All the time.

One of the things that has really stuck out to me is the chapter in Sears and Cairns about time.  I think about time a lot, in particular the way our perception of time affects other aspects of society and the world around us.  Sears and Cairns are not wrong; time seems to be speeding up around us and it has profound implications in the way we interact with others.One example of this is fast food.  In theory, you get in, you order, you get out, you gobble down your food and you go on your merry way.  The problem comes when we start to generalize this concept of fast, cheap, and easy to every other aspect of our world.  I work in a retail pharmacy and I have noticed that people have a tendency to apply this concept to their healthcare.  The industry standard wait time to have a prescription filled is 15 to 20 minutes on average.  This covers the time it takes for a person to talk to you and review your file, type your prescription, have a pharmacist check that the typed information is correct, submit the prescription to your insurance, fill the prescription, check that the medication is correct, and counsel you on the medication.  When you spell it all out, it is a lot.  But, when people hear that the wait time is 15 to 20 minutes, they lose their minds.  “Why is it going to take so long? All you have to do is count a couple pills out of a bottle and label them!”  It takes this long to complete a prescription for a simple reason: if we don’t get it right, you could become more seriously ill or even die.So, if one’s personal health is at stake, why are patients so intent on this fast food type service?  I’m sure there are many reasons, but the most obvious one to me is that retail corporations are fostering the image of pharmacy as fast food in consumers.  Starting with the $4 dollar prescription “value meal” and ending with the convenient drive-thru service, corporations have realized that they can make an enormous amount of money just by being the fastest and along the way, quality is misplaced.

This is not only applicable to pharmacies, but also to hospitals.  A few months ago, I read an article talking about changes made in hospital operations based off changes made by the ObamaCare programs.  The main point of the article was that in the past, doctors were pressured to get people in and out fast in order to keep making money.  If there were complications due to rushing, that was fine, bring them back in and make more money off of another visit.  Now, insurance companies are trying to cut back on how many times a person visits a doctor, it is in their financial best interest to do things right the first time because they will not receive more money for subsequent visits.  So, hospitals have started forcing personnel to slow down and use check lists to make sure things are done right the first time.  Slowing down is not always a bad thing.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that what is the point in all this rush that people engage in?  All they are doing is rushing towards mistakes and time “wasted” fixing mistakes they made in that rush.

5 thoughts on “All the time.

  1. I absolutely agree, we’ve heightened our expectations to an irrational degree about the speed things should be conducted at, with no recognition of the possible consequences. Even with the public education system, we’ve started taking short-cuts. Teachers no longer open the classroom to discussion and interpretation of the material, instead they teach by the exam, and students are left with no better understanding of the subject than when they first arrived in the classroom. While failing a student might not always be ideal, sometimes it is best to hold the child back if they cannot meet the standards, instead we have begun to lower the standards so we can move them down the assembly line. We no longer value the education they are receiving, we only concern ourselves with the amount of time children are spending or “wasting” absorbing the public school resources.

  2. This is a good point and we often forget that time should not always be on fast forward. It shows the unrealistic expectation for everything to be perfectly timed so much so that we forget about our own health.

  3. Management of time, dealing with expectations made on me by integrating my schedule with that of others, is the primary source of stress in my life these days. For the most part, I actively choose to subject myself to these expectations. But for many people, those expectations are forced on them.

    I’m reading William Cronon’s “Nature’s Metropolis” for another class at the moment. He has a lot to say about clock-time and the way its effects were felt in the urbanization of the US. It makes me think about people who want to get away from such modern structure. Whether going away camping for a weekend or two and waking with the sun, or planning a ‘back to the land’ or ‘off the grid’ style of life, I think leaving the demands of the clock behind has a deep and widespread appeal.

    Cronon’s discussion of the spread of clock-time as part and parcel of modernization (as embodied in the spread of the transportation technology of the railroad) makes me think about a modern desire to escape clock-time. Framed that way, it seems like a conservative, even reactionary, desire. Reject the modern; embrace the simple and the traditional. I’d never really thought of of that longing for a life governed by natural timekeepers instead of mechanical ones as ‘conservative’ before, but I suppose it really is.

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