Archived Story

Time differs depending on whose clock it is

Published 9:54am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Column: Staff Notes, by Colleen Thompson

People take comfort in brevity.

Whenever we have the slightest idea that something could take a drop more patience than we have or might involve something excruciating, like our full attention, we like to take comfort in brevity.

Colleen Thompson

So are promises of false brevity a comfort even when we know that something lengthy is actually sure to follow?

“Don’t worry, this will just hurt a bit,” says the dentist as he pries a not-so-loose tooth from your mouth.

“I’ll make this brief and get right to the point,” says a lecturer about to give a 90-minute speech about hydroplaning.

“It will only take a moment,” says the receptionist in the hospital waiting room. Forty-five minutes later, you see the white jacket and stethoscope round the corner. And then she calls someone else’s name. Someone that came in after you.

It seems as if we relax just a little bit when we know that the person who is forcing us to endure whatever situation is aware that the participants don’t exactly want to be there. As long as the process is as quick and painless and possible, and both parties are working toward completion, there’s common ground.

I feel like we like to see an endpoint in everything, even if it’s something we enjoy. No matter how passionate an athlete is for a sport, there’s no way that he or she would want a four-hour practice every day. Singers in the church choir wouldn’t just sit back and laugh if the director said practice would be two hours longer to perfect Handel’s Messiah. All 259 pages of it. And during a long day at school, both student and teacher clock-watchers work toward that final bell and constantly remind themselves that freedom is just a bell’s ring away.

Our attention spans are short. There’s a high probability that some readers started reading this column, but stopped reading a couple of paragraphs ago because it wasn’t brief enough.

If there’s one thing we like to control, it’s the way we spend our time. When we are confined to someone else’s clock, well, time doesn’t really fly.

So, to honor the topic of this column, the end.

Colleen Thompson is a freshman at University of Sioux Falls majoring in entrepreneurial studies and media marketing. Between semesters, she works part time at the Albert Lea Tribune as a reporter.