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Editor's column: This waiting is killing me

May 5, 2012
By Per Peterson , Marshall Independent

Waiting in line is really no big deal anymore. It's not fun by any stretch, but it has become such an accepted practice that you would hardly notice you're doing it unless you have to use the bathroom.

Plus, there's nothing we can do about it.

Last weekend, my daughter and I waited for 10 minutes to be seated at a local eatery. Ten minutes is nothing in the Cities. In Marshall, it's a news flash. It was the first time I've had to wait to be seated in Marshall. Ever. I suppose that's a good sign though; it's good to see local restaurants popping at the seams with hungry customers.

Wal-Mart has do-it-yourself check-out lines where you can feel like a cashier for five minutes (I thought I already had a job). Problem is, how many times do you get stuck behind someone who was bypassed by technology 10 years ago?

And these systems aren't bug-proof, either. Try scanning a bag of potatoes and you'll know what I mean.

I'm on board with paying at the pump at gas stations, although there's something to be said about interacting with another human being in the store. We're losing that connection to one another more and more every day.

There are other things we wait for on a daily basis that test our patience because we have no control over them. We wait for the weather to clear up. We wait for the foursome in front of us to putt out already. We wait for that trophy buck to saunter into range. We wait for Michele Bachmann to stop yelling pointlessly - Congresswoman, please, you have the mic, no need to yell. These are sporadic moments in our daily lives that we just deal with. And while waiting in line is nothing more than an assumed nuisance these days, there are other areas in our lives where it has become teeth-grindingly painful to sit and wait.

Take computers. Waiting for an Internet connection or for something to download will one day become as acceptable as waiting in a line somewhere. For now though, I'd just as soon skip looking up something online when I can crack a book and look it up the old-fashioned way if it means not having to wait for that blue bar to reach its destination.

Then there's cell phones.

Depending on how a person's voicemail is set up, a caller could be required to wait for far too long to leave a simple message. The time spent waiting isn't as noteworthy as why we have to wait.

First, you may get the voice of the owner of the phone: "Hey, this is John. I'm unable to answer my phone right now, but leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can." Then you get the computer, which will throw at you a myriad of options, almost enough to make you forget about what you called for in the first place. I don't want options, I just want to leave a damn message.

You can leave a call-back number, you can leave a message at the tone, whenever that comes, you can press "1" to get further options. Oh, and when you're finished recording, you can just hang up. Really. That's what you do when you're done leaving a message - hang up? And a call-back number? Who leaves a call-back number? Isn't that what caller ID is for?

The time spent on the phone essentially talking to no one certainly isn't enormous and it's not enough to ruin your day, it's just annoying, like something-in-your-eye annoying. And I don't like being annoyed, especially when the very thing that's annoying me is designed to make my life easier.

Good things come to those who wait? No, I don't buy that one. If you do, then go ahead and press the pound sign.



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