“Jonathan, why do you run everywhere?” my high school science teacher once asked me. Then as now, I was known for running from class to class, often as fast as I could.
“Well,” I replied, “I figure that I can either spend three minutes walking somewhere, or run there in 30 seconds. I’m impatient.”
“And do you think that’s a good thing, being impatient?”
I paused, considering the question. “Sometimes it is,” I answered. “Sometimes not.” He nodded in response, then added “don’t ever drive.”
I’m not nearly as impatient now as I once was. When I was younger, I recall dreading ordering packages online, because I knew that such purchases would be followed by an agonizing week of constant mailbox checking. One time, USPS forced me to wait a full two weeks for my new computer game to arrive. I would faithfully check the mailbox every day after school, only to leave disappointed every time. The day did come, however, when the black and yellow Amazon logo finally dared to show its face. I gleefully snatched the box and hurried up to my room, letting my computer boot up as I tore at the packaging. The gray outer box gave way to a white inner box, which in turn gave way to a small, white, paper cd sleeve. Then the sleeve gave way to two halves of a broken disc, and my world came crashing down.
What was I supposed to do? Send it back, and wait another two entire weeks for Amazon to send me a new one? No, that wasn’t possible. I’d waited too long already. I had a much better idea. Actually, it was a terrible idea, but if I knew that at the time, my impatience caused me to ignore it.
Slowly, carefully, I placed the two broken disc shards on my bed, fitting them together and placing a strand of duct tape over the top. I made sure the tape was on top, so that the disc’s shiny underside would be left exposed to the deciphering laser beam inside my computer. I then opened my disc tray and placed the bandaged computer game inside, watching as my game receded into the depths of the machine. What ensued was a loud noise, some banging, and a crash. The computer informed me that my disc drive was empty. When I attempted to open it, and see for myself, it whined in refusal. I would never see my disc tray opened again.
It was as if a spell had been broken. There is stupidity, and then there’s stupidity, and somehow, I realized, I had managed to perform the latter. How? Before, I’d had no game to play, and now, I had no way of playing it anyway. And it was all–entirely–my fault. I had to live without a cd drive until we bought a new computer many years later.
Some might describe this experience as a failure of patience, but my impatience is a part of who I am. It’s less a failing and more an amoral quality; to use it effectively, I have to know its limits. Impatience keeps me active. Whereas a more patient individual might be content to miss the beginning of class, I always arrive several minutes beforehand, eager for lesson to begin. (If it’s the first class of the day, and I just woke up, all bets are off). If I’m sitting in my dorm, and I want something to eat, I run to the dining hall as fast as I can. (According to my calculations, this saves me approximately 12.5 hours every year). When a new Zelda game came out a few weeks ago, I went to the midnight launch, so I’d be able to play it as soon as I possibly could (using, of course, those 12.5 hours I’d saved).
But I’m also older now, and I know when I can’t afford to let impatience get the best of me. Had I arrived arrived home from Walmart at 12:30 AM, and opened my brand new copy of Zelda to discover that the disc inside had been split in two, I wouldn’t have tried to fix it with duct tape.
After all, glue dries pretty quickly.