We’ll make this quick. We know you’re busy.
An Associated Press poll has found an impatient nation. To get to the point without further ado, it’s a nation that gets antsy after five minutes on hold on the phone and 15 minutes max in a line. So say people in the survey.
The Department of Motor Vehicles, the U.S. version of the old Soviet bread line, is among the top spots where Americans hate to wait. But grocery stores are the worst.
Almost one in four in the AP-Ipsos poll picked the grocery checkout as the line where their patience is most likely to melt like the ice cream turning to goo in their cart.
And it seems people don’t mellow with age. The survey found older people to be more impatient than younger people.
Nor does getting away from the urban pressure cooker make much difference. People in the country and the suburbs can bear a few more minutes in a line before losing it than city inhabitants can, but that’s it.
In short, Americans want it all NOW. Or awfully close to now.
“If you ask the typical person, do you feel more time-poor or money-poor, the answer almost always is time-poor,” says Paco Underhill, an authority on what draws and drives away shoppers.
“We walk in the door with the clock ticking with various degrees of loudness in our heads. And if I get to the checkout and if I have the perception it’s not working efficiently, often that clock gets even louder.”
Americans are demanding, too. Half in the AP-Ipsos poll said they refuse to return to businesses that made them wait too long. Nearly one in five owned up to speaking rudely to someone in the last few months when they weren’t served efficiently.
Altogether, 1,003 adults took time out from their evening to answer questions for the poll March 28-30. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.