Anyone who knows me will also know that patience is not exactly my middle name. While patience may be a virtue, I’ll admit, it’s not one of my best qualities and, without question; it is something I have to work on.
People like me don’t do well in this fast-paced world. This hurry up and wait society in which we are forced to function often causes me great angst because I simply do not like to wait. Instead, I’m all about just getting there, getting it done and then moving on. In other words, don’t keeping me hanging.
In fact, I’m the one who usually shows up 20 minutes before the scheduled time of whatever appointment I’m supposed to attend; be it a meeting, social function, something work related or even a doctor’s appointment. It doesn’t matter what it is. I’m mostly early and often the first one there, sitting around waiting for things to get started.
I know. It drives other people crazy, but it’s my thing. Besides, I would rather be early than late, but that’s another story all together. Don’t even get me started on that issue.
I am sure my wife will certainly confirm that patience is not my strong suit. You can imagine how well I cope when my everyday routine runs into a delay such as being forced to sit in a string of traffic at construction sites, just sitting, waiting for that bloody “follow me” truck.
I know. We complain when the roads are bad and we complain when they fix them. I get it. I understand that the work has to get done when weather conditions allow for it, but is it really necessary to make us wait so long at each stop? The wait times have gotten shorter in recent weeks, but it’s still difficult for people like me to remain idle when we have things to do.
Even standing in a lineup at the supermarket, or waiting at the drive-thru while someone gets their special order, can push me over the deep edge. I know I should just park my car, get out and go inside. It would be better for the environment, and for me, but sometimes it seems the drive-thru would be the faster alternative; often it isn’t.
Simple things such as sitting in the theatre and waiting for the movie to start causes me great frustration if it’s five minutes late. Things like waiting for the traffic light to turn green sometimes tests my patience, and don’t get me started on how much I grumble when the light turns green and the cars don’t move.
I know, I shouldn’t sweat the little stuff, but come on already. When the light turns green, it means you’re supposed to move, not sit there and gawk around or talk to someone in your vehicle. Put the phone down and put your foot on the gas pedal.
No, there’s not a chance that anyone could ever accuse me of being a patient person and I know I’m not alone. However, as a friend recently pointed out, there are times when we should all exercise some patience. He rightly noted that, while we have all likely blown our horns, shaken our fists, grumbled under our breaths or even cursed out loud at strangers in our communities for causing delays or getting in our way, we ought to be more considerate to those who are visiting.
Furthermore, when we are about to lose our patience and blow our tops at that person who seems to be wandering aimlessly in search of some elusive treasure that we can’t see, or that driver in the vehicle with the out-of-province license plate who appears to have no idea where they’re going, we should consider the positive impact these tourists have on our communities.
This is a valid point. Let’s consider this argument more closely.
Even if these visitors have inconvenienced you, anyone who lives on the South Shore must agree that the tourism industry is an important component of this region’s economy, which injects millions of dollars into the local marketplace. In turn, that money supports our businesses and creates jobs. If you agree with then it behooves us to welcome these visitors to our communities with open arms. Believe me, I know how frustrating and aggravating it is to be stuck behind someone who doesn’t seem to have any idea where they are going. However, when you get frustrated over such things, try to remember the last time you were in a strange place and had no idea where you were heading.
Think of all the tourism-related businesses that exist in our communities that benefit from the tourist trade, and then think of all the jobs these businesses create. Think of the dollars that pass from the hands of these visitors and maybe even end up in your bank account where you, in turn, hand them over to other businesses. It’s an economic cycle that’s important to our region, especially now that many of our traditional industries have fallen on hard times.
It may be difficult to guess at the rate of impact one visitor can have on our community, but we can assume it’s significant and, if that’s the case, then we aren’t doing ourselves any favours when we lose our patience with these strangers. The next time you grumble and growl about a stranger getting in your way, think of the important role that visitor plays in our economy. That tourist may be helping to give you, or maybe someone else in your family, a job.
As we build our tourism infrastructure and help our industry grow, it’s important that we all become good ambassadors. No matter how inconvenient it may seem to have to slow down to allow a stranger to cross the street, and no matter how much a lost driver may frustrate us as they navigate our roads, it would be more beneficial to offer a helping hand than to grumble and complain about it. I certainly include myself in that group as I’ve lost my patience more than once.
It’s not easy for impatient people (yes, just like me) to slow down and give people an extra five minutes to get their bearings, but let’s all promise to do better in the future. We want people to visit our communities and so, when they get here, let’s make them feel welcome.
Let’s not blow the horn, yell, shake our fists or make obscene gestures at them. Instead, let’s greet them with a smile and offer a helping hand. In doing that, we’ll be making a positive impact on our community, or at least that’s the view from here.
Vernon Oickle was born and raised in Liverpool where he continues to reside with his family. He has worked for more than 30 years in community newspapers on the South Shore and is the author of 28 books.