In a hurry to do nothing quicker

I don’t think there’s any greater or more profound microcosm of modern society than the guy who cuts you off in traffic, makes an illegal left turn across four lanes, and then screeches frantically into the drive thru at McDonalds. Maybe if it was two minutes until they switch from breakfast to lunch, I’d understand the fast and furious stunt driving to get there in time. But it’s 4 in the afternoon, bud, and that Big Mac isn’t going anywhere. Calm down. Take it easy. There’s plenty of greasy poison to go around. We’ll all get our diabetes, don’t you worry, just wait your turn and try not to get yourself hurt before your diet inevitably kills you.

Of all the statistics we constantly hear concerning vehicle related fatalities, I’d like to know how many folks are killed each year by people in a manic rush to get a fast food hamburger. Actually, scratch that. Don’t tell me. This world depresses me enough as it is.

It’s one of the many paradoxical absurdities of our society that we, generally speaking, have so little to do, yet we’re in such a rush to do it (or not do it, I guess). There’s no doubting that we lead a more leisurely life than commoners of past ages could have possibly fathomed, yet we run around like we’re being chased by velociraptors at all hours of the day. Contemplate this: The average human being in the United States will spend between 9 and 12 YEARS, cumulatively, watching television. Now, remind yourself of that next time you’re complaining about a long line at the grocery store. That’s certainly a lesson I need to keep in mind, personally.

The Babylonians came up with the concept of a minute, but nobody really made use of it until the Industrial Age. Now we’ve spliced that sucker all the way down to femtoseconds (a millionth billionth of a second) and it’s only a matter of time (pun intended, my apologies) before we start setting appointments by it. But maybe I shouldn’t say we’ve made “use” of time. It’s more like we’ve become slaves to it. We’re surrounded by clocks. We’re all constantly tortured by the mostly imaginary feeling that, wherever we are, we need to be somewhere else, and we need to get there yesterday.

I mean, I’m not saying we should become like many aboriginal tribes that don’t even have a word in their language for “time”. And I’m not saying we should completely ditch the digital clocks and instead tell the time by the sun, or, like natives in Papa New Guinea, by bird chirps. I’m just saying we could all do well to SLOW THE HELL DOWN. And maybe, for instance, I don’t need to have an exact time of day printed on my milk, telling me when it will go bad. All this said, there are some people in this country who go by a more relaxed, even primitive concept of time — people like the cable guy, for example.

Maybe he’s onto something.

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