Greenwich, in the mean time

Having been lucky enough to see a variety of cultures, I have noted that the concept of time is always one of the differentiating items, facts or habits. While in spain or italy, there is no question about being late. No one is in time, ever. This is known and accepted by most, so let it slide. In germany, lateness is common, but the germans are furious about that. Turkish, tunisian, and greek people seem to live without the time. Their watch, in their hand, is just for show. In finland, people waste time all happily talking about people being late. Even when they have arrived, the hurry has gone and all the more late, all the more to blame the one who was late. Finnish transit has timetables like “07.11,  07.19,, 07.26”  instead of the islands way, “four times an hour”.

Clockface

Clockface

On the island, it seems that time is a different concept, it no longer remains as the fourth dimension, or anything that can be measured with any accuracy. The normal rules do not apply here, so abovementioned comparison is impossible. The time stands still and things are the way they used to be and there is no changing them. As that is the way they have always been.Suppose that the goal here is to stop the time altogether. The name of the game is in the name of the timezone. Time is considered mean, perhaps. Or it has already been approved, that in the mean time, you wait. People are late all the time, there is no question about that. I know people who are still in the bath when they are supposed to be meeting someone on a certain time that was agreed upon by both parties. You see, I think that you make a commitment when setting up a meeting at a certain time. You agree to be there and not waste anyones time. Otherwise there could just not be agreements leaning on the time factor. How about suggesting for a meet in a certain place? No need for time, as we know that the concept escapes everyone here, on the island. Place could be agreed upon and people would just show up when they want. Polite people would call afore to investigate that are you there, at this time when they choose to arrive. Actually this is the way it is done now. I for one will trade my wristwatch to a compass. It is a lot more usefull around here, and one can tell the time with it. Accurately enough, at least for local habits.

As time is not a renewable source, the colossal and organized waste of it is ludicrous. Why is it a norm that you wait for minutes everywhere. Absolutely everywhere, the world is robbig my time. No, my time is not precious and I have plenty of it, but it is still mine. I want to choose how to waste it. I mean, why do richj people hang onto their money, instead of just giving it away. Shelling their wad on the streetcorner, while waiting. I tell you why, since they do not ever wait, so this cannot be done. See they have maximized their wads by making you wait. Your time is cheap, or free for them. By robbing it, they get richer.The most common waits…

  • Waiting on the phone, for the call to connect, for someone to answer and then, to get your say. This takes anything from 5 seconds (my answering machine), to a minute (the wife) to tens of minutes (public services, insurance company, ISPs, gas, water, electricity…) Someone is making money every second you spend on that call. Several pople, in fact. Phonecompanies (you do get a phonebill, do you not?), service providers (understaffing is a goldmine) and managers (bonuses on making you wait just the right amount, not too much and not too little). You have noticed that if you are calling to give your money, the answe comes quick. To complain or enquire about a service you are allready getting takes an absolute age.
  • Queuing. The word is as long as the subject it refers to. More than three people anywhere? A queue is formed. Individuals pride themselves on their skills to manage a good Q, holding their place and amusing themselves while staring at the back of the head of the person in front of them. Why is this skill necceccary? Bootlicking is a skill that is absolutely vital in “Paranoia”, a role playing game. It seems absurd, when you play it, that such a skill is VITAL. Well, it is. So is QQQing, in this world. Russians are the best in it. They have been fisted for so long, that they are born with the skill. People make money out of selling places on these Qs. The closer to the front, the more expensive the place. All Qs are hours in there. A friend who went through russia on a train said that the one thing he learnt during that trip, was standing in line.  He said that three hours is a very short Q there.
  • Traffic. M25 is the biggest parking lot in the world. It is since in case of any accident, it gets congested or shuts down completely. This is a daily routine. You just wait to hear it in the radio, junction 11 has a crash. So what is new. The trip to ones home, where the children are growing older, food is getting colder and the day is getting darker, takes an hour longer, again.
  • Service in a restaurant, for example. There is a certain aspect about wainting in a restaurant, that makes it acceptable. We all know that it takes some time to prepare food. You can have drinks, conversations and starters, while waiting. There is also waiting to get to the table and you are waited at, by a waiter no less.  Dinner reservations are always for at least two hours, as that is what it takes. And this is fine. The game is played with those rules and this, I do accept. The problem comes when someone breaks the rules. The waiting to be seated, the 3 pounds fifty for my miniscule coke, the waiters shameless flirting with my wife an the slightly too hard a seat near the noisy family becomes all too much the second that the rules are changed. Any wrong action can tip the scales, wrong order or cold maincourse, spilling of wine or screaming of baby. My  heart goes out to the restaurant managers and I do try to give feedback on a regular basis, both good and bad.

But not everyone has to wait. It takes a certain kind of person or certain situation, or demeanor, not to be one of us waiters. In the doctors office, the doctor never waits. You wait for the doctor. Nurses prep you to be ready when the doctor comes. The paperwork is done outside, the doctors hardly even type themselves. They are the most solid example of these non waiting people, who do not have to wait. Such people or social class does exist. Personal assistants are hired to handle situations and erands. That include a lot of waiting. Doctors have nurses that handle that. They perform triage just to put people on the right order of wait. Those that are the worst of, do not have to wait, as there is a mortal danger for doing so. That is the only way you do not have to wait, if you would otherwise die. I was once coming home after a night of having fun, found myself drowning in the freezing ocean. Luckily I was with a friend who called for help and was whizzed away in minutes, to home. That was the fastest ride home I have ever had. But, I did almost die. I suppose that is what it takes.

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