Of Course It Can Wait

One of the many reasons I believe I was fortunate to have been raised in the Philippines, and not in the U.S.,  is that I am not a prisoner of time.  If anything, time is my prisoner.  And it’s a life sentence….   😉

Although the Philippines was a Spanish colony for centuries, I’m not sure I attribute Spanish influence to my relaxed attitude about time.  Many other Asian countries are similarly relaxed and they were not Spanish colonies.

Although I’ve only been to three European countries, that limited experience cannot lead me to say that the U.S. fixation with “now” was inherited from that continent.  Certainly Spain, with it’s two to three hour lunch periods during which just about everything is closed, was least concerned with time.  Our three weeks in Italy was also very laid back.  We were only in England for a week, so I’m not going to make any conclusion about the stiff upper lip Brits (but there is that afternoon tea).  Without benefit of any research, I’d venture to suggest that the fixation with time is most pronounced in the U.S.

I think it’s quite obvious that many Americans are prisoners to the clock.  And to the technology that allows continual connection to the world.  I connect to the world on my terms, not anyone else’s.  Others take a different approach, sometimes by choice but sometimes not.

I recently had a very close encounter of the third kind with continual connection.  And I found it very unnerving.

For training purposes, I was accompanied on a business trip by a new, young employee in our office.  The drive to our destination was about an hour.  It was difficult, for me at least, to carry on any sustained conversation longer than about five minutes because she was either receiving (or replying) to a personal text message or a phone call.  I considered it rude and eventually decided not to engage in further conversation.

And while it’s one thing to be “on call” for business during the workday, it’s quite another to remain on that status 24/7. Especially on vacation.  When I take a two or three week vacation, I carry no office-issued communications device where I can be reached by voice or e-mail.  Nor do I check my office e-mail.  I’m supposed to be getting away from work, remember? Not conducting it from another location.

I do check in once a week to update my boss on all the fun I’m having and to see if there is some “hot” issue in my areas of expertise that management does not want handled by anyone else.  Nor do I want anyone else to handle it… because that only burnishes my reputation for the day they will pay me $150 an hour as a consultant.  Other than that call, I’m not concerned the least bit about what’s happening, or not happening, at work.

Yet it seems to me that a lot of folks are still on the job during “vacation.”  So no wonder they return from “vacation” still stressed out….  They never really left the job.

The financial bailout was premised on the idea that some firms are “too big too fail.”  I do not share that philosophy.  Similarly, I do not believe that anyone is “indispensable.”  Including me.

Yes, the office may not function as smoothly and may possibly even descend into…anarchy…but all organizations will muddle on regardless.  Once anyone gets the idea they are “indispensable” they are entering a psychological environment that will lead to their being fired.

So if I am dispensable, I don’t expect, or want, to be treated as indispensable when I’m not working.  I’ll call you on vacation, but don’t call me.

And I’m not necessarily talking about the managers in my office.  I’m talking about those who I work with outside the office.  I recall one instance when a consultant somehow managed to convince our receptionist to give him my office cell phone number when I was at a meeting out of town. Thinking it was my boss, I answered the call.  When I realized it was not my boss, I replied that I was in a meeting and would get back to him the next day.  (The receptionist was directed never to give out my number to anyone again unless it was by management.)

Outside the office, I’m even more adamant about not surrendering to the siren of a ringing telephone.  At home, if I’m doing something, I’m not going to interrupt that to take a phone call unless I’m expecting it.  And when we’re out and about, I leave the cell phone turned off unless I’m expecting a call.  That’s why phones have a message feature.  Just about everything can wait, but you wouldn’t know that from the way some folks just have to take every call no matter where they are or what they’re doing.

Not to mention that I don’t’ care to have anyone within voice range knowing my business.  Folks say they’re concerned about personal privacy but they regularly give it all away when they speak on a cell phone in public.  I can’t see what folks say; I only listen to what they do.  And anyone talking on a cell phone in public doesn’t care about their privacy.  (“Yes dear, I’m getting the chocolate-flavored, glow-in-the-dark Trojans with the ribbed tip.  And does your rabbit vibrator take double or triple A‘s?”)

