No Time To Spare
Not long after arriving in Los Angeles I landed a job as a writer on a TV series.
The show was not good. OK, it was horrifically awful, maybe the worst show in the history of television. I’ll spare you the title to protect the guilty.
One of the few perks of that gig was spending a month or so in the office next to Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf, veteran writers with credits going back to Fred Allen, Jack Benny and the original “I Love Lucy.”
The two Bobs would often bicker like an old married couple. One argument involved a heated disagreement over the year 1950.
One of the Bobs (I forget which) insisted 1950 was “a long time ago.” The other Bob believed otherwise. This debate ended with the first Bob shouting, “Bob, 1950 was 37 years ago!” That seemed to settle it.
This conversation took place in 1987 yet remains as vivid as if it happened yesterday. But according to my calendar, 1987 was 29 years ago and that’s a long time ago!
I’m hardly the first to observe time seems to accelerate as we get older with the years flipping past like the digits on a gas pump. Everything I talk about was 20 years ago. I have even caught myself uttering the phrase “that was 50-years ago!”
How the hell old am I?
When I was a kid, like all kids, I was in a huge hurry.
I had a summer job at 19 on a crew cutting lawns and trimming hedges. I couldn’t wait for September so I could go back to drinking and goofing around with my college pals. “I wish it was Friday”, “I wish it was quitting time”, “I wish it was pay day”, all day, every day. Eventually Chick Dumas, a big bellied white haired giant of a man turned to me and said, “Kid, you’re wishing you life away.” True wisdom.
A study published last week by the Society of Personality and Social Psychology found when it comes to happiness, time is more valuable than money. I didn’t need a study to appreciate this truth. In fact, most of us work specifically so we can afford the luxury of time. If we only had enough money we’d have the time to do things we really want to do! Is it any wonder gridlock consistently tops the list of things we hate about L.A.?
In a world filled with annoyances both great and small, nothing curdles my corpuscles like having someone waste my time – which isn’t to say I don’t waste a ton of time, but at least I’m the one wasting it, not Time/Warner.
We talk about “spending” time with family or at the beach or at work or wherever doing whatever. Hence the cliché, “Time is money,” but unlike money, time can’t be squirreled away for a rainy day. Time goes as quickly as it comes.
I’m constantly shocked to discover the life experiences and memories I assume are universal are remote at best or utterly foreign to younger people. The other day I asked two 30-year-olds what they knew about PT-109. They just stared at me, the same blank stare I give them when they go off on the line up for Coachella. Anybody who’s ever said, “That was 50 years ago” has no business getting worked up about seeing “The Funk Hunters” in the desert anymore than a 30-year-old should be emotionally invested in a PT boat that sank 70 years ago.
Life is peppered with time-sucking chores like picking up the dry cleaning, standing in line at Home Depot or trying to coax the cat to come in at night. Our lives can’t be one long epiphany. Still, it’s easy to fritter away hours, days, years futzing with pedestrian nonsense or chasing someone else’s notion of success.
Time well spent. Hopefully you will feel that way after reading these words.
Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sundays. Hear him weekdays 5-10 on AM 790. He can be reached at: Doug@DougMcIntyre.com.