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: