A Lesson on Patience

Friday, August 8, 2014


This morning, I woke up with a headache.

My mind was still fuzzy from the strange dreams I had just had about children and glasses and parent teacher meetings. (Don't ask me to explain it, I'm just reporting it.) I trudged out of bed, got into the shower, and tried to feel excited that it was Friday. But in reality all I could think about was the fact that I had a long day of work ahead and a whole weekend full of nothing but studying before my last test on Monday. "Weekends are no fun anymore," I thought.

In my grumpy mood, I got dressed, packed a lunch, and loaded myself (and all of my school books) into my car. I drove along in silence trying hard not to be frustrated and hate the world, but I wasn't doing a very good job.

As I pulled up to the toll booth that I've passed through twice a day every weekday for the past three years, the white SUV in front of me (mind you, IN THE E-ZPASS LANE) came to a stop.

Now, there are only a few things about bad drivers that annoy me, but one of my all-time biggest pet peeves is people who come to a full stop in the E-ZPass lane. There is a reason that you have E-ZPass and it's so that you can keep driving through the toll so you DON'T HAVE TO STOP! Ugh. Why people consistently do this, I will NEVER understand.

Since I was already running low on cheer for the day, I tried counting to five, hoping that the vehicle would realize that their tag had already been registered as "paid" and they could proceed through the booth. But no. This didn't happen. Nothing happened. In fact, the brake lights went out, the car was put in park and the driver's side door opened.

I lost it. I started screaming and honking and yes, I became one of those frustrated a-holes waving their hands and cursing behind closed doors and rolled up windows.

What happened next changed my day.

A middle aged Asian man got out of his car and waved at me with a smile on his face. He started walking toward me.

At this point, I had stopped honking and screaming and pretty much sat there with my mouth wide open in shock that he was coming to talk to me.

I rolled down my window and he said in broken English "Good morning! I'm sorry to bother you. I've never used E-ZPass before and I'm confused. I'm not from here. I have the tag in the car. Is there someone I wait for or can I drive through?"

"As long as you have the tag displayed on your dash, you can just keep driving," I said.

He nodded, apologized and thanked me again, got in his car, and drove off.

As I passed through the booth, I suddenly began to feel awful. Instead of resenting the man for making me wait an extra 60 seconds, I felt like a jerk. I had done a great job of making quite a scene but the man was so kind and apologetic.

What if he had a sick wife or baby and he was just trying to make it to the hospital? What if that had been me? In a new city, or even a foreign country, totally unsure of how to pay the toll, just trying to do the best I could to make it through the day without getting in anybody's way.

I couldn't believe how little patience I had had with the man. And for what? So that I could let him know how pissed off I was that he was making me 60 seconds late?

My attitude changed drastically as I drove away. I felt terrible and pretty embarrassed for how I had behaved. Who am I to go around on my high horse getting mad at everyone who doesn't know what they're doing. What makes me think that it's okay to act that way? There have been countless times where I didn't know how to operate a machine or I couldn't find my way around a city or I was trying something new for the first time.

We aren't born knowing everything, and I feel like today I've learned a true lesson in having a little patience with your fellow humans. None of us are perfect, so show a little mercy. We're all struggling to figure out this life, so why not do so compassionately?


  1. Awww sometimes we need something to rock our world to help us appreciate what we have. Happy weekend friend :)

    1. Sooo true! Thanks so much! you too :)