When your patience runs out, comes back, and gets rewarded

Posted 7/26/19

My head hit the pillow Friday knowing that Saturday was going to be a long and difficult day, one requiring more stamina and focus than I was probably capable of giving. But I was determined to see …

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When your patience runs out, comes back, and gets rewarded

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My head hit the pillow Friday knowing that Saturday was going to be a long and difficult day, one requiring more stamina and focus than I was probably capable of giving. But I was determined to see it through.

Patience? That was really an afterthought — at first.

Saturday was moving day. My wife and I set aside that day — the weekend, really, but Saturday was the biggie — to move our daughter from an apartment in Radford, Virginia, to another in Wake County as she changed colleges.

Our task was pretty straightforward: get up early on Saturday and make the three-hour drive to Radford. Pick up the U-Haul truck. Load truck with what remained in our daughter’s place — bed, dresser, sofa, bookcases, bicycle and the rest of her belongings that she didn’t bring home herself when her semester ended back in May. Drive home. Load up her desk from home. Drive to my wife’s mom’s home in Kipling and pick up another sofa and a few smaller pieces of furniture. Unload it all in the new apartment in Apex. Return the rental truck to the U-Haul office in Sanford.

We had two days to do something our busy schedules had prevented us from doing all summer. That it turned out to be one of the hottest weekends on record was just a foretaste of what lay ahead.

The normally-pleasant drive through Greensboro and Winston-Salem up I-77 and I-81 turned into a slog because of construction slowdowns. Bathroom stops turned into obstacle courses, maneuvering the car to find a place to park at packed convenience stores or fast food outlets, then waiting in long lines. Inaccurate and incomplete instructions the U-Haul folks had given prior to our arrival made getting the keys to our small rental truck time-consuming.

We arrived at the apartment complex and got inside our daughter’s apartment, only to find her bedroom door locked. We didn’t have a key. After getting one, the two- or three-hour packing job we anticipated stretched into more than five hours as we worked without stopping for lunch — all in sweltering heat because the apartment’s air-conditioning, which had been turned “off,” didn’t seem to be working.

Despite all that, I was in a pretty good frame of mind. I had worked earlier to “pre-process” the day in my mind, anticipating complications. It’s a trick we taught our kids when they were young to help with transitions, but it works on adults, too. But when we found we didn’t have the right Allen or “hex” key to take apart our daughter’s bed, things got a bit nervy.

A maintenance worker from the apartment complex came over with a couple of keys, but they were too large. So he left to go find something that would fit. We worked and waited in the meantime. An hour or so later, nearly finished packing, he still hadn’t shown back up. We called the office, which was supposed to be open until 8, and got no answer.

I drove over there to find three employees — including the maintenance person — sitting in easy chairs, watching TV and munching on chips. I inquired about his search.

“Oh,” he said. “I couldn’t find anything else.”

“Did you think about coming to tell us?” I asked, the veneer of my patience showing the first crack. “We’ve been over there waiting for you.”

Silence. Blank stares all around.

I then told the group we’d been trying to call the office and got no answer.

“Yeah, our phones are down,” another employee said.

I turned on my heels and stormed out.

I then drove to a local Farm King store to find a hex key wrench. Farm King was the size of an industrial warehouse and I was sure I could find a good set of keys there. But my search in the tools section turned up nothing — neither hex key wrenches nor employees to ask where they might be. I was hot and I was tired. My back hurt. I hurriedly circumnavigated the entire store before ending up back near the registers, where I spotted a red-vested employee stocking shelves. I asked her where they might be. She called down the aisle to a co-worker I couldn’t see and asked him.

“In the tools aisle,” he said.

Another crack in my patience.

She escorted me back there and I — not “we” — finally located them. I picked one out and made a beeline for the register, finding one where a woman was checking out. When she hit “cancel” on the credit card terminal instead of “OK” on her transaction, and had to start all over, I thought my head would explode. I quickly shuffled over to an empty register, only to have the employee ask for my telephone number and email address.

“I’m in a hurry,” I brusquely told him, thinking about the road construction I’d encounter in the uncomfortable U-Haul truck on the drive back, which would certainly be at least a five-hour ordeal. (An hour or so early, my “Waze” phone app still showed long stretches of southbound backups.)

On the drive back to the apartment, taking a deep breath in the air-conditioned truck cab, I chastised myself: whether it was stamina or patience, I’d lost both. I shouldn’t have.

When I got back, the hex keys fit perfectly. We disassembled the bed in minutes. Soon after, we were on the road. Sure, the truck’s seat was uncomfortable, but the A/C worked fine. Any traffic backups were now gone. Caffeinated and fed, I settled into the drive to our house. A little after 10 p.m., I pulled into our neighborhood and about 100 yards apart encountered two beautiful does placidly welcoming me back home.

The second half of the move on Sunday was a piece of cake, thanks to unloading help from a man we’d used in a couple of other moves whom I’d contacted out of desperation Saturday night and who happened to be available. We were finished with everything by late afternoon. Lee Ann and I picked up pizzas and we spent the rest of the day pretty much in a state of leisure.

And reflecting on the lesson: patience really is a virtue.


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