Those of you who know me will know that I’m quite a patient person. Those of you who know me better than that will know that this isn’t the whole story. In fact, while I have on occasion demonstrated something that could (in a certain light) be thought of as patience, what often passes for me being patient is me being quiet, and avoiding confrontation.
This week marks the end of our car-repair sagas, or at least the end of a chapter of car-repair sagas. A quick summary, to give you insight in how my patience was put to the test:
- The driver hit our car gently enough that kel wasn’t injured, but not without denting the front bumper.
- The driver admitted responsibility; NRMA held an online auction for the repair job, and the next thing you know, the car is booked in at the repairer who will cost the NRMA the least amount of money.
- Had I looked more closely at the registration papers when they arrived, I would have realised that a four-year-old car requires an inspection before it can be re-registered.
- Sadly, I didn’t notice this until mid afternoon monday. Rego runs out Friday. Car booked in for repair Tuesday.
- A couple of phone-calls. Car will be ready Wednesday afternoon; easy to book car in for inspection check at mechanic near RTA.
- Wednesday. Kel is all set to leave work early and pick up the car. Problem. Car isn’t ready (as it turns out, they had everything except the painter).
- No problem… Car will be ready thursday. More phonecalls. Car can be taken to mechanic as late as 4:30pm, and still have inspection report, and be re-registered.
- Thursday afternoon. Dave leaves work to pick up car, planning to work from home once car work completed. Dave arrives at repairer. Car not ready.
- Dave waits 40 minutes for car to be ready; Dave waits in pleasant silence, not making a fuss, nor communicating any unhappiness; Dave says to himself “This is just the kind of behaviour that I’d want from a customer… patient, no complaining… just waiting”.
- Car is ready. Dave calmly travels to mechanic; still with time to spare. Dave queues patiently at the RTA, pays registration fee, car is ready again for another year.
- Dave returns home. Rego sticker hard to remove; Dave patiently works on removing it, unsuccessfully. Dave returns to car later with various solvents and paper-towel. Rego sticker eventually removed, partly in small fragments, partly in bigger pieces.
- Dave appreciates all the years that his dad spent changing rego stickers with nail-polish-remover and metal scraping tools – surely these new stickers are much easier than that?
- Dave remembers that the windscreen has been replaced on the car during the year, so the sticker has had a pretty tough year, and this kind of behaviour – while unexpected – is quite understandable.
- Dave arrives home, although far too late to feasibly work from home; decides reluctantly that the entire afternoon is best counted as a half-day of leave. Dave informs his employer accordingly
- Car is successfully re-registered with an entire 24 hours to spare
As you can tell, I handled myself admirably throughout a lengthy, and frustrating process; all while giving the illusion of being perfectly calm and patient: I had won a victory over my impatience.
But here is the unexpected twist: I spent much of the evening in a foul mood, taking out my mood on Kel – mostly in silence, but this time an unhappy silence.
I’m not sure what your reasons are for wanting to be patient: for me, it’s part of being a Christian; I want to have a character that shows – among other things – what are known as “the fruit of the spirit” – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Given my low threshold for boredom, patience seems like something that jumps out as a character trait worth improving.
But showing patience at the expense of my wife? I consider this to be a victory with too high a cost – a Pyrrhic Victory. The next thing to work on is being patient, without taking it out on other people.