Patience is a virtue, as the old saying goes. There are some people who demonstrate patience to an almost God-like level. Great works of art, multinational business, world-beating athletic achievements: all of these require patience because feats like these can take many years to achieve. And it’s not always easy to know if you’re succeeding at any given moment. Some people, however, are patient for the wrong reasons. I’ll be taking a look at them too. So join me as I take a tour of some of the most patient people the world has to offer.
10. Robert Shoesmith
Back in August 2011, British garbage collector and marketing whizz Robert Shoesmith started waiting for the iPhone 4S to come out – before it had even been announced. This involved camping outside the Apple Store in London’s Covent garden during the highly changeable British summertime for over two months.
Thanks to his tech-inspired patience, Mr Shoesmith managed to achieve a lot of corporate sponsorship from companies like Cadburys, Skype, Mountain Dew, Domino’s Pizza, Innocent, Kleenex, Helly Hansen, Weight Watchers, and Gillette. The phone was available to buy on the 14th October 2011. However, despite all of his Robert’s best efforts, he wasn’t actually the first to get his hands on the phone. He was beaten by Ami Yang from New Zealand.
This just goes to show that patience doesn’t always pay off, especially if you’re waiting for Apple tech. Mr Shoesmith did however witness a smash-and-grab raid on the Apple Store on October 10th, so at least he got some excitement out of the long wait. Shoesmith does, however, have a more successful and more patient predecessor named…
9. Greg Packer
Greg is what’s known as a ‘professional line sitter’. He is universally recognised as the first man on earth to buy the first iPhone, which he achieved after having camped outside the 5th Avenue Apple Store for four days.
Greg was also the first member of the public to shake George Bush Jr’s hand when he was first inaugurated. He is known as one of the most quoted people in American media, so much so that reporters have been advised not to take quotes from him. Other names that have been attributed to the former highway maintenance worker are ‘man on the street’ and the ‘iLoser’. Stay patient, Greg.
8. Tendai Monks
Have you ever thought about doing a marathon? How about one marathon per day for 100 days? How about one marathon per day for 100 days each year for seven years and for the last two years you have to do two marathons per day? If you think that sounds impossible, you need to check out the Tendai monks and their insane Kaihōgyō practice.
Kaihōgyō means ‘circling the mountain’ and it’s a gruelling, seven-year-long journey conducted for 100-200 days a year by Tendai monks who wish to achieve the title of dai-ajari, or living saint. Only 48 marathon monks have completed the challenge since 1885, and the stakes are pretty high: after the first 100 days, if you don’t manage to complete the required 30-60km per day, you’re expected to kill yourself, and all monks participating in the challenge must carry a knife and a rope for this purpose.
There’s also a trial in the fifth year of the practice called doiri where you must chant 100,000 mantras for nine days without food, water or sleep. If this practice isn’t an incredible example of patience, persistence, and training, then I don’t know what is.
7. William Reid Stowe
This man is an American artist and mariner who claims to have completed the longest continuous sea voyage without resupply or stepping on land, which was 1,152 days long. Reid Stowe also broke the record for longest solo sea voyage without resupply on day 964, after his wife, who had joined him for the first 306 days, had to leave the boat to give birth. Personally, I can’t imagine spending one month on a boat, let alone almost 3 years, so Reid Stowe’s resilient patience seems very impressive to me.
Sadly, none of Reid Stowe’s achievements have been officially recognised by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, because they are unable to recognise ‘human condition’ categories because they can be too expansive. Reid Stowe will be remembered by endurance sailors around the world for his accolades, but what would you expect from someone who appears to be more fish than man?
6. David Blaine
Being one of the most patient people when you’re alone is one thing, but having patience when you’re suspended 30ft in the air in a plexiglass box scrutinised by the general public is whole different ball game. Back in 2003, magician and illusionist David Blaine showed incredible patience and determination when he performed this Christ-like feat of endurance, living in a transparent hanging box without food for 44 days.
I mean, it’s not like he was in the desert, but it’s impressive nonetheless. During the stunt, Blaine lost 60lbs and had symptoms of starvation, depleted bone and organ mass, heart palpitations, breathing problems and loss of skin pigmentation. Critics have said that it’s possible Blaine’s 4.5 litre allowance of water per day was laced with glucose and sodium supplements, though no solid food for 44 days is still pretty astonishing. During the stunt, Blaine was harassed by the British public, who pelted him with eggs, paint-filled balloons, and even golf balls. One prankster even flew a hamburger attached to a remote control helicopter up to the box to taunt the starving artist.
Whatever you think of this stunt, Blaine’s patience was pushed to the absolute limit, and in the end, he succeeded.
5. Colin Angus
In July 2004, Colin Angus became the first man ever to complete a self-propelled circumnavigation of the world. He crossed two oceans, three continents, and 13 countries, travelling either by foot, canoe, rowboat or bicycle.
