Copyright 2005 Ben S. Pollock
Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2005. Waiting. Some Enron executive pleaded guilty today to being a crook. Enron? Wasn’t that way back? (Wait here, I’ll check.) The corporation filed for bankruptcy in 2001.
He’s a criminal who hurt thousands of employees, yet imagine waiting four years to learn how long your prison term was going to be. He was out on bond for four years, and today discovered he’ll be in the pokey for the next five. He’s got it coming.
Still, how did he wake each day? You don’t have to feel sorry for the guy just to wear his bathrobe (moccasins optional) as he brushes his teeth every morning for four years. Imagine the weight of the Wait.
I have a Wait for something big. There’s no clue if I’ll get it. (Not a holiday gift nor a court verdict.) Worse, the decision has been delayed by more than a month. When it finally comes, that call will change substantial parts of my life. A Wait thus defined always means high stakes.
Every day since July or September (when the Wait began is not clear), I wonder, will I hear today? If Yes, what will I do next? If No, what to do instead? Just like the rest of the future, the temptation during a Wait to consider is in direct proportion to its unpredictability. Daydreams and daymares are irresistible, both of which waste time and heighten anxiety. It is a classic Wait: I can’t hurry it or add to the probability of success. All that’s left is to stew.
An early Wait: Letters from colleges as a high school senior: Yes, No and Financial Aid (a No there kills the Yes). Most of my 20s was spent in one Wait or another: Better job, a girlfriend who might be The One. Waits were easier to take in my 30s. I don’t know why.
Throughout 2001 newspapers nationwide were cutting back at record levels: Would I be downsized? In September, the answer came. The Yes came from my editor. The human resource director, there as witness, held my hand as I teared up — for all that worry, I was surprised. (I was put, and apparently remain, on that paper’s “eligible for rehire” list so the firing indeed stemmed from finances, not me.)
In 2005, more newspapers were doing larger layoffs, still I have yet to worry: I trust this publisher. Of course, there’s two days left in the year.
Other people always cause the Wait. Sure, you may have asked this person or that for something so you bring it on initially, but the Wait always is at the hand of an Other. The weather perhaps could bring on a wait, but an agonizing one? Hardly. The economy? I didn’t get a pink slip from Wall Street.
Various Waits have darkened so many days I otherwise would have enjoyed. Waits for Something Big apparently — how come no one told me? — are a part of what I call a life well-lived, where one strives for more even after you’re not that young anymore. Too bad any Wait is miserable. Too bad it must contain by definition the seed of failure. It means, in a word, Risk. –30–