French fries now survive the drive home, only because I'm the one driving. At public functions I'll politely wave people ahead of me in line. I started this practice somewhere between high school and college, possibly sooner, exercising etiquette as much as I was exercising timidness. Sometimes, there wouldn't be anything left for me when I finally got to the buffet table. Driving, I wave people ahead of me, and sometimes I start to slow down as I approach major intersections, on the off chance the green light might turn yellow. I wait my turn and I'm slow to anger, until something small triggers a release of everything I've kept to myself.
Monday was a good day. I continued to keep my computer off in the morning, and I got to work earlier than I have been, delayed only by traffic. I got a lot of important things accomplished, managed a full hour-and-a-half workout, and I was on my way home at a decent hour, with plenty of time until Prison Break, and How I Met Your Mother safely programmed in to my vcr. What were the odds anything could go wrong?
Earlier today in discussing another matter, thegreek imparted wisdom to the effect that “I control my own schedule”. He was prophetic in his irony and yet, in hindsight, not wrong. About five minutes in to my drive home, I came to a railroad crossing. I've driven the same road countless times. I know the train schedules, and I know two trains pass there at that particular time, occasionally running late. So when impatient people started making u-turns and doubling back, I scoffed at them. With each car that gave up, I was able to get closer to the tracks. Fifteen cars in front of me became ten, ten became five, and five became three.
I remember vividly that as the first few retreated, I actually said “idiots” out loud, chuckled, and smirked. I suppose even as I did that, a voice deep in my subconscious already was calling me an idiot and explaining how things would play out the way they always did. The last time I'd opted to wait out traffic, I was horrendously late for work. If that experience wasn't enough to suggest the obvious play, I also had my entire life story to refer to. Unfortunately, experience isn't a trustworthy teacher when every decision one makes seems to be the wrong one.
After about fifteen minutes, a train finally passed by. Lights flickered in some of the cars, so it was clear to me an electrical problem had delayed it. Another train immediately passed by in the opposite direction. I know those trains, and they were only a few minutes late. I knew the guard rails would lift up, I would continue on my way, and all the fools who turned around had left too soon. Five minutes later, the guard rails were still down, and I saw flashing lights as an MTA vehicle pulled up. And so, after waiting twenty minutes, I took the same path as the “impatient idiots” and pulled a three-point turn, doubling back to take an alternate route.
It isn't good to act in haste. Often times, problems can be avoided by simply waiting them out. But there is such a thing as being too patient and waiting too long. After ten or even five minutes I probably should have given up. Twenty was clearly too long, and by the time I got home I'd missed ten minutes of my show. It's not a big deal and I'll catch up easily enough online, but I'm sure the lesson can be applied to more serious situations. When I was a child, I learned to be patient. Now that I'm an adult, I'll have to learn when to take action. Maybe I can control my own schedule, after all.