Yes, I realize this is cheese and not lunch meat. But it's the only photo of a deli counter that I have. How many photos of deli counters have you taken?

I never purchase deli meats at the deli counter.  Instead, I buy those overpriced low-quality prepackaged meats that come in plastic containers.  Why?  Because it is faster.

But today, as I zipped past the lunch meat case, I stopped.  Why was I in such a hurry?  I couldn’t for the life of me remember.  So I took a number.  Three minutes later I was being waited on by a very nice deli counter lady, who not only took the time to make sure that she was slicing the meat to the thickness that I’d requested (though really, I had no idea what thickness I wanted having never done this before) but even offered me a piece to eat while I waited.

Do you know what?  That tavern ham was pretty damn good.  It almost can’t be considered the same food–or even in the same food family–as that flaccid crap I get in the plastic containers.  I fear I may need to inform my husband about the switch.  He may think that I failed to buy sandwich fixings as there’s no bright red Hillshire Farms tub in the fridge.

Do you know what else?  I had a nice conversation with the deli counter lady.  I never would have had that conversation had I continued to grocery shop at zipping speed.  So today I talked to a nice woman and purchased a higher quality product–simply because I took an extra five minutes out of my day.  And do you know why I was able to take an extra five minutes?  Because working from home has increased my patience threshold.

Notice that I didn’t say ‘because now that I’m not working I have the time’.  It would be ridiculous for me to imply that while working, one does not even have five extra minutes.  Unless one is a 24-hour emergency room nurse, one does, in fact, have the extra five minutes.  I’ve always had the time–I just didn’t want to spent it.  Additionally, after practicing saint-like patience all day teaching middle school, I had zero patience left for anyone or anything else in my life.  Today, after waiting for my ham and swiss cheese, I got in line…behind a senior citizen.

This is a huge step for me.  Trust me.  If you’ve ever been a senior citizen in front of me in line–or worse, in front of me on the road–you’d know what I’m talking about.  And I’m not alone; I think that many people use up all of their time-waiting and patience-having abilities at their jobs.  My wonderful, kind, gentle husband once told an actual old woman to ‘go f*ck herself’ when she cut him off in the bread aisle (to be fair, she also yelled at him first–but still.  Not cool dear.)

For those of you who have taken a career break, did you notice yourself becoming more patient?  Did you find that you were in less of a hurry all the time?  And, most importantly, were you able to hold on to that mindset when you eventually returned to work?

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