bunt sign

March 6, 2000

You'd think that for a person who put in a day's work Sunday, Monday wouldn't be such a Monday. But you'd be wrong.

No use going on and on about all the terrible things that turned this into such a dreadful day. The highlights would include standing in lines at the post office, Office Depot and Best Buy for longer than necessary on my errand run this morning. Legal papers served on a contract dispute. A notice from the IRS that it's okay for the Company to change our accounting method as we requested, if we jump through all their hoops within their time frame. Plus the usual, phones ringing at just the wrong time and the like.

All in all, the Monday of all Mondays. Just like every other Monday.

You get a different perspective on clock-watching when you work at home. When I was an office drone, I would check my watch (so that no one would see me craning my neck to look at the clock on the wall). I would check more and more frequently as it got closer to quitting time. Some days I would actually do some work just to make the time pass more quickly.

Even though I liked school, I was a clock watcher there, too. It wasn't so much that I was waiting for the hour to end. It was more that I wanted to know how far along in the hour we were. Minute hand straight down, halfway through. Ten minutes to go means to start wrapping up whatever I'm working on, or listen for the signal that the lecture is winding down. It's a form of control, I think, to have a clear idea of where in time's spectrum I'm standing.

It's also an analog thing. I grew up in the pre-digital era, and to me an hour is the minute hand sweeping once around the clock face. It's an ever-changing pie chart, a graphic representation of the passing of the minutes. It's quarter to three, there's no one in the place except you and me, means something different from At the tone the time will be 2:45, exactly. You lose a little perspective when time becomes a matter of numerals in a display, because it goes by a second or a minute at a time. The sweep second hand is a beautiful thing.

In my current situation, there is no quitting time. I'm already home. Most often, I don't even want to know what time it is. If I look up and see it's noon I might be tempted to do something that's bad for my diet. If I see it's two, I might want to check in on General Hospital and see if Luke and Laura are back together yet. If it's three, I'll wish it was four. Better not to know the time than to have the time control you.

On most days I just keep working, not even thinking of looking at the clock. Today I glanced up and saw that it was six thirty, and I was crushed. I had worked away the whole day, plus a couple of hours that I could have used for my own purposes. I hate when that happens.

I'm sorry, I just have to say that if the woman behind the copy center counter at Office Depot had known that her customer was going to need twenty minutes to buy business cards, and if she had seen me standing in line and wavering back and forth with that dazed expression and slack jaw, then she should (and I'm not telling her how to do her job) have let me know (yes I am), instead of making me wait there all that time, thinking that she must be almost ready to handle my ten lousy color copies. She probably couldn't believe I would wait that long, and frankly neither could I.

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