The Suitcase Lady


September 9, 2014, 9:37 pm

I recently read a New Yorker article which delved into the topic of why Americans have no time. College professors who study the issue found the causes puzzling. I am puzzled that the obvious wasn’t stated: we all have to do everything for ourselves now, we’re forced to be Jacks and Jills of all trades.

Given time to think for a moment, we could all conjure up countless examples of added jobs that have been foisted on us by three perfect time guzzlers:

  • A consumer driven society which demands that we buy and care for tons of junk
  • The loss of jobs in the service sector
  • The exponential growth of technology

I recently conjured up all the ways my time was being stolen. My list is gargantuan, but three examples will suffice.

I’m from a working class family, but my mother never washed anything but delicate “hand wash”. Milwaukee used to have numerous home laundry services, and they weren’t only for the rich. Every few weeks the laundry van came to our front door and hauled away two bulging sacks of my dad’s work clothes, dirty sheets, towels, throw rugs, handkerchiefs, etc. A few days later the van returned with two gigantic paper-wrapped bundles of sparkling clean and pressed laundry. My mother was seventy when the last home laundry went out of business. With tears in her eyes she asked me,”What am I going to do?” I told her I would show her how to use a washer.

Last week, my husband spent significant time on three consecutive days trying to get an airline credit on two tickets we had been unable to use. Since the airline was already charging us $300 to change the tickets, the lost hours seemed especially grating. On day three the purpose of the runaround became apparent. The price of the flight was increased on day three thus giving the airline $150 additional dollars.

Grocery store checkers used to ask their customers if they would like help taking groceries to their cars. The new question employees ask is, “Wouldn’t you like to use the self check out?” My reply is, “No, thank you, I don’t want you or any other employee to lose their job.”

My husband and I have a sure cure for our lack of time, but it’s a bit draconian. Buy nothing and go nowhere.


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