A Lesson in Patience from a Broken Window

I warned you that I was going to start telling some stupid stories from my misspent youth. The time has come. This one goes way back to when I was a little kid, maybe 9 years old.

One morning before school, my mom asked me to take out the trash. No problem. But when I tried to open the storm door on the back porch, it was stuck. This had been an ongoing problem and I knew the solution. I’d have to go back out the front door, run all the way back around the house, and open the sticky door from the outside. Hell no!

I was in a hurry, running late to school. So I had another idea. I punched my fist through the glass, reached my arm around, and opened the door from the outside. I took the garbage out to the street, and started walking to school. No problem.

The Immediate Pain of Impatience

On my walk to school, I noticed some pain just below my right thumb. I didn’t think much about it. But then I looked at my shirt sleeve. It was covered in blood. When I checked the cut, I knew I needed to go back home and get a bandaid.

I told my mom that I had accidentally smashed the garbage can into the window and that the glass had flown and cut my hand. It was a fucking lie and I knew it. She believed me, but I felt horrible.

I showed her the cut and asked her for a bandaid. She took one look at my hand and said I needed stitches and we went off to the doctor’s office.

Now I’d tripled my pain. First, there was the pain of the cut, then the pain of stitches, and finally the pain of being dishonest. My impatience wasn’t paying off.

Patience Might Not Be a Virtue, but…

we can learn some valuable lessons from our stupid mistakes.

  1. Lack of patience can lead to bad decisions: Breaking glass with your bare hand is not smart. I definitely know that now. I should have known that then. But I made a stupid decision because I was in a hurry.
  2. Pain might be an immediate or delayed result of impatience: In my case, the pain was immediate. But sometimes we might make a decision due to impatience that has delayed results. You might steal some money at the office because you’re almost broke. You seemingly get away with it. But a month later it’s discovered on a security camera and you get a call from your employer. You get fired. Delayed pain.
  3. Lack of patience may lead to being deceptive: In my case, I lied to my mom. I know kids lie. You probably won’t believe me, but I didn’t lie much as a kid. So telling a lie made me feel miserable. I kept that information secret for years. My mom never knew the truth until I was in my 40s.

Impatience doesn’t pay. Next time you want to run that yellow light turning red, remember that it could lead to pain. You might get a ticket, or worse, you might get into an accident. Take it from a kid who punched through a glass window, you’d be better off to wait the extra two minutes.