My Time Is Important

And so is yours.  But some folks believe their time is so much more important than everyone else’s and act on that narcissistic premise.

For example, grocery lines.  I’ve not been in a grocery store that doesn’t  have an “express” line for folks with less than about 10 items.  Yet, I regularly encounter folks who qualify for the express line pass it up because…there are a few folks in that line and these self-annointed VIPs cannot be inconvenienced to wait in line for a few minutes as if they were members of the lumpenproteletariat.

Instead, they lurk around a “regular” line hoping that the next person in line will recognize their exalted status and allow them in since they only have a few items. I ignore these folks.

When I was once directly asked by someone who appeared to be a frat boy with a case of beer and a few bags of chips to go with it to let him in line, I pointed out that he was in luck…he had enough items to qualify for the “express” line and pointed him in the right direction. He slunk away, recognizing that the chastening I had delivered was quite proper.

And woe to you if you are ahead of me in a line and let someone in. I’m going to point out that your action was quite rude. You have no right to delay me by doing that.

The “equitable” approach is to give up your place in line  to whoever you want to let in and go to the back of the line. Then, the relative order of positions is maintained. But I have yet to see anyone do that.  Which tells me that they believe in “charity” only if they incur minimal personal cost. Which means they truly lack charity.

Let’s do the math. Assume that the person who is let in line needs only two minutes to check out once at the counter. Also assume they do not have to wait even one minute to get to the counter.  (Otherwise, add that time to the math.) If there are six persons waiting, they each lose two minutes and now a total of 12 minutes has been wasted.

So “kindness” to one person has inconvenienced six persons and without a single one of them being asked to consent to the inconvenience. Because only one person is happy and up to six are not, it is clear that Jeremy Bentham would not approve.

Another example is folks who think I’ll be happy to take their business call during my lunch period. Since I don’t make the big bucks that the clerical staff who buy their lunch every day obviously do, I brown bag it and stay at my desk during lunch while I read the national news online, which is allowed by my employer’s policy.

But at least once or twice a week, my phone rings during lunch. It doesn’t happen at a “gray” time, such as 12:05 or 12:55; I’m talking “no doubt it’s lunch time” periods, such as 12:30. Caller ID tells me it is a consultant. And he’s not calling knowing it’s lunch to leave me voice message for later. He wants to talk to me right now because when I do not answer he does not leave voice mail. He calls back after lunch…as he should.

My attitude is simple: my lunch period is my time, not yours.  Folks have eight hours a day available to call me but no one will intrude on my time. I am not paid for it, and I use it to unwind so that I can do a good job for the rest of the day. So do not expect me to answer the phone during lunch!

Then, there’s the attitude of so many folks on the road.  They are in such a rush to get wherever they’re going they’re willing to risk my life to save a few minutes. If it was only their life at stake, I’d have absolutely no problem with these folks.

So, for the last few months, I’ve taken it upon myself to provide free lessons in patience to these folks. Whenever I notice someone attempting to pass me, and the opportunity presents itself (and it often does), I increase my speed just enough to “box in” the driver trying to pass me by closing the gap between my vehicle and the one in the adjacent lane. I’ve been giving these free lessons about 3-4 times each weekday. Of course, with rising gas prices, I suspect I will be giving fewer lessons since I expect to start regularly passing SUVs for the first time since gas was over $4 / gallon.

Time is on my side….


You may have noticed that one of the tags is “postaweek.”  While I was aware of the “post a day” challenge because I know a blogger who’s doing it, I only recently became award of the lower level challenge. Since I already post once a week, I decided to join up. May bring a few new readers my way.


13 responses to “My Time Is Important

  1. You are so mean! I mean…funny 🙂 You know, I think those people in line at the grocery and on the road are the same people! It’s like a mindset. I go through that roadway scenario at least twice a day. On both sides of I-10, the road narrows from 3 lanes to 2, and there are without fail, people zooming by you on the right, knowing they will have to merge further ahead. It so annoys me, but I always slow down and let them in, because otherwise they will just merge anyway into a space no bigger than a matchbox between me and the next car. I’m afraid they will hit me or cause me to hit them. Sigh.

    • FN, every time I’ve invited a collision in that merge lane when someone is trying to get into the lane from in back of me, they have declined. They know they will be charged but (to use a poker analogy) if they can get you to fold… go all in and THEY will fold!

  2. P.S. That lunch scenario is why voicemail was invented 🙂

  3. Well I have good news for you both. When you retire you don’t have to go anywhere during rush hour so you can largely avoid the assholes that are out there. No lines at the grocery store Tuesday at 10 AM. No traffic on Gunn Highway either, or Thomasville road. The new Tallahassee Publix is actually a pleasure to go into and the parking lot is almost functional. Excluding the damn interchange between Capital Circle, I-10 and Thomasville Rd. It’s not bad on Sunday Morning at 7 AM but during rush hour it sucks like Miami.

    As for passing on the right and squeaking into a sliver of space only to purchase a car length advantage in bumper to bumper traffic I have had several memorable “victories” in blocking out assholes. Once on a 20 mile southbound stretch on 75 from Wildwood to the National Cemetery exit I boxed a woman out, carefully maneuvering my High Top Van to prevent her getting around the “block”. When she turned her blinker on to exit I slowed enough to let her get even with me and then, with a big grin, I flipped her off. The look of rage made my day:) Obviously I still remember it vividly.

    • PT, you obviously have been operating the Central Florida region’s “driver patience” training in a most commendable way! I salute you! Keep up the good work!

      Yes, I am looking forward to that “peaceful” aspect of retirement.

  4. I have to admit to cracking up at these testosterone tales 🙂 I loved the “almost functional” parking lot (must be a first for Publix!) and “sucks like Miami”. Because it would indeed be hard to find something that sucks more.
    Of course the critical phrase in your comment pt, is “high-top van”. It reminds me of when I used to live in Iowa, I would sometimes drive the company truck, a Ford F-150 that we used to plow snow, and it just amazed me how much people would get out of my way. Whereas, driving my Camaro, it’s like I was invisible. My point being, it helps to have muscle behind you 🙂

  5. I’d sort of instinctually only let people in front of me if I was the only one in line, but now that I think about it, I have been victimized that way. People! Bah!

    • You weren’t “victimized”; it was “charity” and since no one in back of you that was OK.

      • I totally agree…it’s a good gesture as long as you are only choosing for yourself and not for the other people in line behind you. I think you should think about your math, though, SC–I wonder if only the person directly behind the intruder is delayed by 2 minutes. I think the person in line behind them is delayed by 4 minutes. And on down the line. But I’ll be the first to say that math is not exactly my strong point. I’ll ask my engineer sister.

  6. Here in the real world spencercourt, I’m driving a vehicle even smaller than yours. It brings new meaning to the concept of “defensive driving” 🙂 I have to be more about self-protection than about making a point.

  7. Very good points, all of these. I’ve never seen anyone ask to be let ahead in line when there are several people waiting. If I’m the last one in the grocery check-out line and someone with just a handful of items comes along, I may offer to let them ahead of me, but I’ve never been asked.

    The inconsiderate people on the road drive me the most nuts. I wonder where they get their confidence. Is it because they don’t really have to face anyone and own up to their actions that they are so comfortable breaking the rules?

    I ignore phone solicitors while I’m at home. This is MY downtime. Thank god for caller ID.

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