frances in the city

city life lesson #12
September 17, 2008, 12:01 am
Filed under: Chicago!

I bet you, oh faithful reader, just scrolled down to the bottom in a panic to see if you missed city life lessons 1 through 11. Fear not. You’re not missing anything. Lessons 1-11 dealt mostly with homeless people and how not to fall on the stairs to the elevated train. Those will be shared on a need-to-know basis. But number 12:

I’ve been given plenty of opportunities in the past to practice patience. Usually I chose not to. I sat in my little car and shouted at other drivers, I huffed in long lines, I tapped my toes in irritation. But now, as I share less space with more people, I’m practicing patience more frequently than I’d like.

My building holds around 800 college students on 28 floors. The brilliant mind behind 2 E. 8th allowed for three elevators. At least one is routinely broken, today two. Needless to say, waiting for an elevator going up can take a good fifteen minutes, and most hopes for an elevator down are abandoned after five or ten minutes in favor of the stairs. My huffing doesn’t speed up the elevator, and it really doesn’t serve anyone else in line. So I gave that up. Today at the bookstore, I waited in line for twenty minutes to special-order a book for my science class they ran out of before realizing I didn’t even have my debit card. This evening at the grocery store, I stood with my cart for thirty (30) minutes with around 100 other shoppers while technicians retrieved the system from an untimely failure. I’m learning to allow an extra ten minutes padding for bus and train waits.

I’m not trying to overwhelm you with numbers or crying “Woe is me”. I’m actually thankful that I’m recognizing these inconveniences as lessons in patience as they happen. I’m breathing a little more deeply and counting backwards in my head, but I’m learning. In Wichita, it was easier to sway things my way, to go a few over the speed limit when I was running late, to switch to a different lane when a cashier was slow. That luxury of control isn’t really available here, so I’m learning to relax a little. I’ve started carrying a book in my bag for extra minutes in lines and listening to my iPod when the bus is taking its sweet time. At least then the time doesn’t feel wasted.

Gandhi said to be the change you wish to see in the world, and while he was probably talking more about social justice, I like to think that my courtesy contributions are making a small difference. Maybe not always in the people I encounter, but definitely in me.


1 Comment so far
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First off, I think it’s cute that whether we’re 18 or 28, only our parents and other family members comment on our blogs.

Second, you are truly the most amazing woman I know and you prove it with every key stroke.

Third, what’s more eye opening than learning the patience needed for big cities and public transporation is going BACK to Wichita after having acclomated (sp?) to the way of life you’re currently learning. At least that’s been my experience.

I love your guts and think about you more than you know!!

Comment by Jenni

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