If You Asked Me, Letters & Opinion

It’s About Time

I have absolutely no problem waiting my turn in line as protocol dictates. However, I seriously have a problem when it seems that my time is frivolously squandered away by those to whom I as a customer depend on for service. Even worse is when I have a million things to do in a short space of time.

By now everyone – I’m assuming here – must have heard the adage, “Time waits for no man”. However, through some twisting and turning of that adage, I find myself waiting longer than I think I should on people to get even the simplest things done while time expectedly moves along.

On a daily basis, I observe that time is being disregarded by the very people who confidently espouse that they are doing everything in their power to not waste my or their time. Take the express line at the supermarket, for example, where I’m told that customers will be served expeditiously because they are expected to check no more than ten items.

On almost every occasion I join that particular so-called express line, I find myself being bewildered by fellow customers with crammed trolleys of upwards of twenty items. In some instances, whenever someone points out the anomaly, the invariable retort runs along the lines of “I’m paying my money” or “Do something about it, uh.” Even worse, the cashier quite often is either new on the job — making him or her less adept at controlling the cash register — or too tired from the long shift.

On some occasions, even if I’m second in line with my three items or less, I find that too much time is wasted by customers who think it best to start looking for their cash or credit cards only after the cashier would have scanned their deluge of items. Sometimes a cheque has to be written out or a loyalty card searched for in about a dozen locations. Meanwhile, I’m supposed to stand in line and witness the drama unfold as time gets disrespected.

There have been many occasions when I opted out of such warped time zones and walked across the city after waiting for an inordinate length of time to get that same service rendered. True it might seem that I’m expending more time by doing that. But I prefer doing that as opposed to being stuck in one place while time passes me by, almost mocking me in the process. Besides, while walking I might probably run into an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in a long time.

In my line of work, I’m often invited to press conferences and other events for which the invitations clearly state that the proceedings would begin promptly at the scheduled time. Quite often, I show up either on time – or ahead of time, if that’s possible — only to find myself in an empty room waiting for organizers to show up.

About half an hour, someone comes in and tells me that they are awaiting the arrival of my media colleagues said to be on their way. Invariably, the event begins with the clichéd apologies for the late start and then I’m supposed to feel better in being late for my next appointment. On such occasions, traffic jams get blamed a lot for people running behind time.

Okay, here’s the thing. If we truly consider time being as precious as we say, then we should all endeavour to respect time by sticking to it. Of course, some might argue that nothing happens before it’s time. However, in my lifetime I’ve seen way too little being achieved due to procrastinating people taking their precious time to get things done. A simple scenario would be those long agenda meetings where the secretary takes minutes after wasted hours of time, talk and trivialities.

We need to show up for work on time, complete tasks on time, pay attention to deadlines and expiration dates, plan ahead of time (admittedly, the latter might be a bit confusing), respect the clock for telling the right time and make the most of the time allotted to us. Time is money, people, so why would you want to lose money frivolously in these difficult times?

Nearly six months ago, a party of people that spent a great deal of time telling us that they have the right formula to take us forward was finally given the chance to prove their mettle. Before you know it, they will have about six months left in their five-year term to prove that they were worth our time and patience. Which brings to mind another adage: time flies.

From this moment on, let us all make a concerted effort to make every second count. Let us make every minute afford us sixty second chances at getting our priorities right. Let every hour find us coming up with creative and lucrative ideas that can shape our day in a positive, productive and progressive way.

I figured that I would have taken up enough of your time already, so I’ll just close with a quote from English real estate entrepreneur, William Penn (1644-1718), who wrote that, “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” Clearly, even in the 17th and 18th centuries time was being disrespected. If you asked me, it’s been too a long time that we have not found a cure for that bad habit.

It’s about time we changed that.

Stan Bishop began his career in journalism in March 2008 writing freelance for The VOICE newspaper for six weeks before being hired as a part-time journalist there when one of the company’s journalists was overseas on assignment.

Although he was initially told that the job would last only two weeks, he was able to demonstrate such high quality work that the company offered him a permanent job before that fortnight was over. Read full bio...


  1. Even my three year old thinks deeper than mate. That man always there pushing some drivel or the other. Hey man, read some philosophy, meditate and then engage your brain. Enough of your boring banalities. Learn to write.

  2. Stan, welcome to St,Lucia. Sadly, that’s the way it has been for decades. That’s one of the reasons why the expression “Caribbean Time” exists.

    “Customer Service” in many, not all, cases does not exist as it does in other jurisdictions off-shore.

    Unfortunately it seems to be a reality that has to be lived with. Unfortunately, this seems to be an unfortunate consequence of a prevalent sense of laziness, entitlement, complacency, lack of respect, and lack of drive.

    God Bless.

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