewer maggot" (screamed especially behind rolled up windows at four-way stops, the ultimate test of passive-aggressive behavior).

This week I have used a number of four letter words, albeit behind closed doors and (I hope) out of ear shot of dainty Miss Bow. My refrigerator saga continues. The dude told me this morning that he'd be by between 1-4 p.m. at 7 p.m. he finally returned my call to say that he ordered my part this afternoon, and it might be in as early as Thursday and he'll try to get to it.

The super-cool European beveled tile that I planned to install today through Thursday and took four personal days to accomodate may arrive this week...or next...or in February. They're not sure. The supplier in Atlanta is not returning their calls.

Stepping out to move my car for street cleaning this afternoon, I discovered that one tire had deflated due to a huge gash in the tread. After not being able to remove the tire since it obviously had been secured by one of those high powered electronic machines at the garage, my dimwitted brain realized that's why I have a AAA membership. They said someone would be by to change it within a two hour window, and then they arrived in three minutes and suggested that they inflate it instead of changing to the spare so I could go to the garage and have them change it.

When I arrived at the garage, my cool mechanic Carlos greeted me with his usual "Yo, boss, how y0u doin' Gregg?" Then he asked why I didn't go ahead and change to the spare and just drop off the tire. He'd have to change it for me and call me back. "In about 2-3 hours. We're really backed up, you know." Four hours later he called to say the car was ready. The new tire will arrive tomorrow. "But get here really early unless you want to wait."

Back in the early 1990s when I first went to West Africa, I prepared by reading the book The Village of Waiting, one in a series written by returned Peace Corps volunteers. It was instructive for that trip, and a reminder of the importance of waiting in so many cultures, and something that exists in such small quantities in this country. In fact, anytime we (and I certainly include myself) are asked to wait, it as if we have been robbed or violated. We would much rather people steal our money than they take up our time.

The many canine behaviorial books remind me that waiting is a crucial part of a dog's life. It is something that a dog can do very well when it really wants something. Every time I look at Bow, I am reminded of this, even though her impatience is often the layer that I first see. She keeps teaching me how she ultimately know very well how to wait. This weekend, we did our first volunteer assignment of a potential foster home in the East Bay. I was thrilled that the couple were so wonderful and had a super handsome basenji boy who was excited to meet Bow. I whole-heartedly approved them, and they will be taking in an 11-year-old female who has had to go into rescue because her guardian is an elderly woman in the final stages of dementia. I'm so glad that this may work out, since every time I look at the sad eyes of this basenji senior lady, my heart breaks since it's so obvious she senses the changes afoot in her life. I hope her waiting proves to bring a happy final years with a new male playmate. And I hope Bow played a small role in bringing about this transition for her.

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At 7:51 AM, Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

the ability to wait well is a very desirable quality.

'worthless sewer maggot' is good, definitely better than my not very original 'pond scum'

sorry that the fridge saga is going on, and on

At 9:39 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Mouse - I think the secret is finding your own power while waiting for that which you can't speed up. It's a difficult but important skill.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger ArtSparker said...

I suppose when mobiel, if you're always in the middle of a really great book then it's less like waiting...

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Susan - There are actually some treat Taoist exercises to make the most of those frustrating, being on hold moments. It's a way to remind yourself of whose in charge of your life


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