I always arrive at work at 7:50 a.m. That’s ten minutes before I have to officially unlock the writing center door, turn on the lights, and open up for business.
This morning, at approximately 7:55, I made a quick trip to the men’s restroom. Actually, I’m pretty lucky in that it’s located just a few feet away from our center. (There’s a lot to be said for convenience.) Anyway, when I stepped into the place, there was a man just finishing up his business at one of the urinals. As soon as he zipped up and turned toward me, I noticed that he had a toothbrush sticking out of his mouth. Seeing this prompted me to ask, “Multitasking are you?” He found my question humorous. I know this because he began to smile when I put it to him. He then walked to the sink, spit a wad of froth from his mouth, and thoroughly washed his hands, face, and brush.
This rather inconsequential encounter in the john got me thinking about how busy our lives are. It was both a little humorous and a little sad that this fellow couldn’t focus on either peeing or brushing and found himself having to do them simultaneously. I hope it doesn’t come to the point that we have to carry around little pocket-sized planners to schedule our bowel movements.
Having lived in other countries I can say for a fact—at least it seems certain enough that it feels factual—that life in America is more hectic than in other places. There’s always someplace to be, some call to make, a bundle of bills to pay, a job that needs doing. The rich manage all this by hiring secretaries, managers, publicists, maids, nannies, and so on. The poor manage this by going insane. Those that don’t go crazy turn to the bottle or some other form of escapism that’s bound to be at least a little self-destructive.
I haven’t entirely figured it out yet, but I feel pretty certain that there’s some sort of relationship between living under a pretty hardcore capitalist economic system and the sort of panicky feeling I often have. I’m not sure why that’s the case. (Maybe it’s because we say that time is money in America?) I wonder if people who live in more socialistic countries aren’t just a little calmer. My guess is that they are.
I’m going to spend the rest of the afternoon—after I get all this stuff done that needs doing—thinking about this question of capitalism and anxiety. There certainly has to be a connection. I’m positively sure there must be.