I went to the grocery this afternoon.
Yes, I KNOW it's the day before Christmas. And yes, I KNOW that qualifies me as officially insane considering I had nothing to buy that couldn't wait until after the holiday. I just didn't get the weekly grocery run done over the weekend and was uncomfortably low on cheese. I suppose I could have stretched the cheese stores laid in for another day or so but why chance it if I didn't absolutely have to?
So! Before I even left the house, as I was getting dressed in fact, I told myself, "Self! The pants you are now putting on are your patience pants. No matter how bad traffic is mucked up, and no matter how ridiculous the parking situation at the King Soopers is, and no matter how many unlicensed grocery cart drivers you encounter in the aisles today, you will be patient, kind, and generous. You've got no pressing engagements after this other than a vacation nap and that can be delayed as long as necessary. Remember to breathe. Remember to smile. Remember to say 'pardon me' as pleasantly as possible."
So that's what I did.
And it worked.
I took my time. I waited my turn. I even gave away my turn on a few occasions and waited some more.
When I got to the cheese aisle - the very last aisle - and a man jumped out in front of me for the second time in less than 2 minutes, he blushed and apologized all over himself for doing it again. I told him, "Sir? No worries. I've got my patience pants on and you just go right on ahead and get what you need. I can wait."
He started laughing. He said, "Those must be some mighty magical pants! I wish they sold those kind of pants in department stores. We could all of us use attitude britches like the ones you've got on."
And I realized he was right.
I am, more often than I'd like to admit, ridiculously impatient. With other people but mostly with myself. What I realized today when he spoke is that, when I'm patient, I'm also more kind, more generous, happier. More relaxed, less anxious, and less depressed. Patience breeds so many other wonderful things!
I wish there actually was a fantasy fabric woven with virtue that I could slip into every day so that I wouldn't have to consciously remind myself to be a certain way. Too often I am the one behind the wheel cursing at "idiot" drivers, swearing at "inconsiderate shoppers", harumphing at the general masses of "stupidity" I encounter. If I just taught myself to have a little patience, my stress would be reduced to something so minuscule I wouldn't even have to contemplate how to manage it.
Alas, there is not.
So I hope to remember this fashion lesson as a cognitive exercise. Everyone is tired after work and during a long commute. Everyone has somewhere to go, somewhere to be, someone depending on them to do a good job. No one is trying to get in my way or impede me from doing what I want or need to do. They're just trying to do what they have to do so they can get home to where their hearts are, to where their comfy clothes are, so they can relax and destress...just like me.
Patience pants may not actually exist physically but mentally patience pants should be worn every day. At least by me.
PS I was rewarded for my patience, by the way. Moments after I picked a check out aisle at the store, my most favorite check out clerk took over for the young girl who'd been scanning that lane. He's my favorite not because he's particularly personable - he's honestly quite shy and struggles to banter - but because he's fast and also because I see him as a social challenge. I honestly normally seek his lane out if I see him working because he is so efficient with the added bonus of liking to see how much I can draw him out. He recognizes me now and greets me much more warmly. Today I got to know that he's Jewish and that he plans to sleep the day away tomorrow. Because he can. Because there's not much else to do. Happy Belated Hanukkah, Dude. You rock. You were one of the gifts I received this year. Whether you know it or not.