Last Saturday, I was going to a friend’s house for dinner. A dinner that I was supposed to prepare because of a bet that I had lost to him. The bet was that my friend––let’s call him Norway––was gonna bench press 80kgs in one rep. Since Norway has the physique similar to a small tree branch, I, along with all my co-workers, were overwhelmingly confident that he couldn’t pull off this relatively incredible feat. Much to our surprise, he managed to do so––not only once, but four times. Norway wins.
He decided that I should cook a meal for him.
I casually mentioned this bet to another friend––let’s call him the UK––and he immediately became wide-eyed and excited, and wanted in on the whole cooking part of the dinner. The UK apparently loves to cook, and knew about this gargantuan meat market and decided to go there, buy a shit-load of food, and then prepare it on Saturday, starting from 1pm. In other words, the UK wanted to go all in and cook a world-class meal for not only me and Norway, but also for ten other people, a process that the UK thought would take seven hours to prepare. The bet had now gone over my head, and I was smirking joyously when I superbly delegated it to the UK. Considering my debt to Norway being paid, with a little international help, I was happy. Norway should certainly feel pleased that he got a whole three-course meal prepared for him––I reckoned––instead of whatever I would’ve come up with (I hear McDonald’s have excellent take-out). You might argue that I got off the hook too easily, but I consider myself the broker of this awesome dinner feast. If the host is Norway and the chef is the UK, let’s call me the Puppet Master.
Anyway, back to the point of this post.
So I was on my way to Norway’s house last Saturday evening, and chose taxi as my mode of transportation. Brilliant idea––especially when this is oftentimes the case when I decide to use public transport:
However, the traffic in Bangkok is also a horrible life experience, especially on certain hours, on certain days, in certain directions and on certain roads. The taxi driver––let’s call him The Genius––decided that, instead of going the fastest and non-traumatising route, he’d go the other way, the much longer, traffic-abundant way, where
wonderful dreadful physical experiences occur, such as; raised heartbeat, intense perspiration and tear-provoking swearing.
A ride that should be no more than 5-10 minutes via the shortest route, with minimal traffic (max. 20 minutes with normal traffic), now took 80 minutes instead.
But, wait, there’s more––
The Genius realized he couldn’t find the destination he first said that he indeed could find, so he decided that an infuriating 10-minute leg-stretcher was precisely what I needed, and dropped me off in the middle of nowhere, making me even more late to the dinner that I had brokered.
After I had calmed down, I started to think about how utterly useless these 80 minutes + 10-minute leg-stretch were in terms of purely wasted time. I also thought about how many situations like these, both of bigger and of smaller nature, must accumulate into a completely ridiculous amount of time in a full lifetime.
Other notable examples of time-wasting champions include, but are not limited to:
- Waiting for the girlfriend while she prepares whatever she needs to prepare before going anywhere. Top contender.
- Waiting for the train on my way to/from work. 10-15 minutes a day, five days a week, indefinitely… That surely adds up to countless hours in the long run.
- Waiting for the elevators in my office building. Especially horrible and unpleasant during lunch hours, when a 15-minute wait is not uncommon at all.
- All those seconds you lose in any elevator you’re in, because you live at the top floor and the other idiots in the elevator have to get off at different floors than you. Ugh.
- Really any situation where you’re unable to do anything else except walking. You can’t really do any work or anything useful while walking, while driving, while riding in a car, or any similar activity. This leaves you alone with your thoughts, and, usually, you don’t really think about anything in particular in these situations. Or maybe you are. I don’t know you. Point is, all this time you’re just transporting yourself, you’re not really doing anything.
- All those hours where the girlfriend goes on an insane shopping-frenzy where she thoroughly examines every piece of clothing in all the stores at the mall and you’re just kind of there as support because you’re just kind of supposed to and not really contributing with anything useful and you end up on a bench somewhere inside Zara with all the other waiting men staring at the floor, all defeated. Nothing more to add here.
As you can see, my life consists of many situations where I am tied up in various ways, where I really don’t or can’t do anything useful with my life.
