If patience is really a virtue I’m the first to admit I am not virtuous. I have a really hard time tolerating idiocy. Now I realize that the world is full of all kinds of people, and I can’t decide if I’m just oblivious to the normal ones, because lately I seem to be encountering more than my fair share of blithering idiots.

While on a road trip with friends a few weeks ago we stopped to get coffee at a McDonalds Restaurant in rural Nova Scotia. A friend and I went in while our spouses waited in the car. She placed her order through the automated kiosk but I preferred to go to the counter for my order because I don’t like having to pay for my 99 cent coffee with a card. I waited several minutes at the one and only cash station but no one on staff came to my aide. Seeing my friend had already obtained her order I figured I’d better use the kiosk after all. I quickly keyed in my order for 2 coffees, paid with my card, and waited for my receipt. It didn’t come. Instead I got a message on the screen that said it was unable to produce a receipt and referred me to a cashier, so back to the counter I went (muttering any number of unholy oaths) 

A young man who looked about 13 asked if he could help so I explained I’d placed and paid for my order but had no receipt. He stared blankly at the cash register clearly regretting that he’d come to serve me. After several seconds of punching keys unsuccessfully he called over the french fry guy, who also looked to be about 13, and explained the issue. The two of them punched the keys for another few minutes while I muttered more oaths under my breath. (all this for a cup of coffee)  My friend was on the side lines sipping her coffee and thoroughly enjoying my predicament.  

Finally, giving up on technology, they asked what I’d ordered and advised they’d just give it to me because they didn’t know how to reproduce a receipt (Mother Jesus, help me) I told them that was fine but I still wanted my receipt because the transaction went through my account I wanted to reconcile the charge to my statement. (I’ve actually had duplicate charges go through so I get copies of everything I charge electronically) French fry guy tells his colleague he’d better get the manager and they ask me to step aside because there’s another customer behind me. I turned around and told the man they had a team of specialists working on my order and he’d be better off using the kiosk for his. He actually listened and smiling, moved to the automated order terminal.

After a few minutes the young man returns with the manager (I think) in tow, and I’m relieved to see I’d be dealing with someone with more experience – the ‘manager’ had to be at least 15. I glance around to make sure I am in a McDonalds Restaurant and not the local daycare while the young man explains the issue to the manager. (more muttering of oaths) By this time I note 2 coffees are sitting on the pick up counter unclaimed, likely mine. The girl working the drive through window sees the confusion and comes over to help (cause yes, that’s what we need, another teenager to lend some expertise….more cursing) and all 3 stare helplessly at the cash register.

After several more minutes of punching keys, head scratching, and exclamations, the manager finally hits the magic button and tadaaaah, my receipt pops out. He looks clearly surprised, but puffs up his prepubescent chest when his colleagues applaud his success, (doesn’t take much to impress these geniuses)  but at this at this point I could care less. I grab my now cold coffees and run, muttering again, under my breath.

This past week I went to my local grocery store to pick up a few things. List on hand, I grab a cart and head into the produce aisle.  There’s a man ahead of me scanning the tomatoes so I wait the required 6 feet behind him. He’s got a face shield on and rubber gloves so I’m thinking he might have pre-existing health conditions that warrant sturdier measures to prevent covid infection – no problem, I wait. He’s picking up one tomato, then another, returning each to the pile after close scrutiny. I see him lift another to his face as though he’s sniffing it but I can’t imagine he can smell anything through the plastic face shield. Seeing he’s not going anywhere any time soon, I decide to get some of the other produce on my list, I’ll return for tomatoes later.

I wheel over to get my lettuce, onions, etc, then swing back to tomatoes only to find he’s still there, groping each one as though searching for a bomb. (what the hell????) Surely he’s got to be done soon, so I wait. (I never would’ve imagined a tomato could be so interesting) There’s another woman also waiting, just across the aisle from me. We both watch as he feels each tomato almost lovingly (ok, this is getting weird) Our eyes meet and she smiles and shrugs, then she veers off in another direction, not prepared to wait. I do the same. I may as well get the rest of my list done while tomato guy gets his thrills.

My list was not long so within 10 minutes I’m heading back to produce and believe it or not tomato guy is still there. (get an inflatable woman already) Tired of being the nice guy, I pull my cart up next to his, lean over and grab 2 tomatoes plopping them in my cart. As I prepare to move away, he stands up straight clearly affronted, and says,”excuuuuuse me!” (I guess I invaded his space) to which I replied “you know, you might be a good candidate for curbside pick up”. (ok, in my head I was really thinking he’d be a good candidate for a looney house)

Is it unreasonable for me to be intolerant of idiocy? I like to think I am a tolerant person, considerate even, of another’s idiosyncrasies, but some of these whack-jobs really test my patience. (could this be why I have high blood pressure?) It just seems that there’s an inordinate number of looneys and morons roaming this planet and I seem to be bumping into every one of them. Maybe it’s the full moon theory, or maybe I need to go out less. I do know that patience really is a wonderful trait to have,,,,,sure wish I had some.

2 thoughts on “Patience, patience

  1. OMG. I think you and I are sisters as I’ve had similar experiences but I’m afraid you have more patience than me…re tomatoes…I would’ve said something and reached over and got them at first attempt ..lol And coffee…why is it so difficult to just get a cup of coffee today. I agree the clerks are very very young looking kids or is it we are just getting older? My friends get a kick out of your columns as well. Marina

    Sent from my iPad

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  2. Haha, any more patience and you would be a saint!
    One of the few positive things during these trying times is that I’ve come across fewer ‘challenged’ persons – of course, because I hardly go out! All the best for your next trip out. 😀

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