It’s ironic that telling time, my greatest weakness as I was growing up, has become my greatest strength and is what makes me perfect for my chosen career.
I don’t have any evidence such as photos or stories from my mom but I can piece together, from memories and what I know about my mother, a picture that rings true.
I was a morning person or trained myself to become one. This was because my mother was absolutely not a morning person. If I wanted any time to myself. If I wanted to read undisturbed. If I didn’t want to have to share the living room of our apartment, I needed to be up early.
As one of the few working moms, back in the early sixties most of my friends mothers stayed home, my mom didn’t have time to get me ready for school because she was busy getting herself ready for work. Thus from as early as I can remember I took care of myself. I made my own breakfast and lunch. I walked to school on my own. I can recall the tree shaded paths I walked. I can still see the worms that would be inching their way along that same path on damp mornings. What, you’re wondering does any of this have to do with telling time? I’m getting there, trust me.
My mom gave me a book to help me tell time – this was long before digital displays – so I knew what time school started. I had a clock in my room and I would consult it regularly but time always seemed a strange language. Long arms and short arms and the numbers on the dial which could be whole or fractions of the whole, confused me. I knew it was bad to be late for school. No matter what time the clock said it was, I convinced myself that I was late. I hurried, rushing to get to school. This happened day after day. I never got comfortable with time. I was usually the first child at school. This had some advantages. I got to know the cafeteria ladies. They must have assumed that my parents intentionally sent me to school early and felt sorry for me. They fed me sweet rolls and milk in the morning.
Eventually I got my time anxiety under control. I learned to use the clock. I figured out how much time it would take me to wash, get dressed, make a lunch, brush my teeth and walk (not run) to school or, later on, the school bus stop. With this information I calculated when I needed to get up and when I needed to leave the house. This way I arrived on time and feeling in control rather than stressed out. I did this time deduction regularly. I used it to figure out when I needed to leave the house to meet friend and when I needed to finish my homework if I wanted to watch TV. It became second nature.
Time became something I could manage and make work for me. So when I discovered there was a job which involved figuring out schedules – how much time it would take to finish a scene, how much work we could complete before lunch etc. – well it was a snap. I had to learn many aspects of my job but understanding how to organize time, that came naturally, from years of training.
Thus, what began as a weakness became one of my greatest strengths.