Time is Not on My Side

You know that rabbit – the one in Alice in Wonderland who runs around shouting “I’m late. I’m late.” That seems to be the story of my life. My Dad was a time freak, although I don’t remember him chasing around frantically like I do. But cross him with his time and he didn’t like it. What did I expect. Dad worked as a timekeeper for the CN (then CNR) for over 45 years. I guess it spilled over into his personal life. He would sit at the kitchen table at dinner time and commiserate with his watch. He’d look up at the wall clock, then back down to his watch and reset it.

“Have to take it in to Riry Birks to get it regulated,” he would say.

But he reached his “prime time” when the three of us went on  our summer holidays. Thanks to Dad’s job we got free rides on the passenger trains. Dad had the pre-boarding procedure down pat – right from when we left home. As I write in You Can Go Home, my memoir-in-the works:

On the way to Union Station, Dad sits in the front seat of the taxi, the better to play navigator. Mom and I, with my doll Darlene, sit in the back.

“The best way to get to Union Station,” Dad says, looking down at his watch, “is to take Broadview down to Eastern Avenue, then take Eastern Avenue to Front Street.” He scowls over at the driver. “We don’t want to miss our train.”

Not likely. Unless we get stuck in traffic on this pre-Don Valley Parkway day in the late 1950s, we will arrive an hour and a half early at Union Station.

The driver makes a right turn and Dad jumps into attack mode.

“I said to take Broadview to Eastern. We’re on Gerrard St. now. Turn left at Parliament and go down Parliament to Front Street.” Dad removes his watch and is practically shaking it at the driver.

Excerpted from You Can Go Home. Copyright 2009 Sharon Crawford.

Once we entered Union Station, Dad hit his stride.

Then we are speeding down the corridor ramp connecting the main concourse with the departure waiting area. A long line-up winds around from the second track. Dad straightens up his 5’3” stature, puts a stern look on his face and creates a gap between a mother and her five children, while my mother murmurs an “excuse me,” and I follow like the little lamb, not to slaughter, but to the fold of the railway station. Dad leads us over to Platform 9, to the front of the non-existent line-up, just behind the roped-off gate. I’m right with him when he again looks at his watch. I can’t wait to get on the train.

“It’s 9 a.m.; the train doesn’t leave until 10.30 a.m.” Dad nods his head.

That seems like a long time to an eight-year old, so I start squirming.

Excerpted from You Can Go Home. Copyright 2009 Sharon Crawford.

Like my father before me I wear a watch and have clocks all over the house. My kitchen contains two clocks, but my office contains four clocks – when the computers are turned on. The two in the kitchen tally for time, although one is digital and the other is an old-fashioned round electric wall clock with hands – just like the one in the kitchen when I was growing up. I prefer the hand type – except when I’m in a hurry and need the exact time NOW. Then it’s digital. The office ones don’t all agree – the wall clock (the one in this photo; Teddy doesn’t sit on it. He hangs from a hook on a shelf, but that’s another story.  I removed the clock from the wall to shoot the photo) is set five minutes ahead. That’s so I will finish my work on time and get on to the next thing to do or place to go.

Doesn’t work – I mean me. The clock is just fine.

“I’m late. I’m late.”

I pile up place after place for my errands, constantly check store clocks and my watch, trying to beat time, trying to get home by a certain time so I can race around the house doing more chores or watch TV and do chores during the commercials unless it’s PBS or TVO.

Lately, er, recently, I’ve come close to having a panic attack – chest tightening and feeling anxious. So before it gets full-blown or worse – catapults me into heart attack territory, I’m trying to rein in my time. Focus on one matter at a time; say “NO” a lot; delete more e-mails and leave some unanswered – at least for awhile; let the phone ring and ring – voice mail can do the job; move some stuff into that big fat and getting fatter compartment called “pending.” I’d add “delegate,” but to whom? Remember, no brother, no sister, and no partner here.

However, I could synchronize all my clocks.

What do others do to tame time? Any big secrets to doing this?

Cheers.

Sharon

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