Patience and people-watching

June Fryman - Contributing columnist

On January 3rd I celebrated another birthday, and this was the year to renew my driver’s license. I planned to go to the license bureau on Monday – my day off — only to learn that Monday, January 2nd was the official New Year’s Day holiday, and the bureau was closed.

I went on Tuesday, which was a work day, so I was wearing my clergy collar. I went over on my lunch hour, and I learned that the Tuesday lunch hour after a holiday weekend is a busy time for the license bureau. ,

I waited awhile. I didn’t mind, really; I’ve become more patient in lines, and I’ve become a people watcher.

Some people didn’t want to wait, so when they walked in and saw the chairs full of waiting people, they left. Others took their number, and when the next number was called and they realized how long the wait would be, they left.

I stayed; I needed my driver’s license renewed. I also saw the “Help Wanted” sign, so clearly, they were understaffed. Then I overheard the telephone conversation of the supervisor telling the person on the line that someone had called in sick today. Things were stacking up for a long wait.

Again, I didn’t mind. I have become more patient, at least for some things.

When our daughters were learning to drive, one of the things I kept telling them was that one way to prevent accidents is to never be in a hurry. Even if you are late, don’t be in a hurry – just try harder next time not to be late.

Saying “never be in a hurry” over and over again actually began to sink in with me. Sometimes I would be in a hurry. Saying it to them started to make me realize that I should really practice what I preach.

So back to the license bureau — I waited and I got my driver’s license renewed — even took a decent picture for once in my life.

About a month later I had to return to get my new license tags and registration. I went on a Monday, my day off, and was casually dressed – and purposely waited until after lunch to possibly miss a crowd. I walked in, took my number, 37, and sat down. Many chairs were already taken. After several minutes came the voice, “Number 30.”

Yes, I was going to wait, and again, I didn’t mind. I saw the “Help Wanted” sign was still there. I also saw the supervisor working with a couple of newly hired people.

Eventually my number was called, and I walked up to the counter, and one of the new people began to help me.

She went through the process, asking me questions, looking at my driver’s license, clicking buttons on her computer. We were almost finished and then she noticed something was wrong.

I had already written the check, but we were going to have to start the process again. She was apologizing, saying it was only her third day. She kept apologizing as I voided the check. I kept saying, “It’s OK, it takes time to learn.”

We went through the process again, answering questions, writing a new check; she kept apologizing, I kept saying, “It’s OK.”

Then the supervisor said, “I knew you would be patient. You’re that pastor of the Lutheran church.”

My eyes got big as I’m wondering if I should know her name, and then she said, “We’ve attended several funerals recently at your church. Thank you for being patient.”

“It’s OK,” I said, turning to leave.

As I’ve mentioned, I didn’t mind waiting because I’ve become a people watcher. Turns out that people are watching us, too.

Rev. June M. Fryman is Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church.

June Fryman

Contributing columnist