Give me back my time

Monday, 9 September 2013

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but time’s ticking away, slipping through our fingers at several million milliseconds per hour. And here’s the thing. You can’t get it back. I’ve tried, but nada. It’s gone people, gone!

Fortunately for some, their time is more valuable than hours.  My lawyer charges a lot for his time.  So much that I wish I’d gone to law school.  (But who has that kind of time?  Oh, right. Wannabe lawyers.)  Here’s the thing.  I go into dealings with him knowing full well how much his time will cost me.  Best million I’ve ever spent.

Others seem to be operating on their own time/screw-you continuum.  Take your average GP. If yours is anything like mine, you can expect to wait.

My friend raves about her doctor.  Dr. H. has healing powers of Merlin and the bedside manner of Florence Nightingale.  But she does find herself waiting up to an hour and a half in his aptly named “waiting room.”  SERIOUSLY?!?  I would so be out of there.  (I do find dentists very punctual.  Curious indeed.)

Airlines are notorious time-takers.  Often it’s warranted. Bad weather… safety… both valid, wait-worthy concerns.  But some of the delays seem arbitrary.  For example, I’ve been on planes that have held-up departure, waiting for wayward passengers.   But when I arrived 10 minutes late for check-in (so yes, the plane is still there and not leaving for another 50 minutes) then it was, “Time’s up, Matisic!” I really felt the time = money pinch that day when I had to rent a car to drive home.

Anyone who’s had any work done on their home knows that when workers give you an arrival time, it’s just for s#!%s and giggles.  Just last week, I had some closet doors installed.  They told me they’d arrive between 1:30 and 2:30. Like the punctual, time-valuing gal that I am, I was at home waiting by 1:29.  Work day, mind you.  They called to say they’d be late, more like 4.  They arrived at 4:15.

It was very nice of them to call and alert me of the delay and they were very apologetic about it. (And my closet doors look great, see below.) But you give me an hour window and then you come almost 2 hours late?  Apologies are nice and all, but they don’t really help me. I want my time back.  

Don’t get me started on friends who are late, habitually.  I see punctuality as a sign of respect.  You make me wait?  Clearly your time is more valuable than mine and, it follows, that you think you are more important than I am.  Have a nice time having dinner on your own.

I do wish time was seen as a true commodity; something that could be traded, banked, and offered in compensation.  (In Time. Bad movie, interesting concept.) You’re ½ hour late? Great, you owe me half an hour so please come over and walk my dog.

Failing that, if time = money, then if you take my time, you owe me money. Because the converse is definitely true: if you take my money, you do the time, at least when the system works properly.

I say let’s start truly valuing time – both our own and that of others – because before you know it, time’s up. 



My closet doors that cost more than just money.




Top photo: Kinchan1/flickr

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  • Pat Bryan

    Oh the wasted hours of waiting. I agree with so much of what you said. I think there should be a way of billing doctors, hair professional or any other person who makes you wait for prolonged periods.
    I work in a pediatric hospital, the physicians think nothing of having people wait for an hour or more to be seen. But if someone is late and they are delayed and have to wait OH the temper tantrums they throw would make a 2 year old proud and envious.
    You are right about the respect issue, I believe that if someone is habitually late they can if they want shift their life by 15 minutes and start to be on time.
    We have no control over air lines. I once spent 16 hours waiting for a 30 min flight whch never did happen. (It was not safe to drive that day). I travel with a book or e reader, I accept that the person on the desk has no control over flight times, so yelling at them is pointless and I refuse to let bad planning or scheduling ruin my day. I try to find a place of calm , It is my choice to be angry and frustrated or just accept that sh*t happens and accept the chance to read and relax.

  • Eugen

    I’ve found I get to reclaim a lot of time by eliminating a lot of things that just waste time — like a lot of different TV programs. Instead, I spend time with friends, or take walks with my wife, or sit on the deck and read, or spend a day with my grown kids cooking or baking or just going to the museums. By eliminating a lot of things I don’t need to do I’ve found more time. An excellent example is I just don’t do “social media” because there’s nothing social about it. I don’t want to spend time updating a Facebook page or tweeting my latest intestinal distress. Instead, I’d rather go to a pub with friends and just catch up in real life. It’s the same reason I don’t disconnect from the world with earbuds. I watch people as I sit in a cafe. I listen to friends, not bury my head in my texts.

    Time can be regained, but you have to regain it from other more nefarious places you’ve lost it to.

  • KikiMa17

    They look great! and YES, I absolutely despise when people are late. We all have things to do and everyone’s time IS important! So rude! Next time, I will have them have dinner on their own! LoL