There's a magnet on my refrigerator that says "God grant me patience. NOW!" It was given to me by a friend who, upon handing it to me, said matter-of-factly: "Here. This pretty much sums you up."
It's fair to say I am not a patient person. But despite knowing my tolerance level can reach its max with one annoying question, it's a character flaw I've never really worked on internally. My coping mechanism has always been to avoid people and situations I find irritating.
In large part, this is aimed at tourists. I have a strict quota for how many times per winter I can bear the question, "What do they do with the moguls in the summer?" It's usually reached by December 2nd. After that, I tend to turn the volume on my iPod up loudly enough that other people on the chairlift don't bother to include me in their conversations.
However, after this weekend, I vow to have more tolerance for tourists. No matter how many times I need to gently correct them that no, Mitt Romney doesn't own Deer Valley Resort.
Strangely enough, this new desire to have more patience came to me in the middle of San Francisco, as I watched my mother narrowly avoid becoming roadkill. My sister, Heather, and my parents have been in San Francisco the past few weeks, where Heather is undergoing treatment for brain cancer. While it's an uncertain and upsetting time, they decided to try to make the most of it. I flew out to meet them over the weekend and we all had a good old-fashioned "radiation vacation."
After a weekend of getting on the wrong busses, asking policemen where to buy tickets for any number of attractions (including a mirror maze), and racking up hundreds of dollars in fines because the parking rules go something like this: Parking is permitted on the right side of the street from 2 a.m.-7 a.m., but only on days that start with "B," on purple days you must park on the left side of the street, on the 41st day of the month, parking is free, but only for vehicles with five or more wheels -- we just gave up and started collecting fines -- I realized this: I need to be more patient with the tourists in Park City.
As noted, this realization hit me after watching my mother almost get hit by a car. She grew up in Northern California and as we walked by the piers in San Francisco, she began reminiscing about her childhood. How her dad would bring her and her sisters to the old Fisherman's Wharf. How, back then, there were no restaurants or tacky tourist shops, just boats of fresh fish. She told us how her dad would haggle with the fisherman and eventually they'd leave with armfuls of 'the catch of the day.'
My mom's dad died when she was only 12, so her memories are limited. But when she does have them, the nostalgia hits her like a crashing wave. In an instant, she got out her camera and ran to take a photo of the old pier where she recalled her dad bartering for crabs half a century ago.
The only problem was, there was now a busy street where he once conducted business and in her haste to remember the past, she forgot about those four lanes of very present traffic.
But apparently, the good folks of San Francisco are used to that kind of the thing -- women in their 60s, camera and shopping bags in tow, jumping in front of trains, busses and cars.
Because no one screamed or rudely honked. No one rolled down their window and yelled at her for the pileup she caused or hollered for her to hurry up. I heard brakes screech and am pretty sure she was responsible for bumper damage, but the drivers I could see all smiled and gestured for her to continue on and get the photo she wanted. Then they slowly drove off smiling at her.
As soon as I realized my mom wasn't going to be run over, and no one was being nasty about her mistake, it made me realize I could stand to be a little more tolerant of the tourists in Park City. I will try to have more patience. Of course, it will be easier if I had it NOW.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.