My father always told me that it’s better to be 30 minutes early than 1 minute late, so I’ve spent a significant portion of my life waiting.
Apparently, I am not alone in this – in 2012 the New York Times reported that Americans spend roughly 37 billion hours each year waiting in line.
It’s somewhat unclear, but I assume that estimate doesn’t include time waiting not in line – waiting for your child’s soccer game to finish, waiting for the meeting before yours to finish, waiting for a building to open, or waiting for the bus (which may or may not be in a line).
The Times argues that the “drudgery of unoccupied time” leads to complaints about waiting. Moving baggage carousels further from a gate, for example, reduced complaints since passengers had more occupied time walking to the carousel and less unoccupied time waiting at the carousel.
In some ways this makes sense, but in other ways I find it baffling.
Unoccupied time? What does that even mean?
Don’t get me wrong, I can get impatient with the best of them. About 4 and half hours into the flight to California I am about ready to jump out the window to get off of the plane. I get anxious when I’m running late and unfocused when I’m waiting for news.
But just waiting in general?
I don’t know. Isn’t that…kind of what life is? Finding ways to occupy unoccupied time?
Maybe I’ve just read Waiting for Godot too many times.
My father, after all, also taught me that when you arrive somewhere 30 minutes before you have anything to do there, it’s wise to bring a good book. Add snacks and water to that list and I’m good to go.
And if it’s too dark to read, that’s no big drama. After all, there’s always something interesting to think about.