Friday, June 11, 2004

The Many Uses of "Rubber Time"

The Many Uses of "Rubber Time"

It was raining early this morning, Johan, Mike and I decided to take a taxi to our client's office instead of the skytrain. It was big mistake. Our cab got caught in gridlocked traffic in front of the Central World Plaza. For half-an-hour we didn't move an inch. Sensing the hopelessness of the situation, we finally decided to ask the taxi driver turn back and take us to the Rajdamri train station instead.

Luckily the rain had subsided a little bit by then. We thought we were half-an-hour late but fortunately our Thai customers also practise what the Indonesians call jam karet or "rubber time". I'm quite used to that. At least, there's no last minute cancellation--that happens often enough in Indonesia.

It can be very stressful if we are constantly being squeezed by time. Maybe our paradigm here is wrong: Why do we always say we want to "catch up" with friends or spend "quality time" with the family or "chase" after project datelines? Are we implying that the way we go about our daily lives is "slow" and that there are different categories of time--some of "better quality" than others?

Last year, I wrote a blog entry about how different people can perceive time very differently. Yes, time is a precious and limited resource, but we also have to think if some of our modern-day habits are really about using our time productively or more of an addiction to the adrenalin rush that comes with speed. By always being in a hurry, we also subconsciously pander to our need for feeling self-important. "Important" people have no time to lose, because "time is money".

Interestingly there are also certain people who purposely (and sometimes subconsciously) arrive late for appointments to make themselves appear more important, and put other people who are kept waiting, at a psychological disadvantage.

Time, can be experienced and manipulated in so many different ways. Time is indeed like karet (rubber)--it is flexible and can be made into any shape for many different uses. Some people use it like a mask to cover their insecurities, others use it to choke themselves to an asphyxial high.

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