The last couple of months, I’ve filled these gaps with various, awesome podcasts. Podcasts are basically designed to fill these voids in my life, and you can usually find one in any genre or category you have an interest in. For instance, I like those about space, finance, football and new technology. Thanks to podcasts, I can at least learn something while doing absolutely nothing, which of course is what life is all about (learning, not doing nothing).
The paragraph where we project just how much time that’s wasted on useless activities throughout my life
Let’s say that I live until the sweet age of 90. If I will be anything like today’s 90-year-olds, I’ll be complaining that “things were better when I was your age”, I’ll probably be more racist than my grandkids, and I’ll probably still listen to the same music as I do now, which would largely be various kinds of deep house. I will probably also be a huge promoter of gruesome shows as The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, where beheadings, torture and rape are kind of common things to experience. To put that in contrast, my grandma––although only 72––likes to watch Allsång På Skansen, play Candy Crush Saga, walk on walks, sit on benches, and pull one of these things around.
I’m going to be conservative in my calculations. I will also be kind of reckless and generalise a lot, and I’ll adress the aforementioned points individually, and then add them together and see what I come up with.
- Let’s say that you go out with the girlfriend once a week, to a party, to a dinner, to the movies, or any scenario where she “has to” prepare herself. There have been pleasant times where she’s been surprisingly quick (15 minutes), but also times where my hairline recedes significantly due to the frustrating waiting game (>1 hour). Let’s put an average, very generous 45 minute/week wait here.
- The train wait: 10-15 minutes daily converts to 50-75 minutes weekly
- Office elevators: let’s go with 5 minutes every day multiplied by five workdays, which obviously equals to 25 minutes per week where I do nothing
- Any elevator: let’s say the condo elevator stops once every time I use it, I’d estimate I lose 15 seconds because of this, since the elevator has to slow down, open and close doors, and then accelerate further up, instead of simply going straight up to my floor. This means I waste 15x2x5 seconds––or 2½ minutes––weekly. Doing nothing.
- Transportation where I’m unable to be of use to myself or anyone else: this one is hard to estimate, but let’s be unbelievably generous and go with one hour per week.
- The insane girlfriend shopping-frenzy: again, being way too conservative, let’s go with 1,5 hours two times a month, equaling 45 minutes per week.
This means that I utterly waste ∼238 minutes of my live every week. That’s almost four full hours. That’s insane. A month? 15 hours. A year? 190 hours, aka a whole month’s worth of work, plus 19% overtime.
What this sickness turns into in a 90-year lifetime
Let’s assume that this sick lifestyle commences when you turn 25 and goes on until you hit 90 and leave this earth, that would mean you have suffered for 65 years. So, 190 hours every year, for 65 fucking years, will mean that you’ve spent 12 350 hours of your life, being frustrated as shit, doing nothing, and accomplishing even less. Delightful.
Some things you could do with that amount of time:
- Work 77 full months, without rest, breaks, vacations or weekends.
- Watch all of the Lord of the Rings movies, the extended versions, a thousand times over, which would be fantastic and awesome
- Watch seasons 1-5 of Game of Thrones 296 times
- If you average one hour per workout, you would workout 12 350 times in 65 years (190 times per year, or roughly once every other day, which would be very healthy and good for your body)
- Fly around the Earth 242 times, which would be incredibly boring after the first lap
- Use this time to study and become a genius and invent something very cool, like interstellar transportation.
You might say that this sick lifestyle is impossible to maintain once you retire or grow older, that the time wasted would decline or change. You might even say that I am a baboon for thinking that this would be the case for such a long time. But then you forget that I am the sole the owner, author,
reader and emperor of this blog, and that I can say whatever I want. Also, I confessed earlier that I’d be generalising a lot, and that I’d be reckless in my calculations.
I bet it’s almost impossible to thoroughly and scientifically calculate exactly how much time that’s wasted on various activities throughout one’s life. It’s also possible to discuss the definition of what’s a waste of time and what’s not, and it’s certainly an individual interpretation.
That being said, it is insanely interesting to see how much time that you could use to be more productive, more efficient, spend more times with the people you love, doing the things you love to do, and so on, instead of spending your precious time on stupid and useless things. I’m starting to get the feeling that if I continue to write much more in this post, I’d be drifting towards an existential crisis and start to ask philosophical questions about the meaning of life.
But that’s for another post.