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Waiting

Waiting

    I've done a lot of it lately. 

    At Disney World in line, an interminable line, at 10:00 PM in the Magic Kingdom no less, waiting for our turn on the space sailing ships of the Peter Pan ride, turning a corner thinking it was on the verge of entry only to find the line stretches for another quarter of a mile... and let's not even think about zapping the wicked Emperor Zurg or losing one's cookies on Space Mountain.  Waiting is what Walt Disney's park is all about.  Oh, they've devised ways to keep you from thinking you're wasting time.  The line moves constantly, thereby preventing the recourse to reading materials.  The greater the crowd, the longer the line, the more turns and twists before arriving at the entry gate: the people who run things in Orlando are absolutely ingenious in devising methods to make us wait while encouraging us to think we are making progress.

    Then there is the doctor's office.  Connecticut is a lot better than Long Island, but I suspect I would be complaining here if I hadn't had to wait so much longer there.  The implicit message when a doctor makes you wait is that his time is more important than yours.  It probably is.  At least he's better paid than I ever was. 

    Or how about the telephone maze through which big (and not so big) companies take you when all you're trying to do is retrieve personal information, like, say, a balance due or a prescription lost?  God forbid that the dog should jump into my lap while the automated voice at the other end of the line lists the next nine choices after the previous nine. Skip a beat and I'm lost in the ether.  And why, at the very beginning of the call, do they all want you to tap in your ID number when the real human being at whose desk you finally arrive needs to confirm your blood type and time of birth down to the hour (or so it seems)? 

    Saturday mornings on public radio features a show called "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me."  I regularly play "Wait, Wait, Please Tell Me" with People's Bank, Comcast, and Medco.

    My biggest present complaint about waiting, however, is with the IRS.  It owes me a bundle of money.  I filed my return a week and a half early. The refund has yet to arrive.  Yes, I know the federal tax people handle 100 million or more returns.  But I also know that if I filed on April 16th instead of April 15th I would be liable to a penalty.  Why, then, doesn't the IRS pay me interest on a refund they do not process in a timely fashion?

    The world can be divided into two groups, those who wait and those who don't have to... or refuse to.  Can you imagine Donald Trump or Bill Gates suffering our fate with Delta on our return from Disney World?  Of course, they own their own airlines.  Besides, Bill never has to call Bangalore and wait while the computer technician gets bad advice from his superior and passes it along to you. 

    Which brings me somehow to a couple of quotes we live by.  First, the line of poetry by John Milton "On His Blindness," to wit, "They also serve who only stand and wait."  It's a noble thought about God's purpose with human disabilities.  Surely many of Pope John Paul II's admirers came to Milton's conclusion in the closing days of the pontiff's life, as he, by his own calculation, sought to make his dying an offering to God. 

    But I can't for the life of me decipher any holy or unholy purpose in my waiting in line to board Peter Pan's flying boat... except that it was the end of the day, the twins and their mother wanted to be enchanted again, and I could finally sit down.

    Then there is the quote from Isaiah about how "those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."  That verse should shut up my complaining about waiting.  Unless, of course, I were Samuel Becket waiting for a Godot who never showed up. But I too have, like Becket, lived a long time with my own impatience with the ways of heaven; and, without delivering on a threat to tell you more anecdotes than you can bear, have discovered that, though time may not change things, it certainly can alter one's perspective.  Curses turn out to be blessings... and vice versa.  Paths taken reluctantly turn out to have pots of gold at the ends of them.  People I just knew I couldn't stand become best friends. 

    Yes, I'll wait for the Lord, because while I'm waiting, He's busy bettering my lot.  But Walt Disney, airlines, doctors, and phoned customer service personnel, beware!  The jilted and wilted waiting customer will eventually get even.  Ask me and I'll tell you how.      

 



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