While standing in a used bookstore waiting to trade in R is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton and The Litigators by John Grisham, an older man in front of me asks for an Og Mandino title. The store has none and the clerk has never heard of Mr. Mandino. So, the gentleman begins a long narrative about the virtues of Og Mandino's philosophy. Another clerk sees me and rushes over to help. She is apologetic. I brush her off and say, "That is ok. I can wait."
I wait. I wait.
I move over to the fiction shelves and pretend to browse. I drop off my paperbacks and move around the store, listening to the man talk about losing his well worn and much underlined Og Mandino book. He wants to find another copy because he suddenly feels the need to read this former favorite and well loved author. I can understand. I have lost track of good books too. The Tao by Lao Tzu and the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook used to sit on my bookshelf like they would be there forever. Not so. It can be disappointing to realize things change, things get lost and bookstores will not always carry the books you want to read. Or that bookstores (like Borders) will not always be there at all.
So, I pick out some other titles (mysteries by Colin Dexter, John Le Carre and Linwood Barclay) and now I have to pee. I am ready to check out and leave.
The older man has left and come back to speak to the clerk some more. He is talking about the importance of underlining passages in order to remember. He explains his ideas about not just reading but absorbing what you read (like the difference between seeing an apple and eating an apple, he says.) Then the conversation moves to the idea that the clerk should try the Catholic religion. I rest my head on a bookshelf and close my eyes.
If this were Kroger or JC Penney or Walgreens, I would have sighed heavily and rolled my eyes by now. Maybe even backed up the cart and moved to another aisle.
But I will wait indefinitely while a bookstore customer or library patron tells the story of his life before I show any impatience. I have worked and been a customer in bookstores and at libraries for years. I know how the written word seems to inspire loooong-winded one-sided conversations in folks.
As my head rests on the bookshelf waiting for this gentleman to finish his conversation, I say a little prayer "God, grant me the patience while I wait in line behind a windbag and God, grant patience on the person behind me in line whenever I stop the wheels of commerce to chatter on about whatever I find important."
"I seek constantly to improve my manners and graces, for they are the sugar to which all are attracted." Og Mandino
“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures." Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu
"With practice, you can turn out a perfect omelet every time. Timing is important.." Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook 1989