The Philosophy of Time, Down East Style

Snow looks beautiful...until you need to get from point A to point B.

Snow looks beautiful…until you need to get from point A to point B.

I set off for a trip to town recently–it had rained a bit overnight and then we got snow. It took several minutes for me to sweep the dry snow from my car and several more to scrape the undercoat of ice away.

As I drove down the street I noticed that most drivers had done the same but two had not bothered. They had scratched off a space no larger than a folded newspaper and were attempting to navigate by peering through that small, clear space. I can only hope they managed to reach their destination without causing an accident that harmed another driver or a pedestrian.

This is what you might call “minute wise, hour foolish”. It happens when, in an effort to save a few minutes of time or labor, one makes choices that might seem to work in the short run but are destined to result in more work or discomfort down the road. Example: Going to bed with a sinkful of dirty dishes. Being were too tired to deal with them at the moment meant in the end, that the food had dried and congealed overnight and the job took twice as long as it would have had you just bucked up and done them. (I know that feeling!)

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Open cans easily, and never touch a lid again. Click here to find out more at Lehmans.com.

Short-sightedness can crop up in any number of places. I heard from a friend yesterday who was cranky because she wanted soup for lunch but couldn’t have it because she couldn’t find the charger for her battery-operated can opener. How much time does it really take to open a can with a manual can opener? 30 seconds? The battery-operated can opener probably took 15 seconds. Those 15 saved seconds was certainly negated by the fruitless search for the charger.

Another friend showed off her new garbage can. She was mighty proud of the way it opens when you pass your hand over the lid. It was pretty hard not to chuckle when she found it took several tries to get it to work as your hand had to be positioned exactly right or it refused to open at all. She sheepishly commented on the necessary “learning curve”. A learning curve? For a trash can. Really?

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Each time I see another time saving gadget advertised I think about the time it truly saves. Electric popcorn poppers, automatic ice cube dispensers, scales that talk to you and blenders with 27 speeds all cost extra money and take up valuable real estate in the house.

It’s an expensive trade-off for the seconds of time they actually save. Simple, hand operated tools are generally less expensive and often have multiple uses, saving space and money over the long run. It has been my experience (and trust me-I’m a girl who loves her gadgets) that specialized, technology dependent tools are less dependable, more costly and almost always harder to care for. Should the power go out or you lose the charger tech toys become doorstops.

I’m still using the heavy duty can opener that belonged to my mother. My waste basket is just a can but it has no convoluted crevices to hold unsanitary food gunk.  Every few weeks I hose it off in the tub. I hope that both will find homes with one of my children when I pass on.  I’m willing to bet that the battery-operated can opener and the electronic waste basket will never go anywhere but to the already overflowing waste stream in the end.

Kathy Harrison

About Kathy Harrison

Kathy Harrison is the author of Just in Case, Another Place at the Table, and One Small Boat. She is a national spokesperson for both foster parenting and family preparedness and has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.