I think the following article from The Sunday Times reflects so well our own behaviour (i.e. at least
mine for most of what you'll be reading). Now you eventually know what person I am. Or are all teachers like that...
...after second thought: I have always thought that the English like waiting in queues....??????
I am pathologically impatient and incapable of waiting for anything. I’m always stomping out of shops,
bars or restaurants because the queue’s too long and I can’t be bothered to wait, and I would rather go
without the thing I came in for than stand around gormlessly for ages. So I was interested to read last
week that “time rage” is not merely yet another of my depressing failings but a very contemporary problem
that is now experienced by vast numbers of people, many of them aged 18-29.
Like them, I have a wallet full of cheques that need paying in, except that paying them in would involve
queueing up at the bank, and queueing up at the bank is such a nightmare of slowness and boredom that I
try to delay doing it for as long as is humanly possible.
Like them I can’t entirely be bothered to go to the hairdresser or the dentist, because hairdressers and
dentists are really slow; and like them I have in the past abandoned a laden trolley midway through a
supermarket shop on the grounds that the queues are too long and I’d rather have no food than stand about
for hours. I’ve been on my way to parties, got stuck in traffic and turned around and gone home.
If I’m meeting someone and they’re more than 10 minutes late, I leave. I walk out of restaurants if a
menu or the offer of drinks doesn’t materialise within about three minutes. If service is not immediately
forthcoming in shops, I also leave (and heave dramatic sighs). If people who are supposed to know stuff —
computer salesmen, or cable TV engineers — don’t in fact know anything at all, I become furious. If I buy
a bog-standard fridge and am told delivery will take four to six weeks, I cancel the order. I once cancelled
a date with a girlfriend on the basis that she talked too slowly and it drove me mad (not my finest moment).
At least I’m not alone. According to a survey carried out by Easymoney.com, young British people have
£400m worth of uncashed cheques sitting in their wallets because of bank/boredom issues. Two-fifths of
young adults would forgo a trip to the doctor because they can’t bear to wait for an appointment
(one-sixth have become ill as a result). Three in 10 said they didn’t have time to go to the dentist.
More than a third said they’d rather have bad hair than wait for an appointment at the hairdressers’.
One in six won’t give blood because it takes too long. Twenty-nine per cent regard queueing as
“an absolute waste of time”.
The idea that patience is a thing of the past is not attractive, and the idea that young people are even
more insufferably impatient than someone like me is really alarming. I used to be relatively patient in my
youth, but that was before children and middle-age struck and I discovered the horrible feeling that life
is accelerating out of control. Still, at least I am able to pull myself together and summon up an iota of
patience when it is really called for.
The odd thing about the young people who were questioned is that they seem too young to be impatient.
Impatience is earned, because you get to a point in life when there’s just too much to do — and not enough
time to do any of it in — that standing around waiting for a waiter to deign to notice you is just not good
enough. I would imagine that the average 18-year-old doesn’t feel these pressures, and yet here they are,
not giving blood because it takes ages. What would they be doing instead? Texting? (Texting is another
manifestation of impatience, actually — a whole generation are too busy to use their vocal cords.)
The inevitable consequence of impatience is an erosion in manners. Impatience is behind road rage and air
rage, property rage and many other charmless modern afflictions, but it is also behind the teenager at the
post office counter huffing and puffing because the old lady collecting her pension is taking her time.
It’s about people at the checkout rolling their eyes when some harassed woman with a couple of small
wriggly children in tow realises she’s left her purse at home. It’s about being in too much of a hurry
to say “hello” to people, or “please”, or “thank you”; and as such it has a depressing effect on society.
I think young people’s new-found time rage is part of their delusional sense of entitlement. I don’t know a
single young person who plans to embark on their future career at the bottom of the ladder: all of them
believe they will somehow catapult over the little jobs and land a big fat one simply because they are so
fabulous. At one level this means a generation of children thinking their illiteracy is irrelevant because
they’re going to be a pop star or footballer; at another it means an awful lot of disappointment,
which causes bitterness and disillusion.
The fact that time rage has affected a specific generation tells us that it might be time to dump the
parenting manuals and revisit the profoundly unfashionable notion that it’s okay to be prescriptive with
your children. Because surely all of this stems from the problems that arise when children reach their
early adulthood never having been told off, or (constructively) criticised, or taught manners, or had any
Time rage is a direct consequence of children growing up being told, both at home and at school, that
everything about them is exceptional, that nothing about them could do with improving, and, fatally,
that everyone is as clever and talented as everyone else, which is simply not true. No wonder these
former Little Emperors get irritated when things don’t happen exactly as they want.
From: The Sunday Times, March 26, 2006