The Time Managers

clockI arrived at Philadelphia International Airport in the late afternoon. I had just stepped off of an airplane, and I was elated for that and other reasons. I was about to have a cheesesteak and see my family.

And, most importantly, I was looking ahead at an entire month of being home.

As I approached my parents in the arrivals lounge, I knew that how much time I had at home was going to be mentioned by my dad within a minute of greeting me.

Me: “Hey!”

Mom: “How was your flight?”

Me: “It’s over. That’s all that matters.”

All of us laughed nervously.

Dad: “Mom will order the cheesesteaks on the way home.”

Angels sang from Heaven.  

Dad: “OK, I’ll say it. You have more than four weeks before you go back.”

My dad and I laughed, my mother rolled her eyes.

I knew he would say this, because, aside from reading and watching baseball, my dad’s favorite pastimes are keeping track of how much time is between now and some activity in the future, and casually dropping the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, or his hatred of Donald Trump into any conversation, despite the topic.

In terms of obsessive time management, my dad is the tree and I am the apple that did not fall very far from it. It’s sort of an inherited obsession. Imagine an old man handing his proud son a cherished pocket watch. Now imagine them obsessing on what time they’ll go for dinner at J.B. Dawson’s.

And we do. Once my dad has set the H-hour for an event (i.e. 4:30 dinner), he then spends the rest of the day confirming, tweaking, and factoring in variables and possible stops on the way (i.e. deposit money in the bank, get gas). He will then adjust the time. His fellow diners receive text message confirmation updates (4:30 at J.B Dawson’s right?) or verbal reminders in the midst of unrelated conversations:

“Hey Dad, see that game?”

“Will you be ready to leave at 4:30?”

“Yeah. And I’m gay.”

“I might want to leave a little earlier, I need to get gas.”

“I murdered and dismembered a hooker last night and hung her torso in the mud room.”

“I’ll pull the car around at 4:26.”

(PS: the above is a non-exaggerated conversation)

And I am roughly the same. I know that it takes 7 minutes to walk to my tram stop, 6.2 if I skip every other step on the way down. It takes 12.4 minutes to walk to my metro stop. My morning commute – door to door – used to take 45 minutes on the button (A thing which gave me great comfort), but now that I no longer take lifts it’s been bumped up to 47.6 minutes. I know that my kettle takes 2.3 minutes to boil, that I have time to shower and Gold Bond while I cook meatloaf and still have 8 minutes to steam broccoli afterwards. I specifically time the three rounds of my workout for 7 minutes 30 seconds, 7 minutes, 6 minutes. It’s enormous pleasure when it works like that. And I know how long each activity in a classroom will take, almost to the second.

But my dad and my favorite time-related activity when I visit is talking about how much longer I have until I go back. The best one of these conversations is the one (above) which occurs at the airport, since it is the longest period of time I will have before going back to Prague.

Still, we have the same conversation throughout the entirety of my visit home, the only difference being the length of time mentioned, the progressively glumness surrounding the observation, and the continual decline in the language used.

“So, you have four weeks left to relax and enjoy!” he exclaimed.

“Three weeks is a great amount of time to have left on vacation,” he observed.

“You still have two weeks left, that’s like an entire American vacation,” he reasoned.

“A whole week left. I think you’re looking forward to getting back. It’ll be nice to get back to your routine,” he rationalized.

“Listen. Two days is still two days. It’s a whole weekend, so enjoy those two days,” he suggested.

“Have a safe flight. Hey, only three months until you are back for Christmas!” he reassured us all.

  1. #1 by Angela galeone on September 13, 2016 - 12:09 pm

    Love this, Dame!!!!

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