Have you ever been screamed at for something that isnt your fault, or that you couldnt help? As a child, i had a very short fuse, and was prone to fighting my brothers over the littlest quarrel. I even fought the boys at school and had very little patience for their antics. Being 8 years old, fighting seemed a quick and easy solution because I could win. Besides that, I was still a kid who believed pouting had the power to change decisions. When I look back at the ticking time bomb I used to be, I can’t help but feel embarrassed at my violence. Of course, as I got older I learned better, as a girl, going through puberty meant boys were stronger than me so I had to learn to use my patience a little better.
My first vivid memory of learning patience was with my brother and dad. My brother and I used to be very evenly matched, being only 11 months apart. We were almost like twins and squabbling was a routine in our day. As the years went on after we turned 8, I discovered he was (very unfairly) getting stronger than me without even doing anything. Soon I was losing our fights, I could no longer release my rage whenever he annoyed me and prodded my weak spots. When I started crying, my father would tell me “Mija, your brother is doing this to get a reaction out of you. If you ignore him and be patient, eventually he will leave you alone. A patient person will win.” As we sat in the car on our way to elementary school, I was learning to be patient the hard way. I had to sit still while my brother mocked me or poked me in the ribs. It felt like being a queens guard. Holding my tongue, I stared straight ahead at the road. I then looked up and caught my father’s eye in the rear view mirror. I have no doubt he could see the determination in my eyes, that I was going to beat my brother in the only way I could, by being patient. Eventually he did get bored, and targeted my little brother next. My Dad proved to be right and I was in the clear! But I still had another obstacle, which would be testing my patience at school.
He finally dropped us off at school and I ran to my best friends, a group of 2nd grade girls who played pretend a little too much. We began to play at recess, and our backpacks soon became a target for a group of boys to steal. They came up with a plan to steal our packs which held our lunches, which is what they really wanted. I was the tomboy of our group, and their champion against any boy. I already had a record of fighting, and needed to solve this without violence. I knew if I strayed from the pile or even looked away to play we’d have some missing lunches. It really pained me to be patient and sit still instead of retaliating with my fists. Luckily I had a good friend to keep me company. I held my fathers words in mind for about 20 minutes until we heard the sound of the bell. Victory was ours. That small step of being patient even for 20 minutes taught me more than violence ever would.
Currently, I work in a fast paced diner, with a million faces who come through in the span of a few hours. Many of our regular customers are usually very kind to begin with and I’ll have a good day at work most of the time. On a Monday night, I was scheduled from 9:00-5:00. After an extremely busy rush in the morning, I looked forward to the slow and calm customers of the evening. When it became 4:00 my spirits rose as I realized I only had an hour to go. I told myself, “alright we can survive this last hour!!” I would soon learn however that I would face a true test of my patience.
“welcome!” I greeted a disheveled elderly couple through our doors, and sat them at a booth. I began to ask them if I could get them any drinks when the woman interrupted me. “Listen, I’m here because you guys have stealing from me, I’ve been charged twice this week for eating here when I’ve only come once!” Her husband sat silently and stared at the table, while she thrust the statements in from of me. “Oh uh..” her outburst caught me by surprise, and I didn’t know what to say at first. Taking a quick look at her statement, I confirmed it to be true that she was charged twice in a week, both bills being similar in price. I reported to the assistant manager, who was equally as puzzled. She was tremendously busy with a pile of paperwork, and said she’d see them soon. We had to all be patients and wait for her to come out. In the meantime, they decided to eat and seemed to temporarily forget about it all. I was making conversation with her and seemed to be making progress getting through her anger. The assistant manager finally came out with records of our charges of that day. Each charge was again, a very similar price, and almost exactly the same meal. I was beginning to think the couple had dementia or a form of Alzheimer’s, as i see it often with our customers. My assistant manager began to explain that we hold no card information, and our cashiers do not even look or touch customer cards as the terminal makes customers insert their own card to pay. The woman was outraged and insisted we stole her info somehow. I was slowly losing my patience over this but remembered it would be over soon. We told her we could not give her any refund and gave her a number to our corporate offices if she still had any further issue. I handed her todays bill and she screamed again, “Why am I being charged again!” I slowly explained this bill was for the meal she had just a few minutes ago. “Oh,” she said, “Well I have an AARP card!” This card gives a 15% discount on meals, so i came back with her new bill and placed it on the table. She slowly looked down at the two receipts, and then yelled “OH NOW WHY DO I HAVE TWO BILLS??” I began saying “Ma’am that is your bill before the discount and then with the discount. You can disregard the old bill.” I was holding it all in and remembering that i had to be a statue, and to just patiently hold my true emotions inside and just ring this lady out already. She waddled up to the front desk,still holding both receipts. As i was bringing up her bill she forgot again what i had just explained to her and began yelling at me again. ‘Oh Boy not again.’ I thought to myself as i explained the process over again. I began shaking as i slid the newer receipt to her. “THIS is all your paying today. Just this. The other receipt is before your discount. If i could just-“ and i reached towards the old bill to toss it out so she wouldn’t be so confused. She screamed again at me exclaiming i was trying to steal from her again, and that she would go home and that if she was double charged for today she would have my job. I took a slow breathe, my manager was no longer there to help and it was just me watching and handling the front end of the store. I remembered all the things I learned about patience, and that my dad believed in me. I couldn’t lose sight of my true goals, not now, after everything i learned. I breathed out slowly and handed back her new receipt of the transaction hoping she wasn’t going to think i was charging her 3 times. I quickly went “Thankyou! Have a nice day!” Before she could say anything else. The customer behind her promptly came to pay and said “Wow, you handled that really well.” “Thankyou so much” and i handed them their receipt and wished them a goo day. I was still shaking over all that yelling in my face, and saw the clock was 5:00. I immediately clocked out as I couldn’t take anymore. Sitting in my car i was really proud of myself because of how i treated the whole situation with patience and a calm look on the outside. I could feel the 8 year old in me wanting to fight back the entire time and not take her rage, but I couldn’t let my Dad down.
Patience is something I’m always learning and always holding at bay. Without my memories of how patience turned out to be better I doubt I would be the same person. I cant ever control the crazy nature of life, so I’ve learned that looking ahead of a bad situation with patience is the only solution to these kinds of things. Including to when customers will scream at you, even if it isn’t your fault.