Sunday, September 6, 2015

365 True Things: 161/Быстро!

Sometimes I can be impatient. Sometimes, too, I move too fast.

Today, for example, after we'd done our grocery shopping—buying ingredients for spanakopita—I opened the back door of my car without even considering that contents might have shifted, and blam, I heard a crash and then saw liquid flowing across the driveway. At first I thought it was just a bottle of white wine, but no: there was also a nice bottle of extra virgin olive oil in the plastic bag. Twenty-five dollars' worth of mess.

I immediately returned to the market and replaced the two items, but still: if I'd been going slower—thinking—anticipating—I could have spared myself some time and trouble . . .

No sooner was that taken care of than I set about replacing two low printer cartridges, only to find that one was defective. Once again, I hopped into the car and drove to the store to set things right.

Fortunately, the clerk didn't question my honesty, which she could easily have done. Even I was puzzled as to how the cartridge's inflated plastic cozy could have been torn and the orange-plastic protecting bits broken. The box, I'm pretty sure, was itself intact.

In any case, while rushing around town, I was thinking about that tendency of mine: to rush around. I don't move slow. I am impatient.

Traffic reminds me of that each and every day. Sooooo many slow drivers in the world! I try to use traffic as an opportunity to breathe in tranquillity, breath out irritation, but sometimes it's difficult.

I chalk my impatience up to Prussian efficiency, plus probably too much coffee. It's not a pretty trait.

That said, it ties in with a certain practicality as well. Like, today: I could easily have been discouraged and defeated by my two material mishaps, but instead I just took care of the matter. Twice. With relative calm—which may be surprising for such an impatient soul. But I would also guess that if you were to ask most of my friends, they'd tell you I am pretty calm. Easy-going. (Right, friends?)

While I was driving around, silently urging other motorists to try to drive the speed limit, I was thinking about some of the ways I know to say, "Hurry up!"  

Los, geh doch! 
Allez, dépêche-toi! 
Hayaku (はやく)! 

And then there's the Russian быстро, or bystro—quick!—which one urban legend has it is the origin of the French word bistro. During the Russian occupation of Paris in 1814, so the story goes, the Russian soldiers would yell "быстро!" seeking faster service. Maybe. I like the story, though, and I like imagining a line of bearded Cossacks in their blue woollen greatcoats leaning on a high wooden bar, eager for their beer and savory crepes.

Others say the word comes from a type of aperitif, called a bist(r)ouille—coffee with a splash of spirits—served in some reasonably priced French restaurants.

Me, I'm sticking with быстро.

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