If you got up at 7:30 this morning, went out to get the paper and this is your first reminder that you should have changed the clocks before you went to bed last night, I have bad news for you.
You’re late for 8:30 church.
You can still catch most of the sermon — if you don’t mind a few “Well, I never ...” looks for showing up in fuzzy bedroom slippers. I figure God must have a pretty good sense of humor, so He would probably forgive your forgetfulness. Maybe that’s why it’s called daylight “saving” time. What’s an hour when you’re talking eternity?
Just in case, though, you might want to check the Mass times down at St. Teresa’s.
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I’m a firm believer that there are two types of people in the world. Timeless People, who, like myself, do not wear watches and do not think to check their cell phones. And Timekeepers, who spend a lot of their time telling people like me what time it is — in airports, libraries, at work and even in discount stores
“Excuse me,” I said to a little old lady I passed in the baking aisle at Schnucks. I was on a mission to get chopped pecans for cookies my wife was baking because I had eaten the pecans she thought were in the freezer. I was on a tight schedule.
“Do you know what time it is?”
“Yes, I do,” she said.
She glanced at me over the top of her glasses, then continued down the aisle.
With three little words, she had made her point. Probably a retired schoolteacher, I reckoned. It was her way of red-circling my question and writing in the imaginary margin: “Too vague. Interrogatory sentences should be more direct.”
A couple of steps later, I turned and asked, “What time is it?”
“One-seventeen,” she said. She didn’t turn around, but I could tell she was smiling by the way she said “one-seventeeeeen.”
It’s clear we Timeless People are starting to get on the Timekeepers’ nerves.
I know what they really want to say when we ask “What time is it?”
▪ “It’s time you bought a watch, cheapo.”
▪ “It’s time for us to go over your life insurance coverage and see if it is sufficient to allow your family to live in the manner they have become accustomed to ...” (Be careful whom you ask.)
▪ “Time for the three-thirty meeting.” (This is the standard answer I get from co-workers who know I don’t wear a watch. Sometimes I fall for it.)
I understand Timekeepers’ frustration. But Timeless People aren’t really so bad.
I blame my timelessness on my dad. When I was little, he kept a big pocket watch tied on a brown shoestring to the bib of his overalls. I would play hide-and-seek with it in all those overalls pockets. Sometimes, I’d fall asleep in his lap listening to it tick. (Or was that his heart?) And he would let me turn the knob to move the hands around. Years later, I saw him let all his grandkids play with it, too.
Once, when I was down the block bugging our neighbor, Orville, I asked him what time it was. I figured all men had pocket watches connected to brown shoestrings. He didn’t.
Orville pulled up a long sleeve, looked at his bare wrist and said, “It’s a hair past a freckle.”
Brilliant. That’s the perfect way to tell somebody you don’t wear a watch and don’t have a clue what time it is.
Sometimes, it makes more sense not to wear a watch. Timeless People always show up early. We’re compensating because we have a fear of being late. It’s the people who know what time it is who are always late. They think: “If I leave now, I’ll be too early.” So they wait till the last minute and, sure enough, they get stopped by a long freight train and they’re late again.
Many Timekeepers set their watches five minutes early, trying to fool themselves. That way, they’re only five minutes late when they take those 10 extra minutes.
Timekeepers with really expensive, fancy, complex watches can tell you what time it is in Tokyo and Greenwich in addition to Belleville. They can tell you how many calories there are in a Big Mac and time a 100-yard dash to the nearest nanosecond, but they might have a hard time telling which number the big hand is on.
And another thing ... oops, gotta go. It’s already a hair past a freckle.
And, you’re late for church.