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In the nick of time

By Rhona Canoy

SO… How many times must I come back to this subject? I suppose for as long as it serves to peeve me to no end. I’m talking about punctuality. Punk-choo-AL-itee. The habit of being on time. Something Filipinos seem to need to have genetically changed. Because I can’t figure out why the concept seems so impossible.

Having had to spend the last few weeks chasing after appointments withh different agencies and persona, my frustration level is quite high. After all, we do plan our days based on pockets of time which we allocate to certain activities, which is a domino chain affected by the first faulty appointment. No matter what we do–and there are tons of factors which will affect this–the next thing will always depend on the previous thing. And messing up the first thing will ensure that one’s day is messed up.

I came across this quote from the famous Anonymous: “We kill time. We rob or get robbed of time. We find time. We lose time. We make time. No matter what we do with time, no one person has the power to stop it or slow it down.” Really. And to make even more emphasis, time is really all we have. So punctuality acquires even more importance in the end. We treat time as our own personal convenience. And yet it is the one thing that we all must share and function under, with equal conditions. There will always be 24 hours in a day. And there will always be 60 minutes in an hour. Nothing will change that. And each minute is precious to each one of us.

And yet… and yet. We find some amusing kind of pride in owning Filipino Time. Which simply means that we don’t let our watches and clocks natter. Which simply means we never show up on time. Which simply means that, at the end of the day, we’re a very disrespectful people. That’s right. Disrespectful. We don’t hesitate to take those extra thirty minutes to be late for where we need to be. Because we don’t realize that we’re taking thirty minutes away from someone who’s waiting, who could be spending those thirty minutes in another way. Now, if both parties could agree to be thirty minutes late, then no time is taken or taken away.

Then would it be possible to just set the appointment for thirty minutes later? Not gonna happen. Because then everybody will be another thirty minutes late or later. We should just rename our times then. Ten o’clock reads 10:30 on our watches and clocks. But that only makes us stupid people, doesn’t it? So just why is being on time so difficult? We’re all busy with things. No one is more busy than the other. And everyone’s time is equally important. That’s why I prefer the suffix “-ish” because it’s hones. Elevenish. Threeish. Whateverish. It means I’m going to get there around that time. Could be before, but most probably after.

We’re really disrespectful. We don’t even bother to inform the other person or persons that we’re going to be late. With all the technology at our fingertips, to just send a simple text to say “Running late. Be there in 30mins.” At least so that the other party has the time to do something for those 30 minutes that you haven’t yet arrived. Instead of sitting there looking at their watch every five minutes or so.

“The person who arrives late thinks his time is more important than the one who has to wait.” Another gorgeous zinger. And difficult to disagree with. That we can afford to think that another person is spending time waiting for our bodies to make an entrance, and that it’s okay, is arrogance at its finest. And arrogant people are usually disrespectful. Since when did we become a nation of people who demand consideration but refuse to give it? For that’s what it’s all about.

“Time waits for no one.” It surely doesn’t. And time past is time that can never be relived. So think how valuable this commodity is. More than all the diamonds and gold in the world. We should regard it with all the consideration that it deserves. And understand that time IS the priority. Not the thing we are spending it on. Ladies, if your most favorite hairstylist in the world tells you that you have to be at the salon at 9 a.m. or you won’t get another appointment till next month, I’m sure you would be there at 8:30. Gentlemen, if your favorite bar tells you that your favorite alcohol will be served with a 50% discount only from 10 until 10:30 p.m., your thirsty butts will be there by 9:55 p.m. at the latest. Guaranteed.

We need to get our priorities straight. We’re all going to run out of time, sometime. We’re all going to croak. Kick the proverbial bucket. Time really is all we have. Let’s be generous with it, and let’s be respectful of each other’s time. Don’t spend the last second of your time wishing for more.

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About Rhona Canoy

Rhona Canoy

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