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A few weeks ago, I attended an evening lecture on aviation safety. Asked afterwards by my flight instructor how the presentation had been, my immediate reaction had been to lament that it had taken the guest speaker two hours to disseminate information that should have taken twenty minutes. My instructor inquired whether I had found the information useful. I conceded that the presentation had been informative. However, although I did not push the point with an unreceptive audience, the fact that the content had been interesting had not, in my humble opinion, sufficiently compensated for the excruciatingly slow pace at which the information had been disseminated. If I had not made a strategic error by sitting mid-row and closest to the wall � i.e., with no incognito escape route � there was no doubt in my mind that I would have bailed on the lecture after 40 minutes. Or maybe 30. As I sat twitching in my metal, folding chair, it occurred to me that I had sat through plenty of dull, three-hour lectures during law school and had rarely, if ever, felt such a sense of impatience. I did not have any pressing work assignments waiting for me. In fact, I did not have anything that needed to be done after the meeting except go home. Yet my sense of frustration at the time that was being wasted by the shaggy dog presentation style approached the “I’d fake a migraine, if it meant I could leave” level. Interestingly, increased feelings of impatience after entering the workforce became a topic of conversation at a recent associate happy hour. It was clear that most associates had noticed a change in themselves, and were wrestling with feelings of guilt over the prospect of becoming an impatient person. After all, everyone knows that patience is a virtue. As I sat listening to one particularly sympathetic tale of an associate who had nearly lost it with a car rental clerk who could not seem to understand why failing to produce a car in under 45 minutes should be cause for frustration, I couldn’t help but wonder: Of all the things to feel guilty about, were feelings of impatience really one of them? Almost everything is in how you characterize it. Thus, the difference between my dictionary’s definitions of impatience – “restless, prone to irritation” and “the inability to tolerate delay” – is huge. While a restless, irritable person conjures up images of my former downstairs neighbor, an inability to tolerate delay sounds almost haute couture. What’s more, I didn’t hear any associates complaining about delay per say; it was unreasonable or unnecessary delay that had sparked feelings of impatience. Clearly, and as my parents have occasionally reminded me since I started working, not everyone functions on lawyer time. Becoming frustrated when your child takes half an hour to tell you a story that doesn’t have a beginning, middle or end, is undesirable. Expecting information to be distilled in order to maximize each six minute increment is (probably) unreasonable. Asking that other adults to respect that your time is valuable, and experiencing feels of impatience when they fail to do so, is not.

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