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  • I am always behind the shopper at the grocery store who has stitched her coupons in the lining of her coat and wants to talk about a 'strong' chicken she bought two weeks ago. The register tape also runs out just before her sub-total. In the public restroom, I always stand behind the teen-ager who is changing into her band uniform for a parade and doesn't emerge until she has combed the tassels on her boots, shaved her legs, and recovered her contact lens from the commode.

  • ... there is no noise louder than a silent phone.

  • Waiting is one of the great arts.

  • Waiting is a large part of living. Great, passive, negative chunks of our time are consumed by waiting, from birth to death. Waiting is a special kind of activity — if activity is the right word for it — because we are held in enforced suspension between people and places, removed from the normal rhythms of our days and lives.

  • Real serious waiting is done in waiting rooms, and what they all have in common is their purpose, or purposelessness, if you will; they are places for doing nothing and they have no life of their own. ... their one constant is what might be called a decorative rigor mortis ...

  • Some people wait constructively; they read or knit. I have watched some truly appalling pieces of needlework take form. Others — I am one of them — abandon all thought and purpose to an uneasy vegetative states.

  • We usually learn to wait only when we have no longer anything to wait for.

  • I don't think there's anything more tiring ... than expecting people who don't turn up ...

  • Waiting is far more difficult than doing.

  • Everyone has their time and kind of waiting.

  • What's the use of watching? A watched pot never boils ...

  • Women have always been seen as waiting: waited to be asked, waiting for our menses, in fear lest they do or do not come, waiting for men to come home from wars, or from work, waiting for children to grow up, or for the birth of a new child, or for menopause.

  • Waiting, done at really high speeds, will frequently look like something else.

  • To wait an Hour — is long — / If Love be just beyond — / To wait Eternity — is short-- / If Love reward the end --.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • c. 1863, in Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson ()
  • What is your need to eat the seed, / When growth might be so sweet?

  • The most trying moments in human experience were those in which there was nothing to be done except to wait.

  • The other line moves faster. This applies to all lines — bank, supermarket, tollbooth, customs, and so on. And don't try to change lines. The other one — the one you were in originally — will then move faster.

  • In times of uncertainty, wait. Always, if you have any doubt, wait. Do not force yourself to any action. If you have a restraint in your spirit, wait until all is clear, and do not go against it.

  • ... some people do wait their whole lives for something, and it's only when that thing arrives that they find out that they've been waiting rather than living.

  • It is very strange ... that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.

  • But the fact is, things always seem to come slowly when you are longing for them.

    • Teresa of Avila,
    • 1577, in E. Allison Peers, ed., The Letters of Saint Teresa of Jesus, vol. 1 ()
  • ... when one has learned to wait patiently, one has learned to live.

  • No man can give me any word but Wait ...

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell," A Street in Bronzeville ()
  • The day you spend hoping, the day you spend waiting, the day you spend in despair, is a day in your life as much as the tomorrow you hope for, but which may never come, so betting today on tomorrow is always a bad bet.

  • He had been born under a dark star that always landed him behind people like that — women ahead of him in public phone booths called up relatives they hadn't seen in twenty years, men at ticket windows before him wanted a breakdown of different-class fares between Chicago and Santa Fe.

  • ... what is delayed is not lost ...

    • Juliette Drouet,
    • 1874, in Louis Gimbaud, ed., The Love Letters of Juliette Drouet to Victor Hugo ()
  • Waiting has teeth in it.

    • Margaret Hasse,
    • "My Mother's Lullaby," Stars Above, Stars Below ()
  • When he was waiting, he found he could never commit himself deeply to anything else. The fact of his waiting wouldn't let him go.

  • Through the windy night something / is coming up the path / towards the house. / I have always hated to wait for things. / I think I will go / to meet whatever it is.

  • How tedious is time, when his wings are loaded with expectation!

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  • The rehearsal had not been over for more than ten minutes and he could not have been standing there for more than six, but the look of exhaustion and reproach in his eyes suggested I had kept him waiting for days in some remote and shelterless mountain pass.

  • A line is an involuntary combination of people who are simultaneously irritated with one another and focused on a single, common circle of interests and goals. This leads to a mixture of rivalry, hostility, and collective sentiment, a constant readiness to close ranks against a common enemy — anyone who breaks the rules.

    • Lidia Ginzburg,
    • "The Siege of Leningrad," in Soviet Women Writing ()
  • Waiting time is not wasted time. Something is being worked out — in us, in someone else, in the Universe.

  • When she was about sixty-eight years old, Brave Orchid took a day off to wait at San Francisco International Airport for the plane that was bringing her sister to the United States. She had not seen Moon Orchid for thirty years. She had begun this waiting at home, getting up a half-hour before Moon Orchid's plane took off in Hong Kong. Brave Orchid would add her will power to the forces that keep an airplane up.

  • ... I've come to believe that every one who reaches the best that life holds for him reaches it through some Desert of Waiting.

  • It's just winter wheat to the people who raise it, only to me it means more than that. It means all the winter and all the cold and the tight feeling of the house in winter, but the rich secret feeling I have, too, of treasure in the ground, growing there for us, waiting for the cold to be over to push up strong and green.

  • Remember that nothing is so damaging to self-esteem as waiting for a telephone or door-bell that doesn't ring.

  • Biding one's time is a very different thing from patience.

  • [On the immigrant-processing center at Ellis Island:] Waiting [is] the great vocation of the dispossessed.

  • I waited / For the phone to ring / And when at last / It didn't, / I knew it was you.

    • Eleanor Bron,
    • "No Answer," The Pillow Book of Eleanor Bron ()
  • Anyone who believes the competitive spirit in America is dead has never been in a supermarket when the cashier opens another checkout line.

  • I would ... go up to the mailbox and sit in the grass, waiting. ... Till it came to me one day there were women doing this with their lives, all over. There were women just waiting and waiting by mailboxes for one letter or another. I imagined me making this journey day after day and year after year, and my hair starting to go gray, and I thought, I was never made to go on like that. ... If there were woman all through life waiting, and women busy and not waiting, I knew which I had to be.

  • It's a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up the space. By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness.