It Only Takes a Minute To Read The Humorless Twit | May 2004


Bits and Pieces, News and Notes, Etc.

I hear Al Qaeda has released another tape. It’s called Osama bin Laden’s Greatest Hits and is also available on CD. It features such popular songs as “Ahab, the Arab;” “O Little Bomber of Bethlehem;” “Walk Like an Egyptian;” “Way Down Upon the Tigris River;” “Eight Bombs a Week;” “Sympathy for the Ayatollah;” “I’m Too Sexy for My Burkha;” “Between Iraq and a Hard Place;” “You Don’t Bring Me Fuses Anymore;” “Iraqi Mountain High;” and that timeless classic, “Burkha and the Beast.”

One of the best things about being a columnist is you have a forum for venting about those things that really–let me put it politely here–peeve you. That’s exactly what I’m going to do this issue.

You see, we live in a society of nannies. We’re constantly being told what’s good for us, what we can eat, what we can do, how and when we can to go the bathroom, and so on.

While that bothers me some in general, what really irks me–given my extraordinarily busy life–is the most pain-in-the-butt thing in the universe: being nagged that “(fill in the blank here) only takes a minute.”

I hear commercials on the radio and TV that nag “it only takes a minute to….” I’m sure you have too. At work you’ll hear, “It only takes a minute to….” Doctors nag you, “It only takes a minute…” to prepare “healthy” food or engage in exercise. Dentists nag “it only takes a minute…” to brush after every meal or floss.

When you get back home from a long day at work and running errands, your significant other will surely say, “It only takes a minute…” to do one of countless chores, or something else (nod, nod, wink, wink). And right when you sit down to eat, the phone rings and sure enough, you’ll often hear “this survey will only take a minute….”

Every time I hear someone say “it only takes a minute to…” I feel a strong impulse to choke them as I yell “it’ll only take a minute before the oxygen stops going to your brain and you pass out!”

Why does this little phrase anger me so?

Well, for starters, if I added up all the “minutes” from all these nagging nannies’ “suggestions” (I’d like to make a “suggestion” as to what these people can do with their “suggestions”), my day would be about 48 hours long. I could only WISH my days were 48 hours long, with all the things I have to do! Except for Mondays, those days naturally tend to feel 48 hours long.

Another problem I have with “it only takes a minute…” is that I hear it all the time. Dozens of times a day. It’s already well beyond old for me, even after I had heard it the first 500 times. I don’t know that I’ve heard any other phrase more often in my life–at least not that I can recall this minute.

Now I come to the biggest reason I absolutely HATE to be told something “takes a minute” to do: because it almost NEVER does! At least not for me.

An example: I work for the County and my office is right at a MetroRail station. The County’s downtown headquarters, which I have to visit often as part of my job, is also at a MetroRail station. Now, it only takes ten minutes to go from the station I work at to the downtown station on the MetroRail. Yet if I have to be downtown by a certain time, I try to leave half an hour early (at least)–and yet my co-workers try to tell me I’m leaving too early.

Oh, am I? Let’s see… I’m usually too busy even to go to the restroom during the day, so I’ll stop there on my way out to the MetroRail station. That’s about 3 minutes (hey, I wash my hands when I’m done!).

Then, there’s another minute or two (or more sometimes) waiting for the elevator. Now, I know what some of you are thinking right now, “Take the stairs to save time and get some exercise.” Nice try: my office is on the top floor of our building and I sweat at the drop of a hat. I do NOT intend to go to a meeting with top County officials as sweat drips from every pore in my body. No thanks.

Okay, once the elevator shows up, it takes about a minute or so to get to the ground floor. Then it’s out to the MetroRail station, through the turnstile, up the escalator, and if I’m lucky, I’ll only have to wait a minute or so for my train.

Once I’m on the train, travel time to the downtown station is only ten minutes–IF there are no problems with the train, the track, etc.

When I get downtown, I have to take either several flights of stairs or escalators (usually, a combination) downstairs, then I go to the lobby of County headquarters where everyone–including the County Commissioners and the Mayor–has to go through a security checkpoint. Then I ride another elevator to where my meeting is taking place. By now, it’s been about 20 or 30 minutes.

I think that example illustrates how something that should “only take a minute” or so can take a lot longer. But I’ll give you another example, one you should be able to relate to directly.

When was the last time you were given local driving directions and were told, “It’s just a 15-minute drive?” Do you fall on the floor laughing as I do when someone tells you that? I live right by the highway and it takes me 15 minutes just to get ON the freaking highway!!!!! For crying out loud, this is South Florida, there is no such thing as a 15-minute drive, not even to your next door neighbor’s house!

There, now that I’m done venting, I think I’ll send this in to my editor, Mark. Nah, on second thought, let me get up and get something to drink. I’ll send it to him later. In fact, I’ll wait until the last minute to send it to him.

After all, it should only take him a minute to layout this story in the Flamenco.