Joan Waldron is a member of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

I punch the crossing button on A Avenue and hear “wait.” The male voice is so stern that I chuckle.

Webster’s Dictionary says that the verb wait means “to remain inactive in readiness or expectation.” I didn’t follow Webster’s definition the other day while I was waiting in line for gasoline. The cars in front of me were not moving. So I switched lanes to what looked like an improvement.

I should have known better from my past experiences. Then it was my turn but I couldn’t find my debit card. I had to turn my purse upside down and give it a hard shake to get the card. And, yes, the attendant was very patient. When I finally got my gas, four cars from my original line passed me. So I laughed at my impatience and drove on.

Funny though, I remember going shopping in the A & P in New Jersey and having my ankles assaulted by little old ladies with shopping carts who were fussing and in a hurry. I wondered what their hurry was and told myself, “I will never be that way when I am older.”

When I told my story to my family, I got some interesting information. Eddie said that he keeps it simple and just refuses to wait. My oldest daughter, who is semi-retired, said now she is not in such a rush and does not miss the pressure. She lets cars ahead of her in traffic. She does not complain and shout to herself if she is caught in a parking lot situation on the freeway because she doesn’t have to be anywhere on time, and I observed that she is super patient with her three and six-year-old boys.

Of course there is the message “we value your business, please wait in the line and someone will be with you shortly. Your approximate waiting time is 20 minutes.” Sometimes I put the phone on speaker mode and sometimes I scream some mildly foul word into the phone and hang up. Now that I know 30-year-old Eddie won’t wait, I feel so much better.

According to my daughter, Katherine, one of the first words uttered by children is “wait.” That is because the adults talk so fast that the younger family members have to get their message in before it is too late. There is a jockeying for position and talking loudly. Of course a “please listen” is the best way to get the adult’s attention.

My favorite story about waiting concerns one of my grandchildren. Months before Dec. 25, Andy started singing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and “Jingle Bells” in the shower. His eyes sparkled as he went to bed on Christmas Eve. At 4:30 a.m. he woke his parents and asked them to start opening presents. He was told he had to wait until 7:30 a.m. and so he camped out on the couch.

All that waiting was so worthwhile as he sat on his new bike. And because it was Christmas, he was allowed to ride around the kitchen. All his good behavior must have impressed Santa. He can still be heard singing Christmas songs as he takes his shower.

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