Time is supposed to be fairly exact. There are 24 hours in a day. 60 minutes in an hour and 60 seconds in one minute. But under certain circumstances, the hours and minutes seem to take an eternity. How is that possible?

Well, dear hearts and gentle people, no matter what anyone tells you, time is relative. If you doubt that, take any event you wish to consider for this unofficial study and you will find the real truth about time. What you are doing, planning to do, or the reason you are waiting and counting down the minutes, determine how long it will take a specific amount of time to pass.

“Tempus fugit” means “time flies.”   It is another phrase we borrowed from the Romans who spoke Latin in complete sentences instead of sound bites. Some use the phrase when they wish to sound wiser than they might be.

For example, several years ago we received a gift catalog from a company striving to be a bit too clever or perhaps their goal was to amuse. Hidden within the pages was a gem of sorts that not only caught our attention back then but lingers in our minds to this day.

“Tempus is fugiting” read the caption above a particularly expensive item photographed to appeal to and entice the prospective impulse buyer. The attempt at highbrow came off as quite ridiculous when they took a perfectly good Latin word and tampered with it by tacking on an English suffix.

The resulting response from the Cognoscenti (the experts) was a disdainful snort while the copywriters patted themselves on the back for not only a job well done, but also for being so clever. And the masses? It simply flew over their heads with the speed of a soaring eagle.

Let’s look at a few examples of time behaving erratically, rather than the way it should.

Suppose you have a doctor’s appointment, an appointment that obliges you to arrived on time rather than five or ten minutes late? Suddenly, your forward progress is thwarted by a road-surfacing crew. Since only one lane is intermittently available allowing you to continue your journey, you are forced to stop for several minutes, or what seems like a half an hour or more, until the pace car or truck leads the parade of backed up vehicles to freedom.

The same thing is true in the case of an unexpected accident. It is a given that no accident can be scheduled or expected unless you happen to be one of the three Fates who control your destiny or the destiny of those involved in the accident. In either case, the wait time will seem longer than the actual time spent sitting idle, stressing about the time lost.

If you have a job that requires you to be present in mind and body for eight full hours, then you have discovered the erratic flow of time. The entire day will seem to zip by in the blink of an eye if you are too busy to look up and check the time. However, when you completed all the tasks of the day, and you glance at the clock on the wall, William Shakespeare whispers in your ear reminding you that time “creeps in this petty pace” just to drive you crazy.

There may be an hour or fifteen minutes left before the rush to the parking lot begins. Then, it does not matter how often you check the time five o’clock remains a distant hope on the horizon.

This phenomenon is also true during basketball and football games. Somehow, the officials manage to stretch fifteen seconds into another half hour.

On the other hand, if you are having a great time dancing, visiting with friends, or enjoying the company of the perfect date, the clock will strike midnight all too soon (or whatever time your pumpkin carriage goes poof).

The perverse sense of humor of the gods is surely at play when they always cut your fun time short, reminding mere mortals  “Time flies when you are having fun (and creeps when you are not).


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