Have patience

FI-EditorialIt’s always reassuring to know that when you feel yourself pushed to the brink you can still hold your temper and practice what is preached to our children about being patient.

When the final scores are tallied, it’s going to be clear that all of us spent an absolutely obscene amount of time waiting for things and not in the “Oh boy, I hope that package from Amazon arrived today” kind of way. Rather it will have been in the slow moving and patience-fraying slog where you wait on a line and wait and wait and then wait some more. Those are the times when you’re in the post office or the DMV or even in Starbucks and you find yourself on the verge of wailing “Please God, take me anywhere! Just don’t leave me here!”

And that’s not even calculating how much time is wasted on a daily basis waiting in traffic, a particular concern for everyone in Greenwich who has to tangle with Interstate 95 or the Merritt Parkway. That’s another matter altogether.

So why bring this up? Because it’s tax season in Greenwich. April is considered the official tax season since everyone’s state and federal forms are due, but don’t tell that to anyone who has property and motor vehicle taxes due this week. For them, the looming Aug. 1 deadline is tax season and that’s not exactly a fun vacation from reality.

If you’re one of the majority of people who put this off to the last minute and have decided to handle your bill in person, that’s where the waiting comes in and that’s where patience is most needed. Tuesday morning it was an early start at the tax collector’s office in Town Hall with a line stretching out into the hallway before the clock even struck 9. Each person who joined the line had the same “You cannot be serious. My whole morning is shot” look on their face as soon as they saw it.

All of this was aggravated by having only one person working the counter. The initial reaction could be, “Boy, the BET should have to stand in a line like this the next time it talks about cutting the tax collector’s budget.” But the truth, as always, is more complicated. People were out sick and temporary replacement help had not arrived, creating an aggravating situation for everyone waiting, and putting a heavy burden on one hard-working town employee doing the jobs of several.

That’s what’s important to remember. You might be getting aggravated. You might want to explode. But everyone is just as ticked off as you are. Venting and fuming might feel good temporarily but it is not a solution and only serves to make the day of those you are fuming at worse. “I’m miserable, so everyone else should be too,” is the wrong attitude.

This is a lesson that can be applied to so many of our problems. We often feel we’re never going to get off that line or get through that traffic or get our morning coffee. Yet we always do. We don’t all have to become zen masters but we can show a little bit of patience.

We tell our kids not to throw temper tantrums. Why shouldn’t we listen to that ourselves?

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