Thursday, February 5, 2009

A frugal use of time

Hurry up and wait!

In the supermarket, the store manager had to cut back on cashiers due to the economy so now ten people are ahead of me. All of them are irritated, grumbling about the length of the line and how many "important" things they have to do after they leave the grocery store.

Meanwhile, the harried clerk tries everything she knows to do to ring up an item with a damaged bar code. After about five minutes, she gives up and calls the manager for a price check which takes another five minutes as the line grows longer.

Breathing a sigh of relief as the customer finally pays for her purchase and moves toward the exit, the poor cashier is faced with a red-faced, not-so-gentle-man whose clipped words and short manner let her know "she" is to blame for all the world's ills.

And so it goes as she muddles her way through the angry impatient line of customers. When I finally reach the register, the poor girl looks like she'd rather be anywhere else at the moment.

Standing in that line, I have a choice to make about the way I will spend my time. I could get angry, decide I really don't need the item in my hand and storm out of the store. I could join my fellow shoppers in complaining all the way to the register. Or I could redeem or "buy back" the time so it isn't wasted by a bad attitude or simple inactivity.

So what can I do during that waiting time?

1. Being a "fixer" I like to diffuse the growing tension in the line by chatting with my fellow customers. By observing those around me, I can usually find something that makes me smile or a compliment I can give. By turning the attention away from the "wait" to pleasanter topics, the people around me will often relax a bit, enough to prevent them from taking their irritation out on the cashier.

2. If you don't feel comfortable talking to others, you might carry a book with you or even a pocket Bible which you can pull out and read during the waiting time. It's also a great time to memorize a scripture verse. Not only does it get your mind off the wait, it will improve your attitude in general and help you keep spiritually "fit."

3. You can always use the time to pray. Since prayer is conversation with God, you can carry on a mental conversation with Him anywhere. Picture Him standing in line with you and begin talking to Him about any of the needs on your heart - both for yourself or others. Or pray for those in line. You may not know their needs, but He does.

4. Being a writer, I try to keep a pen and notepad with me. Waiting in a long line is a great place to jot down snippets of conversation I hear around me or ideas for a scene in a short story or novel. Who knows? The ire of the customers in line may spark an idea for a blog about anger management or things you can do while waiting in line. LOL!

5. Get organized. Waiting in a line is a great place to organize my life. I can make lists of things I need to do, develop plans to achieve goals, make a list of Christmas gifts I want to buy or make for the grandchildren, make a wish list of craft supplies I need and prioritize it - anything that might need to be organized.

Any of the suggestions above could end up fitting into category #1 as conversation starters or openings to witness about the love of Christ as you wait - definitely a great way to frugally "spend" your waiting time.

So as the lines increase all over town, how do you frugally spend your time? I'd love to hear your suggestions!

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