It’s time to check my “to do” list.   Cook dinner… later.  Work on my Puerto Rico photos for my website… maybe tomorrow.  Tweak a few things for next month’s week in Vegas…sometime next week.  Now here’s something that’s very important and can’t be delayed – turn the phone off and take a nap!

Time WILL let me….! Don’t believe these guys:


6 responses to “Of Course It Can Wait

  1. I love your attitude! I sooo share your feelings about people who MUST answer every text message and/or phone call the minute they get it. If your new co-worker keeps that up, I suspect she won’t be there long. And she will be totally shocked as to why.
    Since I am in a customer service business, I can’t tell you how much trouble I have making employees take off their Blue Tooth earpieces…they just don’t understand. I say…by wearing this, you are telegraphing to the customer that you are just waiting for something more important than them to come along. The employees are like, Huh? I could ban personal cell phones at work, but that would be an exercise in failure, and as a manager, you try not to make rules that are unenforceable.

    • Thew folks with Blue Tooths permanently attached topt heir ears have become one with the Borg. There’s a guy a work that I have never seen without his Blue Tooth. Maybe he’s got a job as a call center rep too!

  2. One should remember as we get older that the younger pups coming up have a whole different outlook on life. I am sure that when our parents were our age and we were the pup’s age that the same could be said.

    It is a generational thing. Each generation brings good and bad forward. And as we get older time seems to fly by faster.

    And one must also remember that 20 years ago we had no cell phones when most of us were in the pup’s age range. We also had no Internet. PC’s were just starting to come on the market. And in our parents day TV was Black and White and a gas was around 74 cents a gallon and this nations was righteous and free. Times change and we must adapt. Or at least start our own revolution. And start over. The late 60’s and early 70’s movement has the right idea. It was just never accomplished.

    Just like 8 track tapes. Than came smaller tapes. Lp’s became CD’s. Than came MP3 players and flash drives. What will be next. And of course the death of the newspaper is now at hand.

    What will the pup’s generation say about there younger counter parts when they are our age?

    It is all relative.

    I agree about time and relaxing as you go.

    I have never been one for 9-5 jobs. Or for that matter working for someone else. Having worked for myself for almost half my adult life now.

    The laid back availability of working for ones self allows for freedom and more time to enjoy the small things in life. And in most cases a lot more money. But money is not everything also. It is a means to a end and if you adjust your means you can move towards the same end.

    And after all time is what is the most precious commodity of them all.

    We are all equal when it comes to time. No one person gets more or less depending on there social status or who they know or who they donate loads of money too. Yea I know some live longer than others but most of the time that plays out with your blood line.

    So I agree we need to slow down. Relax and experience all that life has to offer. I pose this question. Do you want to be the person who sits on the rocking chair on the porch saying “I wish I had done this. Or I never got around to doing that and now it is to late.” Or the person that can say ” I did what I wanted out of life and I am fulfilled knowing I road the big wave and the ride was good.

    If having less means having a better life I say Sign me up. As long as one is happy than dam the torpedo’s full steam ahead.

    Or you could say I had three of a kind but the other guy had a higher 3 of a kind but the hand was fun.

    I am back…..


    Oh my team got spanked yesterday. I do not think they even got off the bus. But it was a good run. Go Gators.

  3. > Lp’s became CD’s

    Hold on…LP is not dead yet. In 2008, LP sales hit an 18 year high: almost 2 million.


  4. I wish more people shared your attitude. I have a cell phone but use it very rarely. Really only by necessity. Nothing irritates me more than being on vacation with friends who can’t separate themselves from the cell phone. Or bowling on Monday night with the friend who is also tethered to her cell phone. Did you want to spend time with me? If not, I can leave you and your phone alone.

    • As Humor101 noted, I believe this is a generational difference. We “older’ folks are not as concerned about constant “instant” communication as younger folks.

      And, I didn’t even mention the online aspect: instant messaging, checking Facebook every two hours, Twitter, etc….

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