Pressure of Time

German Version

The other day I was observing a woman who was standing in front of me in a queue of a chemist’s shop. The cashing had stopped for some reason, because the cashier had to exchange the paper for the sales checks or something similar. I don’t remember anymore. It was one of those reasons the woman at the cash point could not prevent and therefore customers usually come to terms with their fate with a patient composure. But the woman that I was observing was not that composed. She was bristling like an uneasy horse and was saying something. Her impatience was obvious. Although the incident had just been lasting for one minute and actually was finished after about five minutes, which made her calm down pretty fast.

Obviously she had a zero tolerance limit for waiting at a cash point. She seemed to expect that everything should work at once and fast and that she should be able to leave the shop within a few minutes. And usually it works that way nowadays. Problems are not allowed to occur and if they do, they have to be solved at once.

Where does this expectation come from? Did we always have such high demands towards service personnel? Or were there times when we had more time and also granted it to others?

The acceleration of life and the notorious scarcity of time seem to be widespread diseases. It’s right, our lives have become much faster and more stressful in the last decades. With cars and planes we overcome long distances in few hours. Technology and machines let us produce faster and more than ever before. Also the internet caused the effect that we can have things at once like information or flight tickets. We seem to have forgotten how to wait.

And although we get so many things instantly and without long waiting times, we seem not to have more but less time nowadays. Where do we lose all the time which we gained through new technologies? One problem could be the expectations we have of our lives. What is a good, fulfiled life? Don’t we all expect today to get a good education and after that a good job with good opportunities to earn money and to climb the social ladder? Certainly we want to self-actualise and find fulfilment in the job too. We expect the perfect partner, a harmonious relationship and perfect children, always enough money to be able to buy everything and to travel a lot. A lot of those expectations can be fulfiled like travelling, a good medical care or the possibilities of education, but not all. The idea to be able to get everything without big problems or any work seems to be rather shaped by the advertising industry than reality.

But maybe the reason for the impatience of people lies in the fact that they have to fulfil high expectations themselves in our fast pacing world with its thousand possibilities. We have to be fast, effective and flexible in our working life otherwise either our boss or customer gets impatient. In a reverse conclusion we expect of others to be just as fast and effective as we have to be. We pass on the pressure we feel every day. And honestly, where would we end up, if we all worked so slowly?

But that is how we produce stress, not just for the earlier mentioned till girl, but also for ourselves. Maybe we should simply fill the day with less activities and enjoy those more. Because then such little time wasters like unexpectedly waiting a little longer in a till queue don’t upset us so much and maybe we even use the opportunity for a social contact and exchange some friendly words with the till girl or with one of the other waiting people.


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