Last week I had to go up to New York for a few days. Not only was the contrast between life in New York and Sanibel so different, but so was the personality I became.
In Sanibel, I'm Dr. Jekyll. In New York I become Mr. Hyde.
Is patience a virtue? You'd never know it visiting New York. The horns honk. The cab drivers swear at slow moving vehicles driving more leisurely in front of them. The harried executive studies his watch and Blackberry in panic in the back seat of a taxi knowing that he's going to be 10 minutes late for an important meeting.
Patience is not a virtue in New York. It's the exception. Impatience is the prevailing condition. It's a way of life.
After several days of outrunning octogenarians for available taxis, crossing streets against the light, and braving the ongoing onslaught of squealing brakes, it's not easy to return to Sanibel. It calls for a period of readjustment and re-entry.
The New York impulses and shoot-from-the-hip knee jerk reactions are deeply ingrained. It starts with choosing seats on the plane for the return trip. My wife, who accompanied me, suggests that we sit in the rear for a better view. I insist that we sit right in front so that we can deplane quickly and get a fast start.
"What's your rush?" She asks. "We're heading back to Sanibel to rewind. There's no need to rush."
"No need to rush?" I shoot back. "What do you mean there's no need to rush? The early bird gets the worm, you know."
My wife arches her eyebrow. "Thank you all the same, dear, but I'm not in the mood for a worm. How about oysters at Timbers?"
I pay no attention to her rejoinder. I'm rushing out of the plane to head to the baggage claim area so that I can find our luggage quickly and go find our car. I knock over three wheel chairs and almost get run over by the courtesy van carrying handicapped passengers but manage to find the claim area before the rest of the passengers disperse from the plane.
No matter. The carousel went round and round and round and round but no luggage came out. I paced back and forth while my wife eyed me with an amused grin.
I ignore her. I'm ready to grab our luggage only to observe that when the luggage began to roll almost all the other passengers on our flight picked up their luggage before ours rolled out.
My impatience barometer is about to burst. The Mr. Hyde in me is furious. "What's going on here?" I shout to no one in particular.
My wife says "Honey, why don't you relax? We don't have any appointments. What difference does it make what time we arrive in Sanibel?"
"It's the principle that's important. We shouldn't be kept waiting this long. Our luggage should have been out by now," I say.
We finally get our luggage, find our car and head towards Sanibel. As if by magic, when we finally catch sight of Sanibel as our car crosses the causeway, Mr. Hyde disappears and Dr. Jekyl emerges. My impatience barometer begins to plummet. As we approach Periwinkle, my wife notices that there's a very slow moving driver in front of us. I note her body language. She's expecting me to blow a casket.
"Relax, dear," I say gently. "Don't be so impatient. I'm sure the driver of that car in front of us is a stranger to Sanibel and doesn't know the lay of the land yet. We're in no rush. We'll be home soon."
By Art Stevens