I've finally figured it out. It has taken me a long time. I am the victim of PATIENCE, or at least the concept of patience. Here's what happens...
I'm sitting, knitting. It's usually socks because they are small and fit in my bag. Anyway, it could be anything, a hat even. A non-knitter begins a conversation asking what I am knitting. After making the appropriate noises over my project, they let me have it... "I wish I could knit, but I just don't have the patience."
"Lady," I think (because they usually are women), "you have absolutely NO IDEA with whom you are speaking." (and yes, I do think that way, my mom was a librarian and a primary school teacher).
Patience. It may be a virtue but it is NOT one of mine.
I suffer no fools gladly, I am "Difficult to Manage" (per my past employment evaluations). If you ask a silly question, you are liable to get a highly technical, factually accurate answer designed to make you feel like a complete boob. I write scathing letters to companies, personalities and elected officials on a regular basis. I have a toxic vocabulary and can impugn your ancestry all the way back to the last ice age in words so long and complex you need an unabridged dictionary to sort them out. Patience my hiney.
In the past, I have responded to the Impatient Lady with a smile. "Oh no! I exclaimed. "I am one of the LEAST patient humans on the planet. I do this so I don't sit and twitch."
It didn't work. I always got that smile. You know the one... that smile that implies that you are really Job in disguise, and refuse to admit that you have endless amounts of patience (as evidenced by the knitting) and are concealing your light under a bushel of denial. Nothing you can possibly do or say at this point will deter the Impatient Lady from her conviction that I possess PATIENCE.
As I say, I have figured it out, finally. When the Impatient Lady lets me have it with the patience line, I look up, carefully examine her and smile. Then I let her have it.
"I don't have to be patient. I'm fast".
BOOM! There it is! Not a self deprecating disclaimer about my lack of patience. I have countered her patience argument with a statement so blatantly pompous and self assured that usually she laughs in astonishment!
Some Impatient Ladies back slowly away and sit down quietly, but most start a long and pleasant conversation about handwork and I usually refer them to my Local Yarn Shop (sometimes I even have their business card in with my yarn).
I'm attempting to convert the world, one knitter at a time. If I have to do it by being pompous, so be it.