The math of waiting


Let’s say, for instance, that we’re all able to experience an entire day, barring all other elements of magical realism or supernatural interventions from the insecure god or deities of whatever religion we practice, granting that we have 24 hours a day, and forget for a while the 23 hours, 46 minutes, and 56.06 seconds for Earth to complete its axis which corresponds to an Earth day they used to teach us in our elementary Science classes, and from this let us do a daunting task, I know, most of us have never tried before – computing for the time we spend waiting.

By the time you wake up, you wait for your estranged spirit, after an entire night of Dionysian odyssey, to return to your physical being. It can be through a morning prayer, a quiet contemplation, or simply having a blank state of mind. If you do not do the first two, then the third one is considered waiting time, which I believe is what most all of us do. (15 minutes).

You take a bath, and let’s be conservative this time, you read yesterday’s paper while doing away with the shit you accumulated from the previous day, you wait for the heater to warm the water to your desired temperature, and you wait for your hair to dry. (15 minutes.)

You stand outside waiting for the elevator that takes forever to arrive (of course it’s not forever because if it is, this essay will be nothing but a waste of time). (10 minutes. By the way, on my way to the ground floor this afternoon, I had to wait for 20 minutes [!] because only one out of four Otis elevators was functioning in the building where I live.)

You walk to the nearest MRT station, wait in line for the ticket (10 minutes, if the station is in Santolan; 45 minutes if it’s Cubao or Taft Ave). You will have to wait for another 15 minutes for the train to arrive. By the time you reach the station, on your way to the actual workplace you will ordinarily have to wait again for another 15-20 minutes inside a jeepney that waits to fill in all available seating space with passengers.

In your workplace, you wait in line for the use of photocopier or printer (5 minutes), to fill in you mug with coffee from a dispenser (2 minutes), for lunch at the cafeteria (7 minutes), a call on hold (10 minutes), for your prima donna boss to arrive at a meeting (15 minutes).

Then you do another reverse computation on your way home. Total: 3 hours and 42 minutes – the time we spend waiting. And if you’re thinking that this is just too much. Think of the people who do nothing but wait for the second coming.



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