Two incidents got me frustrated today, but as I've had time to think of both I wonder how much the problem is them and how much is me.
First, this morning I was at the grocery store and had a big cart full of stuff. There were two lanes with checkers: an express lane, which was empty, and a lane for any size which had one customer at the checkstand. Just before I got to the non-express lane, a woman with a small basket of items squeezed in front of me. The express lane was empty, and she had few enough items to qualify. So I said to her, "Excuse me, but I think the express lane is open." (Ours still had someone being helped.) But she casually said back to me, "Oh, no, I'm OK here, thanks." So even though I couldn't go to the empty checkstand and she could, she still occupied my lane and thus made me have to wait longer. I could tell this probably didn't occur to her, and I don't think she was being malicious. Or maybe she was completely aware of what was going on and just thought I was being too pushy. She hadn't taken any of the items out of her basket yet, but I suppose she might have found it heavy and didn't feel like hassling with a lane change just so I could be spared a minute or so of time. But at the time, I felt like Elmer Fudd in a Looney Tunes cartoon where his face gets so red somebody fries an egg on top of his scalp. Which one of us was right or wrong?
Then this afternoon I was in my car in the Central Eastside industrial area by the river and had just come off the Marquam Bridge and I-5 when the warning lights for an oncoming train started to flash. There's always about a ten second gap between when the lights first start to flash and when the arms of the railroad crossing barrier come down. There was a car in front of me began slowing down before the lights even started to flash. The driver must have heard the train a couple blocks down honking its horn. By the time the lights at our crossing were flashing, she already had her car at a complete stop. Meanwhile, I'd had to slow down because she had before the lights came on, and so I was forced to stop for a train when, had she not been there or even been there and simply acted without the extra-train perception like a normal driver, I would have easily got past without being halted by the crossing.
For a second time in one day, I was fuming at a situation where somebody else's slow pace affected my faster one. With the chance to look at it more calmly now that some time has passed, I realize I have no more claim to be able to go my speed than they do theirs. And of course in the case of the driver, she was being safe whereas I was planning to push things by hurrying past an oncoming train (albeit one slow as a tortoise). But in both cases, I was angered by how each person seemed to take that extra step that made me have to hit the brakes - both in a figurative and literal sense.
Had the express lane at the grocery store already been occupied with customers, I wouldn't have thought twice about the woman in front of me. If anything, I'd be thankful she had a small amount of groceries. But when a chance to do the most reasonable thing presented itself -- for her, as someone with 10 items or less to go to the express lane, both to serve herself by getting through more efficiently and also to avoid clogging the regular lane -- she willingly passed it up. But I, in obsessing over such an unimportant and infinitesimal amount of potentially saved time, am also revealing my own unfortunate lack of patience.
Yesterday I was going through a drawer and found an old printout I'd made from a website that provided an evaluation of how my brain works in terms of left-right hemispheres and visual-auditory perception. One of the last things the readout said was, "A possible barrier to using your talents to the fullest may be the excess attention that you can tend to give details in your day-to-day operations and learning. You can acknowledge the existence of the bigger picture but concentrate on the details and expect that the picture will emerge from the details themselves."
I feel torn about this. Part of me feels contrite, because I believe these criticisms are valid ones. I am way too hurried and impatient so much of the time in the everyday goings on of errands, work, and so on. But I'm also not completely willing to let go. Or maybe I'm not always equipped to do so. Maybe both my phantom adversaries from today were wrong, but I'm also a bit of a fool for allowing myself to get distracted by it.
Incidentally, that brain evaluation had some other interesting observations:
You strive towards goals and this, coupled with the active nature of your learning preference, creates a sense of you being driven. Your tolerance of ambiguity is, at times, in conflict with your preference for the straight path and directness in everything. You tend to be as impatient with yourself as you are with others.
You have enough auditory learning capability to somewhat balance your more natural chaotic learning style. It is likely that you slide into the more sequential auditory learning mode when you get frustrated with the amount of input to be processed.
You are strongly left-hemisphere dominant and show somewhat of a preference for visual learning, a positive combination of styles.
Your left-hemisphere dominance implies that you are strongly organized, logical and detail oriented. Visual preference indicates that you learn in an active, simultaneous multidimensional fashion.