Who stole the time?
I was approaching, in my car, some months ago, one of those ubiquitous discount fuel outlets that have become symbolic of our consumer age. As I had a voucher handy I decided that I should probably refuel.
As I swung in behind the last car I noticed that others, quite a few others, had the same idea. I turned the car around and stopped half way along the twenty car queue, got out, faced the throng and screamed ‘you’re all mad.’
The insanity of it all. Supposedly intelligent people had decided that the saving of probably no more than two or three dollars was worth waiting in line (with engines running idle for much of that time I’ll wager) for half an hour or more.
Is this what we, in the smog curdled mortgage ridden urban anomie, have been reduced to. So strangled by the effects of striving that we sell our time to wait at motor vehicle soup kitchens. We head out to our motorways and then fret because we are late and burdened and because we have no time.
We call time our enemy and yet we prefer to experience bowser queuing passivity and refer to it as choice. We have become consumer prostitutes. We have been hoodwinked into playing the game by someone else’s rules and then call it freedom.
The western collective mantra, that “Time Is Money” — the flogged and caned phrase that has become a doctrine which on it hangs, seemingly, the matter of life and death and rewards those who can master it, has paralysed us into thinking that others are responsible for stealing our time when what has actually happened is that we have sold it rather cheaply.
What is it in our collective complex that makes us stalk check outs with pack horse trolleys looking for the fast lane because we have bought more than we need, whining that the retail giant is yet again under staffed at the hour we choose to shop, then sit, lemming like, in our mobile mansions, with quasi satisfaction that we have in our hand proof that we have played their game and won?
Thinking as I did, having created some space for the task, that it would perhaps be more productive to sit on a bus, going no where in particular and ponder whether someone has been stealing from us or whether we have been selling low. I concluded that we’re so used to selling our time we don’t know how to buy it.
Then I remembered that someone once asked a Navajo Indian for the time and the old gentleman, bemused that he should be asked such a question, replied – “Now.”