Monday 21 February 2011

Adults and estimation of time

It all starts when one has kids. Well, you don't have to have your own kids, cousins, aunt's kids will also serve the purpose. Ever noticed that while walking with kids, they tend to ask: "How much more should we walk?" And pat comes the kind reply: "We will be there in a minute" or "We've almost reached." Now whenever the poor child asks the question, we tend to give the same reply. The innocent kid who always trusts, nods sadly. Adults don't intentionally lie but pacify the kid assuring him/her that the distance is not too much. Legitimate.

Now what is a bit puzzling is that even with adults, some people resort to the same behaviour. Take for example, returning calls. If someone tell that she/he will call in ten minutes, nine out of ten will never call in ten minutes. If one calls back and politely demands why the call wasn't returned, the answer one gets is something like this: "I said ten minutes. You are very impatient. Don't act like a child." But it is past twenty minutes. How do we account for this estimation of time at the other end?

More than being callous, some individuals give an estimated time that crosses their mind at that precise time. They don't ever think beyond that particular situation. Similarly, the numbers two and five are very popular with people. The expression, "Give me five minutes" or "Give me two seconds" is quite common. If you haven't noticed this, please do so. You will be surprised at the number who use the numbers mentioned above, of course without sticking to the specified number in time. Five minutes will always be twenty and two seconds will always be five minutes. So much so.

Time is relative. Agreed. But when it comes to others' time, it is precious. One cannot take unsolicited liberties with other people's time. While giving a time limit, it is better we try to stay with it.

So, what's your take on estimating time.

Image: Internet


  1. OH don't even get me started on TIME! I just don't get it when people say they will call back in 5 and then do not or when they say they will be ready at a certain time and are not.
    My time is as precious as theirs. To me when someone does not value the other person's time then it shows disrespect towards the other being.
    This requires a whole post!

  2. I am reminded of this line from "Lord of the Rings."

    "A Wizard, dear Frodo, is never late. He arrives precisely when he means to..."

    Time is one of those things we all spend as if it is limitless, while knowing full well that it is not.

    I think it is the human coping mechanism in action. Pretend like time does not matter, when in fact it matters more than anything.

    Some people just go to far in the pretense.

  3. As always, perfect post dear Susan.
    I can relate to this as I become very irritated when people keep me waiting.
    Not showing up on time and being late or as you say, not returning calls - all this feels very disrespectful I feel. I myself at all times try to be punctual and if I can not make it, I always let people know. I think that a lot of people have a totally twisted perception of time. I have had friends that genuinely believed they would manage to do something in 5 minutes that in reality would take 30.;)
    Have a lovely day dear Susan,

  4. reminds me of talks with my bride, a couple of beers does not mean two .. so there, cheers alan

  5. so yes I'm totally with you on this. I expect 5, 10, 20 minutes to mean just that! I don't want to waste my day waiting.

    Cheers A

  6. Can remember several incidents where a person came very late or not at all without letting me know. My response I started calling and kept on calling for as long as it took, called their parents or friends, to get that person on the line. Not to vent their disrespect to me but to make sure that they were allright, had no accident or whatever. Each time they were very surprised by my action and explanation. Most of them learned their lesson right away because they knew they would be hunted down.

  7. Oh, I've heard the 2 min, 5 min, 10 min story too that would stretch for what seems like ages / never happen at all! Some people make it such a habit that when they say 2 minutes, you won't trust them even if they really mean it! Wish they would learn to value time, sooner of later!

  8. Oh man! seriously! This is the perfect post for me to read today! I have been waiting for my result to arrive for more than a month now..and it was supposed to be out on the 15 of February and every day they tell us it'll be tomorrow..and I just want to say to them, quit lying and put us out of our misery by giving us a definite date already! I wish people wud quit lying about time and simply tell people, " I shall call you in fifty five minutes. " or " It's a twelve kilometer walk away " or " Your result will show up on the 28th of February " :D

  9. ok i am guilty...ugh...and yes it urks me...i will endeavor to do better...smiles.

  10. Here is Africa we have a phrase "Africa Time", which is supposed to imply that unlike the westerners, we are not supposed to take time seriously. It is therefore quite common to see people arrive for meetings/appointments an hour late and act as if nothing has happened. While I am a bit patient when it comes to the social side of life, I can never understand why in a professional setting someone should take another persons' time for granted. If you say you will call me in 10 minutes, I expect you to call me in 10 minutes or at least let me know you are running late in whatever you were to get back to me about. I must however confess that I am no saint either and this post has given me an opportunity to reflect on my own habits. Kudos!

