Thursday, May 28, 2009

Posted at 12:06AM

It must be difficult these days for the chronically late.

(I pause here to let my brain roll over my unintentionally appropriate use of "chronically," since it's a modification of "chronic" which comes from khronos, which means "time." Word origin thoughts regularly halt my thought process in this way.)

It used to be that, upon arriving late, you could simply blame your watch for not keeping good time. Or you could say that you didn't wear your watch today, and you were outside and didn't know what time it was. If daylight savings time had begun or ended in the past few days, you always had the "forgot to set it back/forward" line of defense.

But then came CST, or Cellphone Standard Time:

"Sorry I'm late. I didn't notice what time it was."

"Oh yeah? Hmm. It's too bad you don't have some small device on you that displays the current time by keeping in constant sync via radio waves to computer servers that are themselves synced with the national atomic clock, one of the most accurate clocks in the world . . . oh wait, I guess you do have one of those, it's right there in your pocket."

Never in history have so many people been locked on the very same minute. When my generation is very old, we'll tell crazy stories about how the "current time" was this vague, lucid thing that varied from person to person.

"In my day. If you asked a guy for the time, and he always sets his watch 5 minutes fast, then that guy just screwed you over good. You were gonna miss the bus and have to walk home in the snow. Only way you could get accurate time back then was to call the BANK."

"Uh huh, sure, the bank. (Grandpa's lost his mind.)*"

*"Don't you go using that 'loud whisper' joke on me, sonny. I invented that joke back in ought two, sold it to "The Simpsons," for a pretty penny. Speaking of which, doesn't the new season premier tonight?"

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