The voice over the phone tells you that “an operator will be with you momentarily”.  Back to the phone on another occasion when you’re informed that “the waiting time is approximately five minutes.”  Sitting uneasily in the physician’s office the response to your inquiry is that “the doctor is running behind, but will see you shortly.”  Standing in a crowded restaurant you’re assured that “a table will be opening up real soon.”  Waiting impatiently at home for a service person to arrive you call in and hear that “he’s on the way and should be there in a matter of minutes.”  Having ordered your meal some time ago your question to the waiter prompts him to respond that “your food will be out momentarily”.  Standing alongside your disabled car after much time has passed you call back and hear that “you’ve not been forgotten” and that “the truck will be out to you very soon.”  Closer to home, as you prepare for a night out, your wife reassuringly tells you that “I’ll be ready in just a few more minutes.”

Given my experiences with situations such as these, it’s fair to conclude that everyone who tells you your wait is about over – LIES!

Most all who convey such news have had considerable experience with this sort of thing.  They know how impatient people can be, how the potential for rage lies just below the surface and that matters can easily get out of hand to the great distress of all involved.  They understand that they cannot ignore these inquiries or respond with information that does not offer hope.  They recognize how important it is to be reassuring, even sympathize with those experiencing delay – even as they themselves remain uncertain how much time actually will elapse before the “problem” is resolved.  Every encouraging word buys additional time:  the clock gets reset, begun anew with each successive inquiry.

And on the other side, repeated reassurances are welcome, even if unconvincing.  These folks have been there before, consider the verbal sparring as part of the process.  Each side accepts their role, both not sure  how it will likely end.

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