  11. Excellent point. I hate it when I feel someone else is in control of my time. We all goof up sometimes, but the least we can do is acknowledge it instead of getting irritated with the person holding us to our word.

  12. Savira:

    In India, esp the scenario is much worse, I reckon.


    What a lovely quote that was! I have never watched any part of LOTR. Should do so some day. Time definitely matters for each of us.

  13. Zuzana:

    I wish people were more considerate and respectful.


    Ha Ha. Alan, oh! Alan.

  14. AJ:

    SO very AG, this was.


    I thought this was a predominant problem to India. Surprised to know that this exists in othe rplaces as well.

  15. RGB:

    Glad that you can relate to this one.


    Results are always so all over the world. Animate or inanimate, the waiting is excruciating.

  16. Brian:

    Really? You better buck up :)


    It so happens that time is always the issue with many many people. If one can manage time effectively, I guess many other things fall into place. We can know a person by the way they keep time. Maybe . . .

  17. I have a very strong opinion on this one - i cu shoot people who bluff with time estimation - i hate it - absolutely hate it when 1 second means couple of minutes, when an hour means a couple of hours - immediately means in a couple of days etc etc - i just don't have the patience to deal with this kind of dishonor to time!

  18. Susan

    I am reminded of the life in Italy or Provence where time has its own meaning, "_Normalement--__providing that the truck doesn't break down or whatever.

    The delightful story 'A year In Provence" written by Englishman Peter Mayle who learns the difference in time through some very amusing but totally exasperating situations encountered with the French.

    Yes I agree it is rather annoying, cell phones you & text msg you think would helps , but I think only those who were already predisposed to being mindful of time and running late for good reasons will think to contact the other party. Some folks also try and do to many task & forget time, so many reasons, but what you describe just seems like people working off of autopilot and not aware of their behavior?

    Warm wishes from Pacific North West.


  19. Yuvika:

    Glad that you have a strong and not weak opinion, Yuv. It happens quite frequently everywhere that it has almost become to norm.


    Whenever you visit, I'm sure to learn something from ye. Autopilot mode are the words that are so very appropriate for this kind of behaviour.
    Joy always, Joanny :)

  20. That is sooooooooooooooooooo true lol. I think when im walking with my little cousin though im gonna try something different like " we'll know the park is close by when we see the pizza store" or something like that hahas i think im patient unless i want answers

  21. I am a stickler about own and others, but I do say things like, "I'll talk with you later." at the end of a phone call with no idea what "later" means...and sometimes, it is days ;)

  22. Oh how I hate to be given a time and have the other person not really mean it...I normally make them translate that 'two minutes' in to an actual time...usually makes them think twice before they commit.

  23. Guilty as charged, I'm always saying I'll be there in a sec, give me a minute and really it never is just a second or a minute. My son however will stand and count me out just to make sure I stick to it. He gets me on the second but I can just about jump to the minute :)

  24. Thomas:

    Thanks for coming by and welcome to the meanderings. Children enable so many thoughts to spout out of our minds. Thanks for your comment and follow. It is highly appreciated.


    You are wise enough not to give those lame time frames.

  25. Corrine:

    You are my kindred soul. Great. Does Maggi ever cook in two minutes? Not always, I reckon.


    Your son is your father, as Wordsworth says. He rocks!!!

  26. I can't speak for the westerners here who I've always associated with punctuality and time-consciousness. But for a collectivist society such as the Philippines, we have a more free-flowing concept of time - that it never ends and therefore an infinite resource.

    Specific chunks of time are strictly significant to us. Hence we have what we call Filipino time - meaning we're always late for appointments. Mainly because we are wired to think of time as an immeasureable entity; as such, 10 minutes and an hour are not seen as terribly different. Haha!

  27. Age:

    Even we have our own version of Indian Standard Time which is late , late and late. I find that quite annoying. Esp VIPs always arrive late. Looks like this is an Asian streak :) Ha Ha!

  28. All I know is that when I was a kid it took forever and a day for Christmas to come around. Now it seems to be here about every two weeks.



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