It’s hard to believe that in 2006 a successful real estate professional could still be living in the technological dark ages, free from the Web-based wonders of e-mail and instant messaging and the real-time connectivity of a BlackBerry. But that’s the case for the mother of one of our editorial staff members (who shall remain nameless for fear of retribution from said mother’s corporate masters). When this anonymous mother received word from headquarters that Web-based leads would henceforth be forwarded to her cell phone instantly, she resisted the call to get with the Big Brotherly program.
“That would mean I would be getting calls from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, and I’d be expected to respond within 15 minutes,” she complained. “My time is my time.”
It used to be that we laughed off her technological inadequacies: How quaint that little ol’ mum can’t Google her way out of a wet paper bag. In the 11 years since her family first dialed-up to the big WWW, she has never sent a single e-mail.
But her latest resistance to a technological “advancement” struck a different tone with us, especially in light of the fact that we learned of it on the eve of the fourth annual Take Back Your Time Day. This international movement (Canadians are on board, too) was designed to draw attention to the fact that Americans (and Canadians) work, on average, 350 hours—or nine weeks—more per year than our Western European counterparts. Oct. 24 is significant because it’s nine weeks from the end of the year, representing the nine extra weeks we bust our humps to out-produce those lazy Europeans.
The holiday wasn’t lost on Missoula Parks & Recreation either, which sponsored a Take Back Your Time Day event at Currents Indoor Aquatics Center. Citizens were invited, but not compelled, to swim aimlessly from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and to participate in other Take Back Your Time activities.
“People just don’t realize how important it is to take time to rest, rejuvenate and recreate,” said Donna Gaukler, Parks & Recreation director.
At the pool someone had posted a set of “adult playground rules,” which included strictures such as: No laptop or cell phone use; No worrying about deadlines; No business suits allowed; No business meetings; and, finally, Take back your time.
That’d be nice, but all the sign did was remind us that we were busting our deadline and had to get back to the office.
As for the Take Back Your Time activities at Currents, well, we never did find out what those were all about; apparently no one had enough time to take any back: the pool was empty.