Maybe it was the coffee, but my first hour
of waiting went by very slowly. When I
walked in, I saw the donuts sitting there.
The smaller waiting area was full. It had
the big screen TV. I wasn’t interested in
the donuts or the TV. The other waiting
area was in the center of a showroom.
The children’s playroom was nearby and
certainly within earshot. TV noise or
kids? I put my case down on a chair and
decided to get my second cup of coffee
for the day. They had a Starbucks machine
with two choices of ground beans for one
size styrofoam cup. I added creamer and
a little sugar and returned to my seat.
Two little ones came flying by. Toys in
hand and a bunch of dominos crashing
to the hard linoleum floor. Could I have
been wrong? I thought this being a long
wait would be a good time to start a new
old book. New, because I hadn’t read it
yet; old, because it has been on my shelf
for about seventeen years or so waiting
for this moment. About “codebreaking and
American diplomacy, 1930-1945.” But the
sounds of kids running, playing, and being
chased by their grandmother was getting
to me. My patience is stellar. (Well, in the
vacuum I live in day-to-day. No people. No
calls. No reason to be impatient.) This was
different. I love kids and smile warmly
when I see them in commercials or news
clips. One of the service reps came out
and told the mother that it would take
another hour. I could hear the groans.
Not from the kids; from the adults
hoping their car was ready. I already ate
the glazed donut I said I wasn’t going to eat.
The music coming out of the speakers in
the showroom was static as far as I was
concerned. I couldn’t hear or understand
a word. As I read about the state of our
cryptology efforts in 1919, I heard Karen
Carpenter singing “Close To You.” The
grandmother’s phone was bigger than
his hand but he took it anyway and sat
in a chair close to me. He started to grunt
every four seconds. Loud grunts. How on
earth did I do that? How did I raise two kids?
The little girl ran by, mashed my foot, looked
up and said, “scuseme” with big eyes, cute as
can be. I thought to myself, “Well at least
she is a polite little terror.” Static music was
interrupted by an announcement asking me
to report to the service desk. The woman to
my right looked up from her book and gave
me an “aren’t you lucky” look and smile. As I
made my way to my car, I said a silent prayer
of thanks for every parent in the universe and
for their kids. For peace, quiet, and for coffee.
And for the gallant grandparents who do more
than their fair share. I drove home and put a
kettle on as I wasn’t sure if I wanted coffee or
tea with my sandwich. I put three teaspoons of
Medaglia D’Oro espresso instant in my mug and
happily returned to my vacuum zone for the day.