In a Hurry to Wait

Posted By on Apr 20, 2014 | 9 comments

I was on a plane the other day and had the privilege of sitting next to a couple of interesting people. The man, sitting by the window, was in his mid-fifties, and the young woman was in her mid-twenties. I believe in total transparency, so I may as well give away my age.

I’m 29.

For the 9th time.

Anyway, when we first boarded the plane, the two strangers next to me instantly struck up a conversation. I always eaves drop. I can’t help myself. It’s just one of those things I do. It isn’t for any sinister reasons, so I hope that no one reading this thinks I’m some sort of weirdo.

Rather, I like to listen in to people’s conversations in hopes that I can join the discussion. I love meeting new people and interacting with them. Maybe it’s the counselor in me. Or maybe I’ve always just been a person who loves to talk and listen.

The two strangers were talking about an interesting phenomenon that happens every single time a plane lands. I was sitting quietly, not minding my own business, when they mentioned how odd it is that as soon as the plane touches down and taxis off the runway, people begin unfastening their seat belts. It’s as if they are caged animals, desperate for freedom and that little belt is the only thing standing in their way.

I laughed quietly to myself as they were discussing this because I’d always noticed the same thing, but never really mentioned it to anyone else.

I bluntly told both of the strangers next to me that I’d noticed the same peculiar thing, and our conversation quickly went to another odd behavior we’d noticed after a plane lands.

We noticed that when a plane pulls up to the airport, as soon as it comes to a stop and the seat belt like goes off, everyone on the aisle stands up as quickly as possible and starts racing to grab their bags from under the seats or from the overhead bins.

As soon as they’ve retrieved their things, the people stand there impatiently waiting for the doors to open and everyone in front of them to get off. Again, it’s like the caged animal thing.

The woman in our conversation mentioned that one time, she’d been on the aisle and simply sat there, waiting patiently. As she did so, a woman in the middle seat next to her climbed over her, desperate to claim her space in line. After she did, my new friend said that the woman ended up standing their waiting for ten minutes.


What is it inside of us that tells us we have to hurry up to claim our spot in the line to wait?

Look, even if you are running tight on your schedule for your connecting flight, I seriously doubt that you are going to make up any time by climbing over the person to your left. Not to mention the fact that you look ridiculous doing it.

I think it is the possessive nature of humans combined with some instinctive competitiveness. It makes us think that we have to be first to get to something or somewhere. And if someone is in our way, we have to get by them to claim our rightful place.

This sort of thing happens on the roads too. People get angry on the roads when someone needs to merge over into their lane. The other driver knew that they should have gotten over several minutes ago, but they cheated, and pushed their way into your spot.

Did that person make you any later to your destination?

Not likely.

It is that entitled, possessive creature inside of us that tells us, “No, that is mine and you can’t be there.” It’s that kind of thought process that can often lead to road rage, jealousy, assault, murder, and even war. Even if none of that horrible stuff happens, it causes an immense amount of stress on your mind and body. If you don’t know what stress does, just know it is basically the source of all bad things that goes on with the human body.

What would happen if everyone on the plane simply stayed in their seats when it came to a complete stop? The aisle would be clear. You could continue talking with the people next to you that you just met a few hours ago without any rush. Could you imagine what the plane or the roads would look like if everyone had a sense of patience, and good will?

Do you have problems with some things like this? I know I do on occasion. I get in such a hurry that I feel like if I’m slowed down at all that the universe is going to evaporate or something.

It won’t. Everything is going to be okay. We need to put that in our minds. We need to tell ourselves that we are going to get there eventually, and when we do, it’s all going to work out.

Are there some reasons you should be in a hurry in life? Absolutely. I’m thinking things like: water just broke, really need to go to the bathroom, or you accidentally sent an email to the entire building instead of just one person. (Always check to make sure you didn’t “reply to all.”)  😉

Other than a few times in life, try being a little more patient. When the plane lands and docks with the airport, tell yourself that you’ll get to the terminal in good time. There’s no rush. Even if there is, your hurry isn’t to get in line and wait. Your hurry should be to relax and enjoy each second you have. Let everyone else stress out about why the door hasn’t opened or why no one is moving.

You know better. And you are happier for it.

What are some things you’ve done or noticed other people doing that, after a second observation, seem to add pointless stress?

Let me know in the comments, and share with others what your solution is.


  1. Hah, that’s something I’ve noticed myself. I’ve seen the same thing with folks leaving the theatre or ballgame, wherever. They have to light a cigarette in the middle of all those people so it goes right into your face. I think it has something to do with going for a period of time where they have been told they can’t do something so as soon as they can, they wasn’t to do that particular behavior. I’m always reminded of one of my favorite quotes.

    “Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
    ― Henry David Thoreau

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  2. Every time I fly I’ve noticed that. I have also been “climbed over”. =D
    I love to sit and observe, wink and smile at the kids (because they are great observers and questioners too) as they are being jostled and caught up in the panic by their guardians, and usually have a look in their eyes of “why…….” and it feels like we share a secret joke. It’s all free human entertainment rolled into the ticket. =)

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  3. Have always noticed that waiting quietly for most everyone to rush off almost feels like I am in my own bubble of peace and quiet, even if I am the last person to check out the time difference is seconds. The rewards are enormous! Lots of room to walk, you can observe life around you, interact with other patient people, and get to your destination relaxed and calm. Hurry up and Wait is old school!

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  4. Working in theatre I notice this possessiveness in line ups all the time, patrons arriving to be first in line and getting very upset if anyone butts in line. Then pushing their way through the doors. The mentality of there possibly not being a seat for them stresses them out. First of all we would never sell more tickets than seats and every seat in our small theatre is a good one. 🙂

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  5. This blog made me smile. You have a wonderful way of expressing what we all think and see. I too notice things such as the sound of seat belts clanging as soon as the plane touches down… The dinging of messages as cell phones are turned on, and the stranger like demeanor that takes over in an instant. One could have been speaking to a person the entire flight, but once touchdown and the plane taxis to its destination gate, the voices and friendliness are turned off as the cell phones come on. We humans, are interesting characters aren’t we? 🙂

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  6. I also sit and laugh at people trying to exit a plane and I also get upset when people try to fly around me so they don’t have to sit in the traffic line as long as I have been. I have been known to yell at people who use the emergency lane to pass everyone to get off an exit and I try to block them. It has upset me in the past that everyone should have to wait in line just like me because it’s just not fair!! But after my sons brain injury I have slowed down. I let people in. I don’t get upset like I did. Life is too precious to stress over little stuff. (Course on occasion, I will pretend that I don’t see your blinker!) I guess I see it as why do you get to go around everyone, what makes you so special that you can’t be patient and wait like everyone else.

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    • Life really is too precious to stress over little stuff. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

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  7. Hoo-boy! You hit a chord with this one about hurry and stress. I’ve noticed these behaviors in others…and I still struggle with some of them in myself. I say “still” because I recently retired and STILL find myself feeling guilty if I’m not busily being “productive!” Got a pill I can take for the problem?

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