Thursday, 23 September 2010

Time in our times


In the mornings, going to work
, I board the bus while it waits at its terminus - lucky for me that this is near my house, since boarding a bus to central London anywhere else in the locality I probably wouldn't get a seat at rush hour. Departures are frequent, every five to eight minutes.

Today, while we sat on the bus waiting for it to leave the terminus, a woman came rushing up and shouted breathlessly to the driver: how long till you leave?  Three minutes, said the driver. The woman sighed heavily and and took off at a run for the next bus stop, where more buses also pass.  One minute later: another woman, same question - leaving in 2 minutes - and same response, off at a run - this one towing a suitcase!

To arrive at the next bus stop, it's fifty yards, a pedestrian crossing with lights at a big junction, then fifty yards again. If the lights are against you, the wait at the crossing is about three minutes. Even at a run, therefore, you may well not arrive at the next stop in time for this bus, never mind one ahead of it. So, this behaviour is nuts! What's it about, this need to keep rushing, rushing, even if it gets you there more slowly than standing still? Best to keep moving at all costs, I suppose - whatever you do, don't stop and have any time to think, or you might just notice you're nuts!

I'm not buying into this: nooo!  There is a price, though, for not buying it... in guilt, in alienation.

8 comments:

Rachel Fox said...

It's very different out here in the sticks. The first village we lived in had a bus service once every two hours (at peak time!) and none at all much of the time. I quite liked it after years of city craziness.
x

alan scott said...

Johnson has a great line about "getting on horseback on a ship" which seems to describe this behavior---this tendency---very well.

Jean said...

Rachel, that sounds most attractive.

Alan, lovely quote - thanks! I guess it's comforting to think that people have had this tendency at least since Johnson's time, even if our age offers unprecedented opportunities to indulge in it.

marja-leena said...

Fascinating observation. This makes me think of the London tube and the mad rushing crowds... quite overwhelming for someone from a comparatively small city. I think I'm a small city/town person at heart, maybe it's my Finnish blood.

Zhoen said...

I learned it with the trains in Boston, never run because they won't open the doors once closed, and another will be along in ten minutes.

Never run a red, let a car in, stop for a yellow light, it's good karma, and always worth it.

Lucy said...

I would have thought that three minutes entirely to oneself with the knowledge that one was on board and had done all that was required would be something to be cherished.

Yet it has sometimes seemed to me that Londoners are quite phlegmatic/passive about the vagaries of the tube, for example...

liliannattel said...

Many years ago a supervisor I had at work used to say to me, "I'm going slow because I'm in a hurry." That's stuck with me.

Sky said...

i think you are on to something about people not slowing down. time may afford some people too much information about their feelings. better to stay busy and in denial.