Practice Patience Please!

Practice Patience, please!

It’s my hope that You will practice patience whenever anyone is asking you for Directions.

Asking for directions is a two-edged sword.

Shouldn’t be, but often it is.  

A Little Story

Here’s a little story to illustrate my point. 

You see, I’m an American living in London, England.

There’s a lot of great things about this city.

I really appreciate the area … All the museums, galleries, history, “hidden” clubs, parks, palaces … just tons of things to do and see.

However, sometimes getting good, concise, easy-to-understand directions can be a real pain in the arse!

My belief is that it comes from a lot of the locals being so busy with life, it causes them to not be very patient at times.

A few days ago, I was boarding the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) at Canary

Part of the DLR Station at Canary Wharf in London, England.  Patience is needed by both passengers and train drivers to navigate these platforms and trains.
Part of the DLR Station at Canary Wharf in London, England. Patience is needed by both passengers and train drivers to navigate these platforms and trains.

Wharf DLR Station, going towards Stratford.

As this journey was about to begin, I heard an elderly lady, apparently of Indian descent, asking a younger man a question.

She obviously was not a native, and the English language was not easy for her, but she was trying very hard to use the right words in asking her question.

She did manage to ask her question in a fairly clear and concise fashion.

His answer, then her reaction, caused me to remember my first few days here.

In those first few days, I discovered, when asking native Londoners directions, it can be a real adventure to get a straight & simple answer.

Back to the lady and her question.

The Scene

The train we were on begins at Canary Wharf and finishes at Stratford, after having made several stops inbetween.

Only once she was on and seated did it occur to her she might not be on the right train (there are several trains & tracks to choose from).

So she turned to the guy beside her, who was looking at his phone very intensely.  Probably reading an important email or going over his notes for a meeting.  

The Question

She then asked “Sir, can you tell me if this train goes to Langdon Park?”

He could have practiced a bit of patience, and explained which stop it was, and yes, the train did indeed go there.

But she had interupted him and his reading, so he seemed to be a bit annoyed.

His answer?

“Yes, this train goes to Stratford.”

“Yes, this train goes to Stratford.” were the words out of his mouth.

He went straight back to reading his email or notes (or playing a game, as many do) on his phone.

Now I could tell by the look on her face that she was really confused at this point.

To her, not only did he not answer her question, but he’s interjected another place, that she has no idea about it or where it was. 

Probably never even heard of it before now.

Let’s Try Again

So she bucked up enough courage to ask the question in a little different way, saying “I’m trying to go to Langdon Park to visit my daughter.  Can I get there on this train?”

He should have been able to tell that she didn’t understand his answer, but chose to answer the exact same way again, with no explanation at all.

“Yes, the train goes to Stratford.”

As far as he was concerned his answer was correct, which is was. It was just incomplete. 

He answered a question with words that she wasn’t expecting, didn’t understand, and the answer didn’t help her one bit.

Patience & Understanding … Please

Which is where the lack of patience kicks in.

At this point, I got up, walked over to the lady and explained to her that Langdon Park was just the 4th or 5th stop on the way to Stratford, so yes, the train does go to Langdon Park.

She looked relieved, smiled a big smile and thanked me. 

Hear the Question while Practicing Patience

He looked a bit perplexed that it actually had to be described in such a way for her to understand.

He acted like I thought he didn’t know what he was talking about. 

No doubt in my mind that he knew.   He just didn’t fully listen to the question.

To a lot of the natives & locals, getting around is done by sight & markers, not maps.

So they expect others to know the same things they know about getting around.

Now this is not usually an issue in the tourist areas, as folks expect to have to explain things.

In the more “local” and non-touristy areas, one is just automatically expected to know things such as “since this train goes to Stratford, it must go by Langdon Park to get there.”

That’s the way they learned, so that’s what they expect.

Very little patience for those who don’t know.

My request to the “locals”, worldwide, is to practice patience, and when asked for directions (or any other question), try looking at it from the asker’s point of view.

You may just see the world in a whole new way.

Thanks for reading my little story and I hope you have a wonderful day.

Hope to see you again soon,

Roger