March25 , 2023

    Learning Patience in the Storm

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    By: Sandra Jean Charite, MS

    Hurricane Irma was expected to hit landfall in South Florida between the early hours on Sunday, September 10.

    All day Friday and into late Saturday night, thousands of South Floridians prepared for the storm. They lined up in stores, filled up their gas tanks, and ensured that they had obtained all the necessary supplies.

    People tuned in to their local weather stations via television, radio, or online to get their latest updates of the storm. However, Irma would bring more than just wind and rain but she brought patience.

    Ok, rewind. Days before the storm hit South Florida, many flocked to the gas stations in which they endured long wait times. The wait was ridiculous. Having endured Hurricane Andrew, Katrina, and Wilma, I could not find myself waiting in those lines again and possibly running out of gas while waiting. So that Friday morning before the storm, I decided that on my way to work I would fill up my gas tank. I left my house early hoping to beat the traffic to the pumps but the gas station’s line was long and they ran out of gas just as I was the third vehicle in line.

    Knowing that I didn’t want to be late for work, I jumped on the Florida Turnpike thinking that my commute would be quick. The Turnpike was already congested due to the amount of people who were fleeing Key West and the down south area of Miami. Although the tolls were suspended because Irma was approaching, I was annoyed by the traffic and my patience was slowly diminishing. Surprisingly, traffic cleared in less than 10 minutes and I was flying on the Turnpike. I reached my destination, Margate (Pompano Beach area), within 15 minutes and I was left with 45 minutes to spare.

    Since I was early, I drove around to find gas. All the local gas station’s lines were long. I went two miles from my job and found a gas station, located in a busy intersection, which had an empty pump. As I pulled up to the pump, a woman in a Black Nissan cut me off and jump to the only available pump. She got out of her car to go inside to pay for the gas and didn’t bother to apologize. I calmed my words and silenced my thoughts while I allowed my Spotify playlist to continue to play in the background. If we allow it, the mind can entertain foolish thoughts.

    Watching the woman pump her gas was the longest 15 minutes of my life. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t less than 15 minutes but oh my. By the time it was my turn to pump gas, the pump was having some issues. First of all, it would not take my credit card. Then, the gas station attendant said that I had to pay cash because the credit card machine was not working. So, I had to find an ATM machine to withdraw cash and wait in line to pay for the gas then patiently fill my tank with the gas. My patience was decreasing. Something that seemed so easy was turning out to be difficult. Finally, my tank was full and I made my way to work.

    Fast forward to Saturday where the chaos in the streets and gas stations were even more crazy. Patiently awaiting Irma, who took forever, but it felt like she was already here as the rain and wind took