If you’re a regular reader, and I certainly hope you are, you got a glimpse into one of my greatest personal foils last week. Somewhere on life’s bumpy road I lost any semblance of patience.
That is not a good thing.
Impatience causes me great anguish and frustration. It undoubtedly raises my blood pressure and causes me to become a grouchy old goat.
I don’t like myself at all when I get grouchy!
I’ve tried to analyze the roots of my impatience this week and finally think I hit upon the genesis of my problem.
It was Expo 67, the one and only world’s fair that I’ve been to. I’m not even sure they’re having them anymore. If one had been scheduled for this year I’m sure COVID-19 has resulted in its cancellation.
Expo 67 was held in Montreal and our family vacation was a visit to the fair.
The trip started out wonderfully with visits to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, then Cooperstown, New York.
I was a baseball player in my youth and, in fact, had just completed my first year in Babe Ruth League baseball. I was a pretty good catcher and not a bad pitcher. Williamsport is home to the Little League World Series and was a place I had dreamed of playing. Cooperstown hosts the baseball Hall of Fame, a place where I dared to dream of being enshrined. (No, I never was that good!)
Visiting those small, historic towns was a great start to the trip, but it quickly went down hill from there.
Niagara Falls was next and that was pretty nice, something everyone should see in their life, but the line for the Maid of the Mist tour boat to ride out near the base of the falls was a harbinger of things to come.
After crossing into Canada for the last leg of the trip my sister informed my father, who was driving, that she had to go to the bathroom. We were just outside of Toronto. Dad didn’t stop until we got to the motel in Montreal.
Google up a map!
Sitting in the backseat of the old Plymouth with my sister squirming that whole time was pure agony for me. I can’t even imagine what it was like for her.
Another harbinger of things to come.
Praise God, my sister made it to Montreal and finally it was time to go to the fair. Expo 67 was based on a couple of islands in the St. Lawrence River. It was an overwhelming success by most standards, with record attendance. What that meant, though, was that there were lines everywhere you tried to go.
I had been in lines before, at McDonald’s, the movie theaters — you know, all the usual places.
None of the them prepared me for the lines at Expo 67!!!
The line into the Czechoslovakian exhibit was more than four hours long.
Four hours! Here’s this 12 year-old active, somewhat athletic kid, just standing around for four hours. Just standing there taking one step toward the door about every other minute.
I don’t remember anything at all about the exhibit. I suspect my brain had melted into mush by the time we got inside.
There’s no question in my mind that was the turning point in my life where I started to hate lines.
Rest assured, if you see me standing in a line at one of the big box stores, or anywhere for that matter, you’d better get in another line because mine inevitably does not move.
Speaking of big box stores, even smaller stores in some cases, I’ll bet you didn’t know that some of those retailers actually instituted the concept of social distancing years ago. You thought it was something new.
How else can you explain the fact that those retail behemoths put two dozen checkout aisles at the entrance/exit to the store? They wanted to make sure that nobody had to come in contact with anyone else, nobody got sneezed on or coughed on during the winter flu season. They spread everyone out across the front of the store to check out.
But have you seen two dozen checkout aisles open at any given time recently? And by recently, I mean years! Even at Christmas time when the stores are swamped, usually fewer than half the checkout aisles are open.
Now they’ve gone to self-service checkout, huddling us all back together at four or six stations in a relatively small area where WE ARE ALL TOUCHING THE SAME SCREENS!
Talk about irony!
I have a love/hate relationship with one local retailer. They have great prices on off-brand items and have become a very popular place for Romans to shop. Like many if not most men, when I go in I have specific items I want to purchase — usually coffee, bagels and toilet paper. It’s always stuff I can carry without a buggy.
But when I go to check out, there are, if I remember correctly, five or six aisles. Generally only one is open and there are five ladies ahead of me with a buggy FULL of items because the prices and quality of merchandise are so good. The good news here is that quite often one of those ladies will take pity on me and let me move in front of her. Also, the cashiers are usually pretty quick.
I was at the drive-through of my bank the other day. Three lines open, all of them backed up as far as the eye could see. I waited 46 minutes — yes, I keep up with that kind of stuff.
At least I was socially distanced appropriately in my car and had some iTunes on my phone to listen to before I got to the chute. At least the teller was, as always, incredibly pleasant to chat with on the video screen.
By the way, if you ever get a chance to visit Montreal, I would highly recommend it. They’ve got one of the most amazing largest, most diverse farmers markets I’ve even been to.