Waiting is hard. Many different emotions wreak havoc with our sanity as we wait for:
- life to give us a break already.
- the object of our affection to notice that we’re alive.
- the inheritance from that mean old uncle who has been blessed with immortality.
- that dangling carrot of a promotion.
- the weekend.
- our lunch order at the really slow fast-food place.
- the results of our lab tests.
- that phone call from that person who said they’d call but never did.
You get the picture.
Waiting can produce feelings of anxiety, frustration, boredom, exhaustion, anger, feigned indifference. Repeat.
Over the last few months, personal business has inserted me into a variety of public spaces where I’ve had to:
- take a number, have a seat and wait.
- join a queue and wait.
- give my name to the receptionist and wait.
- wait without knowing if I was waiting in the right place because there were no signs or information booths.
Even though I try to read my book of the moment as I wait, I inevitably end up looking around the room. There are a few behaviours which irk my soul without fail, and I’m pleased to say that it seems that I’m not the only one. Here goes:
- Don’t be a barnacle. Do not attach yourself to the person in front of you. The line won’t move any faster if you take up residence on his or her head. Respect personal space.
- Do not speak so loudly into your cell phone that the people around you cannot hear themselves as they try to conduct their business. Being rude is one thing, making us uncomfortable is a whole other level of poor cell phone etiquette. Trust me, we do not want to know that your girlfriend is cheating on you for the umpteenth time and that you always take her back (true story). Your tears and runny nose make it difficult for us to mind our own business.
- Do not leave your house without ensuring that you are clean. Personal hygiene is extremely important in public spaces. My nose hairs have been burnt off by oppressive body odours more times than I care to count.
- Do not allow your children to run through queues screaming, or roll around on the dirty floor…screaming, while you stand there glued to your WhatsApp conversation. Yes, we’re judging you.
- Striking up a conversation is a great way to pass the time while we wait in mutual distress but keep the topics of conversation amiable and PG-13. We do not need to know the frequency with which your husband fails you in the bedroom (another true story). Personally, I’d prefer to talk about the rising cost of bread.
- If you are in the business of providing the service for which we are congregating, do not operate with the lethargy of molasses. We have been waiting a long time. Nerves are frayed. You should not chit-chat about your weekend shenanigans or whatever reality show while people who are obviously exasperated stare at you with looks that could kill. Do not incite an uprising.
- When I enter a public space, I address the entire room with the appropriate greeting for the time of day. I do this because as a child I was taught that this is how people with good manners behave. Do not reward my good manners with deafening silence.
Civility is a beautiful thing. Let’s strive to embrace it.
Did I omit any of your pet peeves? Let me know in the comments below.