The Annoyance of Time


Tom was an impatient man, and he had had a time wasting morning. He was fuming inside, letting the seconds and minutes and half hours and hours burn his mind. His fingers tapped, his feet twitched, his eyes searched for an out, but, for Tom, time was not on his side.

It took forever, in Tom’s estimation, to leave the floor of his building. The sole elevator creaked by, stopping at every other floor. He watched the display with every new light passing by, and sighed deeply every time the floor display stopped. Then the elevator passed him by, a head appearing in the small round window of his floors’ door, and Tom cursed the person and the elevator as they went past,  continuing up, stopping two flights away. Time passed as he heard metallic workings of the door sliding open, the heavy “click click click” of heels walking out, and then the “ping ping” of the door getting ready to close again.  Tom heard it engage and the metal box slid down the coils, colliding in a brief bump that added that much more time in friction.

Entering, he immediately pressed the “door close” button, which did anything but. The Otis conveyance stopped two flights down, and two more flights down after that, and neither time no one was there. “Kids!” he muttered, jamming the “door close” button each time, getting the same no result as he had when he first entered.

Leaving the building, he encountered three people in the lobby who nodded to him as he walked by, two who did say “Hello” and one who tried to stop him for a conversation, but was blown off with a quick “Sorry…doctor’s appointment.”  He hit the cold air at a walk-trot, not feeling the cold as much as the wasted time. He got to and in his car, zipped the seat belt, started it up, and out of his spot he went…

…almost hitting Vinnie and his ancient blue Oldsmobile, who, in Tom’s opinion, should have stopped driving years ago. Tom jammed on his brakes, just missing ramming into the two old time wasters. Vinnie didn’t seem to notice as he tooled into the parking lot at-what seemed like to Tom-negative twenty miles an hour.

The rest of Tom’s day was no better. His 9:15 a.m. Doctor appointment turned into being seen at 11:49, with the consultation winding up to be eight minutes to tell him nothing could be done unless the pain in his knee got more serious (which he paid $20.00 in copay and over $4.00 in parking fees). Every driver in front of him drove at 20 mph, except for the one person who kept edging out to the red traffic light and took off just before the light actually changed, and Tom secretly envied for that verve.

Getting on line for lunch was an ordeal, as the two people ahead of him ordered food for their entire office…and then cut in line for things they “forgot.”

On and on, Tom’s day was a manifesto of wasted time, and each second added to the bile roiling inside of him. By the time he went to bed he had consumed enough stomach churning aids for four people. Tossing and turning, his mind racing along, he put his top pillow over his head and screamed into it.

“Are you done?” Muffled by the pillow, Tom thought it was the neighbor’s TV on high again.

“I said, TOM…are you done?”

Picking up the pillow, Tom saw a woman. In his bedroom, sitting in his computer desk chair, legs crossed and leaning back.  She was…white. Hair, face, dress, boots, nails…eyes. White eyes, and she stared at him, with her white lips in a large smile, and her white teeth gleamed. She held a large watch on a chain, which was also all white, and it led from a pocket fold by her hip. Tom noticed there were clocks of various shapes and sizes around her on his computer desk (not registering, at first, that there was no computer there at the moment).

Tom sat up, and was about to ask the obvious questions, but she continued.

“I’m an aspect of Time, Tom, something you hold near and dear to your little heart. You’ve been calling out to us…me…all of this day. Well, for more than this, but…here I am. Your suffering was more than we could take for ourselves…really, it’s been giving a few of us a big headache, and time release pills can only work so well when you can’t release them properly. Quite the conundrum! So…here we are.”

She leaned over and closed Tom’s hanging open mouth. “Really…not very attractive, Tom. I’m here to give you what you want: you do want Time to move faster for things, no waiting, chop chop, rush rush, get to it. No more waiting lines, long traffic lights, interminable “please holds”, blah blah blah…you want things to go quick in Tom land, isn’t that right?”

He nodded his head, liking the sound of a life like that, nothing to be annoyed about, moving things along at the proper speed.

“Are you sure? I’m this aspect of time. You could have things move slower, or go in reverse, or meet Father Time, but, really, he’s no fun at all.” She looked at him, her white eyes staring into his.

Tom said: “If you’re not just a very pleasant dream, then yes…yes, I want Time to speed up as it can, get rid of the waiting, get rid of the dead time I have on my hands…make each moment I live count. Yes. I want this.”

The aspect of Time leaned back, looked at the time piece in her hand and turned the stem, causing the gears to move which caused the watch face hands to rotate, which caused a soft chiming from around her from all the clocks.

“Done.” With that, she was gone, Tom’s computer was back where it had been, and Tom was again sitting open mouthed.

Shaking his head, he got up to get a drink of water. The next thing he knew, he was in the kitchen, finishing off a glass. He no sooner put it down and he found himself in bed, smiling. “Well, I’m going to…” and he was asleep, only to be waking up with the buzzer of his alarm. His entire morning was like this. He didn’t have to wait for the hot water: it was hot when he needed it. No waiting for his breakfast and coffee. That waiting time was gone too. Tom was impressed.

Every annoyance of waiting for Tom was gone. Elevator, drive, drivel talk, getting to and from meetings, waiting for meals. Gone. Instant bliss. His twenty-four hour day was shortened incredibly, and when he finally found himself in bed that night, he thought “This is bliss.”

Then he was up and things moved faster for him. No obstructions. None. Everything moved. Everything was time efficient. Every single day, and he began to realize he had no down time, no time to relax for anything. Everything was to the point, no transitional time, and he went from one meeting to the next with no time to think, no time to process, and all the midpoints and long views were cut out of his life. The days ran into weeks, and weeks-months-years pulled into pockets of rushed up space and he wasn’t annoyed with time being wasted but he was beginning to realize he was being devastated and wasted by time.

Tom aged, pretty fast to him, but it was only the passing of time.  Life’s moments passed him by. A massive heart attack took him, and it happened many years later in real time but in Tom’s world it was only months since the aspect of Time sprang upon him.

Death was one last thing he did not have to wait in line for.


18 responses »

  1. As you rush to whatever, you miss the now. The Japanese believe in only the now, this moment is all that exists. We may make our plans, but we waste the now if spend time worrying over the plans.( I’ve been watching Shogun this week, hence the Japanese lesson)You presented it very poignently(sp?), and I liked it.


    • Hmmm…I’ve heard that complai…compliment before about Twilight Zone-ish, and I do thank you kindly, sirrah. I used to watch the show with my Dad and cousins (when they were around), and marathons on New Years. Thanks Allan.


  2. A nicely written piece and a good reminder of how precious time is. I enjoyed the time I spent reading it when I could have been more productive. 🙂 It added some spice and flavor to my life.
    Another great short story and a thought-provoking theme. All we have is now.


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