When Frustration, Anger and Impatience Rears it’s Ugly Head

The woman behind me at the ATM yelled at me today. I’m not kidding.

I used the drive-through ATM to deposit six checks and some cash. As I drove up, no one was in front of me and no one was behind—a pretty slow day at the bank. So when I realized that this particular ATM machine only allowed me to deposit one check at a time, it seemed like a bit of a hassle, but not a major deal (although I must admit, I did turn off my engine). After depositing my third check I caught a glimpse of an SUV pulling up behind me, but didn’t pay too much attention.

Until I heard her scream.

“Hurry UP!  H  U R R Y!  U  P!!!!!!!!!

Her outburst startled me so badly I physically jumped. “I’m sorry.  I’m just making my deposit”.

“Well HURRY!!!!!!”

“I’m sorry, this ATM only takes one check at a time and I didn’t know”. I was practically begging for her forgiveness.  I was mortified.

My hands started tapping the ATM screen as fast as my finger would allow and I could feel my heart beat wildly in my chest. I looked down. One more check and then the cash.  I felt like a small animal caught in a cage.  The lady behind me scared me, quite frankly.  Not that I thought that she would hurt me physically (she looked like a normal, run-of-the-mill mom) but the idea that she might scream at me again made me frantic to avoid a repeat performance.

Finally I finished.  Nervous, I glanced in my rearview mirror and drove away, noticing a security guard who certainly hadn’t been present went I first drove up. Oh my gosh…was I about to become of those road rage victims I see on the news, only in ATM form?

Now I wasn’t nervous. I was bugged.

Part of me wanted to go back and tell her that when you’re mean it ruins everyone else’s perfectly good day. Part of me wanted to remind her that the earth doesn’t revolve around her schedule, so learn to wait your turn, little Miss Selfish. Part of me wanted to warn her not to take her anger out on others, especially not her kids (if they even still talk to her).

But instead I pulled into an empty parking space and cried.

I sat in my car thinking about how anger breeds anger and how kindness breeds kindness.  I thought about how easy it is to take out our frustrations on innocent people.  I thought about how harsh words hurt. I thought about how shaken up I felt…kind of in a funk that wouldn’t leave.

I grabbed my Bible and read. I cried some more, but this time from the overwhelming sense of how God loves me and her and all the rest of broken humanity.

An hour later I was in line at Starbucks a few minutes before my youngest needed to be picked up from school.  The couple in front of me was taking forever deciding what to order. On the outside I appeared perfectly calm, cool and collected.  But on the inside I was rolling my eyes while sending out brain waves I wished they could intercept.  Pick a coffee, any coffee, for crying out loud.

Then I remembered the lady behind me at the bank.

Every one of us struggles with impatience.  Too often our impatience can lead to outbursts of anger; maybe not always with strangers taking too long at the bank, but with our kids, husbands or other unfortunate souls in our path.

Long lines, lost shoes, overbooked schedules, a child that won’t hurry up no matter how hard you push, people who won’t cooperate our way, in our timing.  These things are a fact of life.  How we deal with these inconveniences, however, affects us and those around us. It may be the difference between a good day or a bad one; a healthy relationship or a wounded one; a peaceful soul or a perturbed one.

Lord, help us all with our impatience. And help me, most of all.

Ephesians 4:1-3

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

“The times we find ourselves having to wait on others may be the perfect opportunities to train ourselves to wait on the Lord.”

~ Joni Eareckson Tada


  1. Sheri Feinberg

    This could not be more perfect for today! Donna, you continue to amaze me and am grateful to have you in my life! Thanks for your guidance and inspiration. We all love you!

  2. Very well said Donna! Thank you for sharing your experience with transparency. So relatable! Blessings!

  3. Gayle Haddock

    Ugh! The ATM confrontation makes me just hurt for you, sister! I am so non-confrontational (which has plenty of issues of its own) that even hearing about an outburst like that just makes me squirm for you! I am so sorry you experienced that, but thankful for the lesson you took away from it and more importantly, took the time to share with all of us. I may not be confrontational, but I certainly struggle with impatience, and don’t have to think back very far to my last display of it, either. Got stuck behind a school bus just this morning as I was running late to drop my son off at school. Need I say more? 🙂
    On a different note, I signed up for She Speaks yesterday, and hope to see you again in July! Sending hugs to a wonderful woman, author, speaker, and speaker eval group leader!!

Add A Comment