I have a very sharp tongue, I’m very impatient, and it’s a lifelong struggle. ~ Karen Armstrong
Line up, queue, cola, whatever you call it, it still equates to time wasted.
Life is funny. It seems like I’m constantly challenged to work on one of my worst qualities, impatience. It rears its ugly head at certain things like waiting for summer to arrive, being super excited to go somewhere (I’m not the road trip kind of gal), or waiting for Juan to find his keys and put on his shoes when we have someplace to be and I’ve been ready for 10 minutes. So isn’t it a bit ironic that I move to a place where I think they invented line ups?
I understand that I’m living in South America and they have different ways of doing things; and I get that Caracas is a very large, somewhat disorganized city, but people here dislike line ups just as much as I do. Some days are filled with dread because you have more than one thing to do. You constantly have to consider how much time will be spent waiting.
It goes something like this: I have to go to the doctor’s office. Um it’ll take me 45 minutes to an hour to drive there, try to find parking (always a challenge) wait a minimum of 3 hours for a 10 minute appointment, go to the bank, but try to find parking again, which can be around 20 minutes depending on where the bank is located, wait up to an hour in the bank. There is no swiping of the debit card here. Everything is still pretty much paper driven; you know, how it was 20 years ago when you had to fill out the withdrawal or deposit slip, plus your photo is taken and you have to ink your thumb print if you’re cashing cheques. People are very weary of bank machines and won’t really use them if they’re situated outside of the bank. No matter, there are line ups for those too. Next, get some gas and pick up groceries on the way home. Four seemingly small errands can take up to 6 hours, not very efficient and incredibly frustrating. Of course the time will vary slightly depending on the order and the time of day you do your errands.
Can see my problem? There are even line ups for line ups! You think I’m joking, but it’s very common for government offices to employ this. You stand in line for 45 minutes to an hour (seems like the magical number) to get the information of where you’re supposed to go, only to find the right place and wait another hour for less than five minutes with the person you need to speak with. Ah, bureaucracy, you got to love it. Not!
Of course all of my Latino students laugh at me. They employ the “Silly Kim, you should know better” conversation. I’m glad to know that my frustrations are their amusements. They give me tips like bring a book or magazine; pack some water and something to snack on. These are good, but wouldn’t it be easier if things were just a tiny bit more efficient?
I know complaining doesn’t solve anything, but some days it sure helps to vent a little. I’m learning to deal with it, but trust me when I say it’s challenging.
Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead. ~Mac McCleary
You’ve heard me talk about it before, so it’s not the first and probably won’t be the last time I mention traffic. It’s a monster. It’s a being all of its own. I’ve tried describing the cars like marching ants, but most times they’re like the snakes on Medusa’s head. Everybody is going in every imaginable direction, including the wrong one. It really is a form of anarchy.
Although the horns blare, mostly as a form of warning from approaching motorcycles, people here really just go with the flow. There isn’t road rage like you’d expect. Tempers flare, mine included and I don’t even drive here, but drivers have learned not to take things personally and they let whatever has offended them pass. This is a lesson I need to apply to my life.
There is never a great time to run errands here. Pretty much every hour is rush hour. I normally have to mentally prepare myself if I know we’ll be in the car all day. It took us 1/2 an hour to get through 3 traffic lights on Monday. Are you starting to understand my pain?
Today Juan and I went to try to look for a car to buy. It’s a next to impossible feat. Buying a used car is very expensive, almost 3 times the price of what you’d pay in Canada. There is no rhyme or reason. Can you imagine paying $14 000 for a 15 year old Chevy? I think not. Crazy, isn’t it? There are two main reasons for this: the price of gas is practically free (we pay about $0.26 for a tank) and there is a mafia that controls the market. People list cars, the mafia buys it, repairs it (they have their own mechanics) and then they inflate the price. It’s frustrating as hell.
I know what you’re thinking, just go to a dealership and buy a new or used one there. Here’s the thing: if you can find a dealership that actually has cars in it (hard to picture isn’t it, but we went by 5 or 6 today and not one had a car in it), you order a car (which takes up to a year to arrive), only to find out that what they have for you isn’t at all what you’ve ordered. In this most common scenario you have one of two choices to make: buy the car or walk away and wait another year. 10 times out of 10, people buy a car they don’t even want. It’s a serious problem on many, many levels.
Although it felt like it, we didn’t spend our entire day in the car. We stopped by a fruit and veggie market to pick up some fresh herbs (which cost pennies) for tomorrow night’s pasta and then we went to a fruit stand to have some juice. There I tried a fruit I have never heard of; it’s called nispero. Nispero has the same skin color as a kiwi, without the fuzz. The favor was sweet; almost like a pear and the texture was a bit grainy. I liked it. Juan tells me that people here make ice cream with it, now that I’d like to try.
I’m pretty big on giving myself rewards if I’ve had a great day (meaning my swearing wasn’t at full capacity). Today’s reward was a plant. We stopped by a florist and picked up the cutest little fern (not entirely sure that’s what it is) and some flowers for Juan’s mom. Plants make me happy. Once we move to the island, our place will look like a jungle!
My other reward for being patient today? A Campari! Salud