A few weeks ago I mentioned that I bought a one-handed wristwatch, which was designed with only an hour hand. I call it the “About Watch,” because its level of accuracy is, “About four o’clock,” or, “About quarter after nine.”
The reason I bought the watch was to wean myself away from my obsession with time-keeping precision. Most watches I’ve worn in the past 30 years had digital displays that would inform me that the time was, for example, exactly 10:36:17 AM. Has there ever been a time in my life when it was crucial that I knew it was precisely thirty-six minutes and seventeen seconds after ten o’clock in the morning? The answer is no.
Anyway, the reason I am rehashing all this, is because after the original column about the one-handed watch appeared in the newspaper, I received an email from a reader who congratulated me on breaking free from the oppression of time-keeping. At first, I thought this reader agreed with my view that people nowadays are too focused on precise time, when being accurate within five or 10 minutes is good enough during everyday life.
However, as I continued reading the email, I learned that my new pen pal was a bit more radical about the concept of time. He explained that ALL time-keeping is an oppressive system foisted on humanity by evil capitalists. Whereas I concluded that having my watch tell me it’s thirty-six minutes and seventeen seconds after ten o’clock in the morning was unnecessarily too precise, he passionately proclaimed that keeping track of hours and days and weeks was the source of all unhappiness in the modern world.
Um, I’m not sure that’s what I had in mind.
I guess if someone has the skill to build his own cabin, chop firewood, and grow his own food, he’d be able to survive — for a while. But the other 330 million of us in this country would be in big, big trouble. The fact is, without some basic, universally accepted time-keeping system, nothing would get done and the entire economy would collapse.