Patience

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In East Africa, unlike West Africa where my parents are from, things move at a slower pace — much slower. That’s what I like about it, the laid-backness, the white lie that a wait will only take ten minutes when it actually take half an hour, the “Don’t worry, don’t worry, it’ll come soon,” or the perpetual “I’m on my way.” All you need is patience, a lot of it, and you’ll be fine. But still I forget. Maybe I’ve left my book at home or I’m already late to a meeting or I’m just irritated that day, but I want to revert back to my impatient, demanding American self and request that things just run efficiently and on time. On Saturday night, a Rwandan friend picked me up in a taxi and then we both headed to a bar. We were late to meet my friends, and the taxi driver, who had no idea where he was, kept getting lost.

“I don’t why I am so confused, I used to work at Village Market (the plaza where we were going) for four years,” the driver confessed. I sighed, annoyed that he couldn’t find such a well-known landmark.

“Why don’t you just get back to the main road? I’m sure you’ll be able to find your way then,” my friend said encouragingly.

The driver got lost again and had to ask directions. I wanted to jump out and find another taxi.

“Let’s think about this, do you remember how we got here?” my friend asked gently. I turned to him, amazed at his patience.

Later, when the driver got turned around again, my friend expressed a little annoyance for the first time: “I’m sorry to say, but this is getting very frustrating.”

I burst out laughing at his extreme patience in the face of wandering around directionless at night. The driver promised that he would deliver us there as soon as he possibly could. Somehow, he did.

Photo via Flickr user rogiro

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