Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

But Why Must We Wait?

Marielle Fibish/Collegian

I stand, idle. People are hovering, they and their ravenous appetites invading all personal space I once thought I had. I think to myself, I probably shouldn’t have chosen sushi for dinner tonight. When the meticulous man was finally crafting my sushi, it felt as time was standing still, laughing at me flinch.

I sit, idle. Unwashed articles of clothing scatter the floor, and honestly, who knows whose boxer shorts are crumbled under the table? I stare at the washing machines, not even one open for my overflowing hamper. Fifty-two minutes of waiting crawls by.

Just this weekend, the Haigis mall was a cluster of impatient souls as the bus arrived 30 minutes off-schedule. It was hot, unpleasant, and of course, a long wait.

In college, we do so much waiting it can be sickly. Indeed, we are accustomed to such active and hurried lifestyles that the act of waiting around in line or otherwise can seem painfully sedentary and unnatural. Now obviously everyone’s levels of patience differ,, however the stress of getting to the wanted destination begins to build inside of every student.

Waiting is a tedious and unwanted activity, but it’s unavoidable. It’s a part of life we’d prefer to dodge, but instead, we’ve grown accustomed to its unwanted presence. So why does it bother us? It is essential to understand the trace of the frustration so we can find ways to tolerate its badgering effects.

“The Psychology of Waiting in Lines” by David Maister is a piece targeted towards restaurants, stores, doctor’s offices, or simply any place that may have an inevitably long waiting line. The text thoroughly explains the reasons why human beings find waiting to be so difficult.

Maister explains that the way in which we measure and value time depends upon the specific action. A 20-minute period can speed away, or it can linger and drag. Maister makes the point that unoccupied time seems to last longer than occupied time. If you’re sitting, waiting for the bus alone and without your Daily Collegian, your 10-minute wait will automatically evolve to forever.

Humans are anxious creatures. Not only are we self-conscious about our appearance and actions, we tend to approach the act of waiting with uncertainty. Sometimes we think too little. But, when it comes to waiting in lines, we think an immense and unnecessary amount. We question its worth. Is it really OK for me to wait 10 minutes in line just to buy a shot-glass at the UStore? Did I choose the fastest moving line? Oh, no. It’s not moving at all. Is this bus really late, or did I miss the time of arrival? Unoccupied time leads us to be thoughtful, and eventually we panic.

Like many, I need a time window. There is some comfort when a restaurant tells you, “Just a 10 to 15 minute wait” as opposed to “Just wait here and we’ll serve you as soon as we can.” The time frame gives me certainty. People love to be aware of their environment, and if you are given a broad answer and no time frame, it can make you anxious and sometimes upset. Student Molly Johannes agrees, saying, “Waiting is awful because of the whole not-knowing situation. I start to fidget, and try to remain sane when it seems like time is never moving.”

Understanding our behavior while we wait allows us to reflect upon our character. People who are patient are content with the uncertainty, whereas impatient people just want the information, and they want it immediately.

In addition, there is potential for a growth in the amount of anger and agitation we see in any sort of waiting situation due to the changes in modern society. People need to be entertained constantly thanks to rampant changes in technology. There cannot be a boring moment. But with waiting, there will be.

Also, if you think about it, the United States’ population is continually growing. Thus resulting in us doing a lot of waiting, and it may never cease to annoy us.

Whitney Heuschkel is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]


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