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Patience often takes practice

Tales from the front pew

Standing in line has never been one of my favorite activities. It’s not so much the fact that I’m impatient — although, admittedly, I can be — but mainly, it’s the fact that I inevitably get stuck behind incredibly slow people.

Take couponers, for example. Now, before I raise the ire of savvy shoppers everywhere, let me state that I have the highest respect for folks who take the time and effort to diligently locate, clip and categorize coupons, saving impressive amounts of money on household necessities like 75 twist-up air fresheners all in macadamia/pineapple/coconut aloha scent — because, as anyone will tell you, you can’t get too much of the tropics.

Yes, I admire these people, but I really don’t like waiting in line behind them at the local “Bag & Bargain Bin.”

Then there are those meticulous folks who take their sweet time rearranging their grocery bags, placing their money back in their wallets in ascending denominations, and straightening up the interior of their purses, all while we wait behind them. At the risk of sounding like a goody-two-shoes, when I know somebody is standing behind me, I stuff my credit card or change in the nearest opening of my purse and get out of their way. The sorting and tucking can be done when I get to the car.

In my opinion, the very worst person to be in line behind is the mad shopper. Not “mad” in the angry sense, but mad in the “I completely lost control and bought every item in the first seven aisles in triplicate” sense.

My husband, Bob, and I had such an experience the other day at a Dollar Store. It has always seemed to me that one of the chief things Dollar Stores have going for them — besides 14 kinds of cereal that no one’s ever heard of — is their “in-and-out quick” quality. You don’t expect to spend much time standing in line at the Dollar Store. Or so I used to think.

Bob and I had stopped in to buy some cleaning supplies: paper towels, sponges, anti-bacterial wipes. Directly in front of us was a gentleman with only a few items in his cart. Ahead of him, but slightly off to the side, was a middle-aged woman with a completely full cart. “Wow,” I said to Bob, “I’m glad we didn’t get behind her. She must be waiting for someone to help her take all that stuff to her car.”

At that moment, the fellow in front of us checked out, and said to the woman, “Thanks so much for letting me go ahead of you, ma’am.”

“No problem,” she smiled. “It didn’t seem fair to make you wait when you only had a few things.”

Unfortunately, she had no such compunctions when it came to us. We stood behind her for half an hour as she unloaded her cart.

It’s perfectly natural to not want to stand behind someone else.

The Bible tells us, however, that in Heaven the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

Sounds like some of us had better get used to waiting.

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