Did you ever notice how many obligatory tasks, which are seemingly simple, wind up taking an exponentially (and annoyingly) longer time to complete than you think they should? Perhaps this is why the Mad About You episode entitled Sofa’s Choice with the theme, “EVERYTHING in the world takes 4 hours,” resonates with me. So much so, that I often remind myself of what I have dubbed “the four hour rule” in an effort to maintain my sanity and sense of humor.

How about that minor issue that requires calling customer service to resolve? After listening to the automated menu, you select the customer service extension and wind up on hold for nearly thirty minutes. To boot, once the rep finally picks-up you get disconnected. Then, when you call back, you have to get back in the queue and wait again. Finally, you get through to an actual human being, and you are delighted. That is, until you must go through the identification verification process, having to provide nearly all of your personal information, apart from your body mass index. By the time you have verified your information, you are lucky if you remember why you called in the first place.

Then there’s the several hour routine visit to the doctor. How many times have you showed up a few minutes early for a doctor appointment only to wait an hour plus in the waiting room? Then, once you are finally situated in an exam room you have to wait another hour or so. No doubt, I will have gone through all of the office’s reading material of interest, caught up on my email and browsed Facebook. But, then, I think to myself if only I had worked on my screenplay (that I initially penned some eighteen years ago) I would have won an Oscar by now.

The self-checkout station is another irritating ordeal. You know, when you have a shopping cart with a handful of items and given the snake-like cashier led checkout lines, you decide to give self-checkout a try? What should theoretically take under five minutes grows into many more as the machine keeps detecting that you haven’t bagged your item, or it doesn’t scan the barcode. Or, when too many items have amassed on the conveyer belt and the machine stops until you remove said items. In the end, a cashier usually needs to intervene and by that time not only are you miffed, but also beyond behind schedule.

As I have many more ‘four hour’ anecdotes, I am certain that this is something I have in common with most people. Perhaps the universality of such instances led to the “EVERYTHING in the world takes 4 hours,” themed Mad About You episode. No doubt, these experiences often test my patience, to put it mildly. But, when I catch myself gritting my teeth in a spiral of futile frustration, I simple recall the ‘four hour rule’ and remember to add it to my list of comedic war stories.

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