His journey was beset with problems, like when his expedition partner Tim Harvey left him in Siberia, or when he had to be rescued from a high seas storm by a Russian research vessel. Angus travelled around 43,000km, or roughly 26,700 miles, to achieve this feat, which took almost two years to complete.
The journey started by bike in Vancouver and took Colin through Alaska, across the Bering Sea, along the length of Siberia, into Europe from Moscow to Portugal, then across the Atlantic to Costa Rica, after which they cycled the 8,300km back to Vancouver.
A trip like this requires unbelievable patience and determination as well as a high level of physical fitness. That is why I think Colin deserves the title of one of the most patient people in the world.
Between 1508 and 1512, the Florentine artist Michelangelo painted the breath-taking and world-famous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The complex and colourful fresco is celebrated for its realistic figures, vast size, and innovative process. It also required a great deal of patience to complete.
Every day for four years Michelangelo would paint the ceiling atop a wood platform that he built on a bracket attached to the side of the building’s interior. The work was carried out in extremely uncomfortable conditions because he had to work with his head tilted upwards for long periods.
The result of his patience and skill was a work of art that has lasted for more than 500 years and is appreciated by thousands of visitors every single day.
Another particularly patient artist was Auguste Rodin. He spent 37 years creating his monumental sculptural piece The Gates of Hell, which depicts a scene from the Inferno – the first section of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The intimidating work stands at 6 metres high, is 4 metres wide and 1 metre deep, and contains 180 individual figurines.
3. Injured Brits
In the UK in 2018, Sylvia Marsh, a 79-year-old woman fell and broke her hip on the pavestones in her back yard.
Despite frequent calls from her family to the emergency services, an ambulance did not arrive to help her for three and a half hours. By that time the woman was freezing and shaking, and her arm had gone numb. The overstretched Ambulance Service in the UK also left four people waiting for more than 50 hours. On one call the Welsh Ambulance Service took over 62 hours to respond.
Many of these are extreme cases, but the average time it takes in the UK for an ambulance to respond is over 120 minutes; it wouldn’t be ideal if you had a gunshot wound. Still, with ambulance rides in the Unites States costing anywhere between 400 and 2700 dollars, at least in the UK it pays to be a little more patient.
2. Man with an arrow in his chest
In February of 2015, a picture surfaced on Reddit of a man waiting patiently for medical attention with an arrow sticking out of his chest. He appears to be smiling, and his son is sitting next to him, holding the bow, apparently guilty.
The image is amazing. It’s truly an emblem of exactly what it means to be most patient. Why does the kid have a bow in the hospital? And why does he appear to have only three fingers on his right hand? Many questions were raised as a result of this photograph, so reddit user Riotsquad9000 made an appeal to the original poster for answer. Fortunately, the original poster tuttibossi did eventually reply. He revealed that yes, it’s fake, and he took the picture of the set of a commercial for an insurance company.
Nevertheless, it’s a funny idea. I think we can all take a little inspiration from this image of saint-like patience.
As an honourable mention let’s take a look at one of the most patient animals in the world… This Man’s Dog.
In a display of faithfulness, loyalty and unerring patience, this man’s trusty hound appears more than happy to keep the time-bendingly slow pace set by his elderly owner. The dog doesn’t tug or bark, instead taking its time and sticking close to its owner. For those who truly believe that dogs are man’s best friend, the footage of this patient pooch is more than enough proof of that, and it might also bring a tear to the eye. Anyway, let’s get back to humans, to possibly one of the most astonishingly patient people.
1. Scott Weaver
If you’ve ever made a sculpture out of toothpicks, you’ll know that it’s a painstaking task that takes a great deal of concentration, a steady hand, and most of all, patience. Well, patience is something Scott Weaver has in buckets.
Scott’s day job is a grocery store clerk. When he takes his apron off at the end of the day, he becomes one of the world’s greatest toothpick sculptors. Scott has made all kinds of different large-scale sculptures out of toothpicks. Perhaps his most inspiring work is a 9-foot-tall replica of San Francisco called Rolling Through The Bay.
It took Scott 35 years and more than 100,000 toothpicks to create this masterpiece that meticulously represents famous landmarks and destinations from the City by the Bay. This video demonstrates the kinetic aspect of the sculpture, which involves 5 different pathways along which balls can roll through the city; it travels past famous landmarks like the Transamerica Pyramid and the Rice A Roni cable car.
Scott admits that there are in fact a few toothpick sculptures that are larger than his one; however, none of them have the kinetic qualities that Rolling Through The Bay does. Scott’s patience has enabled him to build some incredible pieces of work. He stands as a shining example of someone who has brought joy to their life through working on something little by little, every day. Even this questionable hat.
Anyone else really want to see this thing set alight? Sorry Scott, but I think it would be a sight to behold.
So, do you think you can beat these highly patient people? And what was the most patient thing you’ve ever done? Let me know in the comments section below. As always, thanks for reading, and see you next time!