I don’t mind waiting for things. ‘Good things come to those who wait’ may be best known as a Guinness advertising slogan, but it is a mantra with which I am in some agreement. Of course, the queue is an English stereotype; it is nothing more than the visual representation of waiting.
I spend a lot of time waiting. Some of it is impatient waiting. Often, this is waiting when circumstances are out of my control: like waiting for the London Northwestern train, which is running ten minutes late, because the guard is delayed on an inbound service. Some of it is expectant waiting. This often takes the form of anticipating a happy future event, like an approaching holiday, or the end of the working week.
There is another kind of waiting. This is Waiting for Godot waiting; this is pointless, futile waiting; this is hopeless hopeful waiting; waiting in the expectation of an event, which is never ever going to happen. Like waiting for ‘Ripen at Home’ fruit to ripen.
‘Ripen at Home’ fruit belong to the modern trend of doing-it-yourself. They are the market gardener’s equivalent of the Post Office self-service machine. They represent a shift of responsibility within the service sector from the supplier to the end-user. No longer is the farmer prepared to supply ready-to-eat produce, but the consumer is now expected to do their bit of the cultivation process at home.
I wouldn’t mind this––I would mind this; I am just pretending to be conciliatory––if it worked. But it does not. ‘Ripen at Home’ fruit never ripens. They go from a state of impenetrable hardness––a state, which can often last several expectant weeks––to a state of soggy rottenness, within the blinking of an eye. If there is a window of ripeness, when the fruit can actually be eaten, its duration can be no longer than the life expectancy of a Mayfly and, I for one, have never seen it.
What do I do now? I still buy my ‘Ripen at Home’ fruit. After all, we are always being told how important it is to have our Five-a-day. But, as soon as I get back from the supermarket, I throw the entire punnet straight into the rubbish bin.
Wasteful? Perhaps. But I can’t tell you how much valuable time it has saved me from pointless waiting.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree finds himself with time on his hands.