Thursday, June 18, 2009

rush hour

I've been pondering on a silly philosophical question today -- when (if ever) are you obligated to hurry?

I was thinking about this because of grocery shopping. Grocery store employees do not bag groceries here, so patrons always bag their own. Most Czech customers, well, most Europeans for that matter, buy small amounts so bagging groceries isn't a big deal. I, on the other hand, buy huge amounts at one time and often have one or more small children strapped onto me, pulling on my clothing, trying to run out into the mall (yes, grocery stores are often in malls) ... SO I used to get stressed about all the people behind me in line and work so hard to quickly get my things bagged and out of the way. Often the checker would simply sit and wait for me to bag a few more items, freeing up space for them to scan a few more things. Once a checker ostentatiously checked his watch and closed down his station. He stood looking at me (still bagging, with a baby trying to grab every item) for several minutes before he finally walked off, leaving me alone at the station. On the plus side, sometimes people behind me in line would get frustrated and ask if they could help me bag (that was rude, sometimes people genuinely wanted to be of service and asked if they could help me). I love grocery shopping, but the checkout process stressed me out! I was rushing because I felt obligated to.

But then at some point long ago, I decided not to rush, and grocery shopping is pleasant again. I put my items on the conveyor at a speed I can manage, and I bag groceries the way I want to. I decided that if people are bothered, they can offer to help me. Otherwise, they can wait or they can share the bagging area with me, or they can move to another station. It's fantastic! No more stress. So the question is, do I have some obligation to rush? I don't think so, but it can certainly feel that way when someone's tapping their foot behind you.

What about driving? Are you under some obligation to go the speed limit? It sounds silly to say that you have to drive at the maximum speed limit all the time, and yet other drivers might make you a bit self-conscious if you drive under it. Surely we all have a right to roll down the windows and enjoy a leisurely drive sometimes ...

Of course, there are cases of a true moral obligation to rush -- to someone's aid, for instance. But in general, I say give it up. Getting stressed about needing to leave the house doesn't really help the kids get ready any faster, and it makes our whole family miserable. I banished the bagging groceries stress, and now I'm going to banish the get-your-shoes-on stress. We'll see how it goes.

1 comment:

Meredith Rotz said...

Love your thoughts on "hurrying". It is so true, I usually feel like I should hurry because of others. Good for you to stop the "hurrying" and take your time. I will have to try that sometimes.

Your kids are looking so cute and growing up fast! I guess that is what they do...grow up!