Wednesday, June 24, 2009

time vs. money

Time and money have a very strong relationship. Sort of like the relationship between donuts and a coronary artery bypass. You can't really think about one without thinking about the other.

My parents first ingrained this relationship into my primitive skull as a child. If I wasted time, I was in trouble. If I wasted money, I was in trouble. Actually, I came to believe time was money, and money was lunch bags, because if I wasted lunch bags I was in trouble too1. Later in life I came to realize these paper sacks that I was carrying home to reuse were actually worth the equivalent of the fifteen used pieces of gum stuck to the bottom of my desk which entertained me between recess and the moments I thought to say something ridiculous in class2.

Also, Ben R., if you're out there, I thought it was just as ridiculous that I was using month-old lunch sacks. Which is why I always laughed when you made fun of me.

One of my favorite growing-up episodes to remember is when my brother John made the entire family wait in the van for a half hour (very typical occurrence) when he was late exiting Lagoon (an amusement park in Utah). My dad connected the time and money concept in no uncertain terms by declaring his hourly rate as a Physician, and the amount John would be repaying him. Those were some great days.

I've recently been able to solidify the relationship between time and money in a more certain manner. For example, I planned a trip home to Utah (as well as a few other locations afterwards), and purchased tickets from Delta. After buying my tickets, a job interview materialized in Dallas in the same timeframe.

"No matter", I told them, "just send me to Salt Lake straight after Dallas". I figured I could skip the first of my five flights (SFO to SLC), and catch the rest of my itinerary, no problem. This would save me about two hours.

The morning of my interview, I suddenly wondered if Delta would care to know beforehand that I wouldn't be needing my first seat, so I thought I'd call and tell them out of the goodness of my heart. This was an inspired move, as it turns out you can't just miss a flight and catch the rest. You miss one flight, and the whole reservation dies.

Somewhat bemused, I queried as to what my options were, to find out the only solution was to cancel the whole reservation, then rebook the entire itinerary, doubling the price to $700.

Those two hours I saved were pretty uneventful. You'd think that after I paid the $350 extra for them something amazing would have happened. Not the case. I spent them reading in a very crowded terminal full of angry smelly passengers.

Remember, time is money. And money is lunch sacks.

1. I am, of course, kidding. To the extent that my mother reads this, of course. If she doesn't actually read it, I'm not stretching the truth all that much.
2. I still harbor a grudge against Mrs. Jones, for the time I quoted a Muppet's film in class. She had a habit of mentioning how people were caught 'red handed'. As a connoisseur of the Muppets, I couldn't help but raise my hand one day and ask, "what color are their hands now?" This did not produce the laughs my sixth-grade mind projected, and I experienced being caught red faced as crickets chirped and Mrs. Jones made some snide comment about maturity. The nerve.

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