All things come to Bob ­ who waits

All things come to Bob � who waits by Bob Karolevitz Well, all those years in the Army were worth something after all.

They taught me how to wait!

Back in those days we waited for the chow to be served. We stood in line at the battalion theater and for short-arm inspections. We even had to wait for mail call.

The much-repeated Army lament of "hurry up and wait" was familiar to all GIs. It was part of the routine, that's all, and we got used to it. However, we didn't think it would carry over into civilian life.

But it did!

Now we've got to wait at the hospital, wait at the medical clinic and wait nail-bitingly for the results of the physical test. We even have to wait at the barbershop.

We've fidgeted in line at the supermarket checkout stand and at the fast-food restaurant. Fast-food, ha! We've had to queue up to pay our real estate taxes and to get license plates for our vehicles.

It's the Army all over again � but I have been well-trained. Even after more than a half-century, I'm still controlled by that in-grained trait.

Every now and then I've had to wait for Phyllis while she puts on her lipstick. Thank goodness, though, she's not like one of those cartooned wives who are never ready to go out while husbands pace the floor in a foul mood.

In our case it's usually the other way around. Phyllis waits for me while I re-do my necktie for the fifth or sixth time � and she never had the advantage of that Army experience.

Looking back on it, I sometimes wonder how I managed to cope. Patience has never been one of my virtues, but then patience had nothing to do with it. Waiting was just part of the the game, and we conformed.

I guess we heeded John Milton's refrain: "They also served who only stand and wait."

Now we've got to do it all over again. Like little kids waiting for birthdays and Christmas, we stand in ticket lines, and we wait for the light to change. Road rage festers if a second or two goes by before we move.

Oh, and don't forget those telephone delays!

"We appreciate your call," the sweet recorded voice says, and then we wait and wait and wait while the canned music drones on in the background.

It doesn't bother us, but I understand that computer-users have to wait to get on-line. They want faster and faster service. Waiting is obviously not for them.

In many ways I'm a dinasour. I don't want the world to be speeded up. I'd rather wait than get all tied up in knots trying to live life on the run. As far as I'm concerned, stress is just an anti-wait syndrome.

Time waits for no man, the sages say, but I'm not in an hurry. I'll just amble along, paraphrasing Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who wrote, in effect: "All things come to him who waits."

Right now I'm waiting for the lottery numbers to come up.

© 2002 Robert F. Karolevitz

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