Archived Story

Gee, where, oh, where does the time go?

Published 9:11am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Column: Tales from Exit 22, by Al Batt

Once upon a time, there was more time.

Or maybe time didn’t exist until we could tell time.

There used to be time to daydream. A time to dawdle. A time to count fireflies. A time to watch mosquitoes chase joggers.

There was a time when I’d sit, a seatbelt-free, free-range kid in the backseat of an elderly car, and ask a parent, “Are we there yet?”

Now I get there too soon.

Today, a family hits the road while Pa talks to the office on his cellphone, Ma checks her emails, and the kids in the backseat text while watching videos or listening to music through earbuds. When they arrive at a lovely site, they Facebook or Twitter.

Where did that time I had in my youth go?

Someone is always telling us that we get 24 hours a day just as Oprah, Justin Bieber and Joe Mauer do, but we know better. Somehow, they have figured out a way to swipe a few of our minutes here and there.

Time is a blessing. Time is a burden. Its definition depends upon which side of the bathroom door we find ourselves.

Time is the most precious and elusive of all commodities. A friend surprised me by starting a conversation without mentioning the weather or his lawn. We grow grass. We mow grass. Time is the real victim. He wanted to show me his new truck. The pickup had the name “Dodge” on one area and “Ram” on another. I don’t know where or when he’ll find the time to do both.

He mentioned seeing a famous person who had undergone extensive elective plastic surgery. That’s not always a wise choice. It isn’t the face that needs turning back. It’s the clock.

Time seemed to go slower when I was a boy, but I tried to speed it up.

“I wish tomorrow were Saturday,” I’d whine regularly, most frequently on a Monday.

“Don’t wish your life away,” my mother responded wisely. “It will go by fast enough.”

I think much time goes into cellphones where it is turned into bills.

I was telling a granddaughter what my childhood was like. “We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from an old car tire. It hung from a tree in the yard. We played hide-and-go-seek in an endless barn. I rode a pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods. We played baseball and softball in the pasture.”

My grandchild listened to all the slobber I had babbled, before saying, “Sounds like fun. I wish I had known you then.”

One of the local friendly farmers told me that he couldn’t get all his corn in the ground. He ran out of time and was considering planting radishes instead. Don’t worry. You won’t be eating radish flakes in milk as your cereal each morning. Unless you really want to. The radishes will serve as a cover crop.

Because I write for a living, I spend much of my time alone. That’s OK because there is no heavy lifting or sweat involved. I thought about that as I sat in a busy airport. Busy people in a busy airport were intent on sharing their side of a cellphone conversation with me. People complain about airports, but I enjoy them as much as a man can enjoy them. I endeavor to get there early, thereby eliminating the stress involved in the possibility of missing a flight. Shakespeare said that it is better to be three hours early than one minute late. I find a quiet place to drink my tea and get some work done. I’d prefer it if it were a bit quieter. It’s not the loud-talking cellphone users that bother me. It’s those TVs blaring at me. I don’t want to watch or hear them, but apparently TVs have charms to soothe the savage breast. Or savage beast, if you are more comfortable with it being said that way. As long as I have a book, a notebook and a pen that my wife had given me for a special occasion like a Wednesday, my cellphone, and my iPad, I’m as happy as a puppy with two tails. Airports are supersized reading rooms.

There are a couple of things you could do to slow the rush of time.

Stay on a phone until someone says, “Let me put you on hold.”

Watch the clock intently.

Marry a man from Hartland. That will make your life seem a great deal longer.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.