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Wasting time

Posted: May 16, 2014 10:58 a.m.
Updated: May 19, 2014 5:00 a.m.

What one person considers wasting time, another believes to be necessary. I grew up in a time when what your parents said was law and employers set the rules. No one dared to defy authority. Nevertheless, I often did mandatory chores that I considered, and still consider, to be a waste of time.

The first inane chore had to do with ironing. My mother insisted that every wash cloth, towel, sheet and starched pillowcase had to be ironed, a chore that fell to me. Naturally, all clothing had to be washed, starched, sprinkled and ironed, but that chore came later when I was more proficient. No wonder my mother’s ironing stack was always a high one. (I used this fact to hide what happened to my satin underpants when I ironed them with a hot iron, simply placing the ruined finery on the bottom of the pile for months.) No matter how long she worked, the next day more clothes came to be done as well as her other chores. When I hurried with my odious task, she checked the results and, when she could find nothing wrong with the work, remarked, “Jack of all trades and master of none.” Even today, I am careful to do my work quickly and well. Repeating a hated task is worse.

School meetings, mostly, were a waste of time. When teachers had to go to hear chastisement for being late or failing to fulfill their duties, I complained. I truthfully said I had never been late -- true, and had not even used the small number of days given to all. Evidently, even back then, simply making the guilty parties attend the meetings would have been “profiling,” although I never heard the term. Everyone had to attend.

On occasion, I would have to teach two or three classes at the same time because some teachers found other more entertaining activities than teaching their classes and substitutes were unavailable. These individuals just came to school and feigned sickness to go home. Leaving meant that they were not counted as taking a “sick day.” I even remember a government official, probably making several times my salary, having teachers come to a meeting on three unpaid occasions, appearing only once and then reading the assigned booklet to them! The teachers were told they would receive either payment or excused time. I got neither, although this happened many years ago.

Meeting with parents can be a waste of time. When one mother came to say her son had not missed the number of days, I went to my PTA (protect they assets) drawer and pulled out the signed excuses. If I expected her to go home to where the culprit was waiting, I was in for a surprise. She looked at the signatures and remarked, “Don’t you check the signature (for forgery)?” I drew in my breath and, from somewhere, found the right answer: “Oh, no, ma’am, I never thought your son would be dishonest with you or with me.”

Thankfully, I did not say what I thought.

Another parent came and told me he wanted me to let him know if his son ever became bored! Teenagers would never allow their teachers to see boredom. In fact, they can look you straight in the eye as they daydream. Almost all of my parents did their jobs at home so I could do mine at school. Certainly, they did not demand daily progress reports for seniors.

I am sure wasting time will always be a part of life, but I know I shall not willingly be a part of it. I have, as a matter of fact, learned to do several things at once. Whatever bores me, I do when I have to, especially when it is a waste of time.


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