Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Feeding Fiber to Primates

My watch has a second hand. That's why I can tell you the exact length of people's patience. 11 seconds. Do me a favour, if you are reading this within sight of a second hand, just stop and let it count down ten plus one seconds. OK ... I'll wait ....

(me humming 'over the rainbow')

Now, that really isn't very long is it. But it is the exact, I mean Xact amount of time that people can tolerate someone's needs. One second more, that would be a dozen seconds, and people go, almost literally, apeshit. There is no other, no delicate way of saying it, they go apeshit. Not externally, of course, but internally. Teeth grind, faces go sour, hair becomes brittle, voices clipped - it's a sight.

And, after three years in a wheelchair. I don't care.

I don't.

It's about facing forward.

You see when I first became a wheelchair user, I would wheel myself straight into an elevator. Then, I'd wheel out backwards. It saved time. And lots of it. Way, way, more than seven plus four seconds. But I always hated it. Everyone else facing forwards, me facing the back wall. But it seemed little cost and, while it bothered me only a little at first, it began to bother me more and more over time. Now, it irks me. Yes, I said it, it Irks me. So I practiced and practiced and practiced some more. Now it takes me 12 seconds to turn the chair and back in. For those not skilled at math that's one second more than people have time for.

Today I tasted garlic in the sigh of a man rushing to be somewhere. He was annoyed to the point that he wanted me to know that I had held him up, me and my crippled body, had slowed him down. Him a man on the move, me the social obstacle to his happiness. His displeasure rippled through the air. His need to control time and the movements of others, had him almost crawling over me to get out of the elevator. All for one moment more than five plus six seconds.

Maybe I'm selfish, wanting to face forward, not ass backwards.

Maybe I am.

But I've noticed that taking those few seconds more hasn't ever made me late for a bus, late for a movie, late for a meeting. But they've made me happier.

I like facing frontward.

I like looking towards tomorrow.

I have come to appreciate, all over again, the wonder of having a second more to spend.

And I vow to spend it wisely.

Looking forward.


theknapper said...


Belinda said...

I'm laughing at the common theme of our morning's posts. Yes, those "seconds," it's all about time, toe tapping time. How did we get so rushed, so impatient? And I count myself among the rushed in different situations. I know that I can be far too "poised for action," adrenaline flowing; intense in the moment instead of relaxed.

When you bring it down to your right to respect, how awful rushing for the sake of 11 seconds is. I can't imagine the indignity of facing the back of an elevator. Yes, keep feeding the primates! I'd be tempted to buy a whoopie cushion to liven things up in the elevator if they don't behave. :)

Anonymous said...

The wheeliecrone says -
Dave, I am absolutely with you on this. I do not wish to be the only one staring at the wall. I, too, reverse into elevators.
And then, some bright spark will comment on my driving. As if I were 6 years old. Dave, I am 73 years old - I do not require positive reinforcement for the ability to steer a motorised wheelchair. I just smile and say, "I get a lot of practice - all day long, every day." That usually ends the conversation.

Anonymous said...

If you don't take the time to value yourself.....others will find it hard to take time to value you either.

I had an experience last week that I realized I mold and bend far too easliy. Most of the time it is because I don't get upset by or notice many things including my own feelings. I have come to the decision that is ok...if I come first and the collective you doesn't. It has been an interesting experiment with my family.

Princeton Posse said...

I agreee with Belinda, but how about a remote control fart machine. My friend has lots of fun in elevators with his!!!

Brio Integrative Health Centre said...

If you don't care about time to yourself,others will get it hard to take time for you also.

Andrea S. said...

I don't have a second hand. I have a digital watch that tells me the time down to the precise second (except that I keep it 2 or 3 minutes fast, so, not so precise!). Does this count? :-)

Yes, 11 seconds isn't that long ...

Anonymous said...

Here's to facing forwards!
Here's to a future where people have time for important things, like each other.

Belinda said...

Princeton Posse--Remote control?? Wow--perfect! :)

Noisyworld said...

The length of time certain drivers will wait in a queue is very similar to the ignorati in the lift.
I always find it very amusing when a car zooms past us only to get held up a traffic lights and get nowhere fast.
I hope one day the sighers drop something whilst getting into a lift and are on the receiving end, I'd like to think it'd teach them a lesson...but I doubt it :(

Susan said...

Belinda, that whoopie cushion gives me an idea! Dave, just eat beans for lunch. Then you can leave the elevator (now that you're facing frontwards) by jet propulsion. THAT might teach those apes a thing or two... :)

Tamara said...

I would hate facing backwards in the elevator ... Maybe you need some more cards to hand out ... it could say - it takes me exactly 11 seconds to back into an elevator. Can you believe you got as uptight as you did over 11 seconds? I'm thinking you might need valium.

CJ said...

Wonderful post!

Keep on facing forward.

Shan said...

No kidding. The new chip Interac cards are hilarious - people DO grind their teeth and shift from foot to foot and tap their fingers and whatnot, and the reality is the old cards took about 4 seconds to approve, and the new cards take about 10 seconds to approve.

Really, people? Really? You don't have six extra seconds? In the twenty four hours that tick by every day, you don't have six seconds? In all the 30-second commercials you watch every single day - adding up to about 18 minutes for every hour, with the result that your one-hour show actually takes 42 minutes - those six extra seconds feel like a waste of time?