Humans of Quora on work, achievements, success, age, and sense of urgency. Part 2 | 729
A lost young adult from Kathmandu. (In praise of doing)

A man moving at the pace of a sloth at Shell gas station. (In praise of not looking)

[ 3 min read ]

Not long ago I went to a gas station near the place where I live. When I drove up to the pump (one of six pumps which the station is equipped with) there was only one car in front of me. I noticed that the guy from that car was already at the booth which was where drivers ought to pay for the fuel, and I thought that it should be quick — the guy will go back to his car, start the engine and leave and I’ll refuel my car, pay and leave.

Turned out I was mistaken.

The guy indeed paid for the fuel, then turned around and headed toward his car, but soon after he had started walking, after maybe two or three steps, he paused and checked something (in his wallet or on his phone — I don’t remember this detail). Then he started walking again. Between him and his car it must have been a dozen steps. No more. But this guy walked as if he had all the time in the world to get back to his car.

Then I realized that it’s one of those human beings who like to celebrate their each move and enjoy when others have to watch them do that. They like being watched as they’re moving along in a dignified manner. People with power or certain position in the society often have this thing (I wanted to call it ‘sickness’, but then changed my mind). Or he was both meditating and walking at the same time? Or he was simply a sloth in a human’s costume? Or, also possible, he was sick, downhearted, or depressed (maybe he’s just learned that his wife or child died or something)? I mean, who knows? Such things happen and thus such unfortunate scenario was equally possible. I knew nothing about that man.

Then this seemingly distinguished gentleman, after he finally got back to his car, after what seemed like eternity to me, opened the car and entered it.

OK, I thought, now this guy will pull away and I’ll accomplish what he’s just accomplished in one fifth of the time it took him, or even better.

But this guy played a trick on me again. Apparently he had something important to do before he could pull away. More time passed. I guess it must have been close to 40 seconds before he finally started the engine and another 10 seconds before he finally pulled away, and it still looked like I was watching this scene in slow motion.

I noticed an interesting thing about myself as I was watching this. I was seriously pissed when I was looking at this guy, and whenever I turned my head to the side or tilted it down in order to avoid looking at this, and him (as if his sloth-like moves weren’t enough, the guy would look around as if he wanted his and your eyes to meet — as if he wanted to tell you “Am I not the coolest guy on Earth?“ or “I move slow because I’m a free man in a free country, and I will move slow, whether you like it or not” or “I don’t care if you’re in a hurry, you assholes. You know who I am?”, or something to that effect), I was significantly less pissed. I would even say that whenever I had my head turned to the side or tilted down and started to think about other things (the book I want to read, the things I want to do later that day — anything), and told myself that, obviously, I have way more interesting things to think about or look at, my irritation almost vanished.

Maybe because I was also glad that I found this hack and that it worked so well. That even if this guy was an asshole and wanted to show me how much he doesn’t care if there is someone else waiting in the line (because he’s the boss, or has certain status, or something like that) it didn’t work with me. And those two or three extra minutes really weren’t worth it. I didn’t let that ruin the rest of my day. Besides, I can always choose to do something in this extra time (check e-mail, write someone back, read, check something on the Internet — anything; even if I’ll not be able to finish the task, I’ll get something done, some part of it).