Trying to beat the clock often a losing battle


First Posted: 8/28/2009

People can struggle with many things in life, and for me and a lot of other folks I know, theres always been a constant battle with time.
For as long as I can remember, Ive had a giant monkey on my back shaped like a clock. And no matter what, I can never seem to control time; it manages to dominate me instead.
One problem with time is that it can be so unfair, and its rules dont seem to favor human beings, who, after all, are prone to delays and mistakes and usually dont function with the efficiency of a Swiss watch. Yet we have to live by times rigid rules all the same.
For example, people must spend many hours doing things they dont really like, like working full-time jobs, just so they can have a few hours for what they do enjoy. Why cant it be the other way around? Couldnt society be set up so folks work only a few hours and play for 40?
Time just has everything its own way, and theres nothing we can do or no one we can complain to in order to change its strict laws.
Albert Einstein once made a great statement about time when someone asked him to explain his complicated theory of relatively in simple terms. Einstein said relatively is sitting on a hot stove for 15 minutes and having it seem like three hours, or talking to a pretty girl for three hours and having that seem like 15 minutes.
I see Einsteins explanation in action constantly.
Its amazing how fast 11:30 p.m. arrives when Im in a newspaper office trying to write three stories and the clock on the wall is laughing at me as its hands spin around the dial at supersonic speed. I am able to grasp the full meaning of New York minute only I aint in New York. The hands of the clock might as well be wearing boxing gloves.
If I was the type of person who believed in the supernatural, I would suspect that time is getting even with me for my years of disrespect in being late to classes, job assignments or social appointments. It has done so by placing me in the newspaper profession where EVERYTHING is about time.
On the other hand, I have been employed at places where the work load and time constraints werent as demanding, when the passing of eight hours seemed like an eternity.
Personally, I first became aware of the cruel rules of time as a first-grader, even before I knew there was an Einstein. I had trouble understanding its limitations as far as getting out of bed, washing up, getting dressed and eating breakfast within a certain period in order to be ready for the school bus.
The trusty bus always seemed to be late on those mornings when I got everything done fast and went outside, which first made me realize what a double-edged sword time can be. Of course, on those days when I was running a little slow the bus would be early, which then would require a ride in a car with a mom not exactly overjoyed to be driving her son to school again.
Along with its unfairness, that lack of consistency is the most-hateful thing about time.
For example, I have rushed to an airport to make a flight and literally walked on the plane just as the crew was closing the gate. Then there have been occasions when Ive casually arrived well in advance of the departure time only to learn that my flight was delayed for five hours.
Airplanes are a lot like school buses, I have found.
The time limitations involved with getting out of the house every morning havent gotten any easier now that Im an adult. Its amazing how long it still takes to button a shirt and put on two socks, a belt and other items. And its all because that mean old clock chooses to make 10 minutes pass by like 30 seconds when it knows you must get somewhere fast.
And then while youre headed to that destination, naturally, mean old time pulls another fast one on you by making sure every red light along the way lasts forever, just like Einstein said.
My question is, in this era of wondrous technological achievements, why cant someone invent a button that you can push to pause life as you can a VCR or DVD?
Tom Joyce is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at [email protected] or 719-1924.

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