Whatever happened to me?

“People used to have time to live and enjoy themselves, but there is not time anymore for anything but work, work, work. I was wishing I had lived altogether in those good old days when people had time for things they wanted to do.”

“People used to have time to live and enjoy themselves, but there is not time anymore for anything but work, work, work. I was wishing I had lived altogether in those good old days when people had time for things they wanted to do.”

Familiar complaints until you consider the above words were written in 1920 by Laura Ingalls Wilder!  Flipping through a collection of columns the beloved children’s author wrote before she penned the popular Little House series, I came across one titled What Became of the Time We Saved?

Laura tells of going to a meeting in a neighbouring town by car, taking less than an hour for a trip that used to take three hours by horse and buggy.

“Nearly everyone was late,” she writes, “and all seemed in a hurry. We hurried through the proceedings; we hurried in our friendly exchanges of conversation; we hurried away; and we hurried all the way home where we arrived late as usual. What became of the time the motor car saved us? Why was everyone late and in a hurry? I used to drive leisurely with a team, spend a pleasant afternoon and reach home not much later than I did this time, and all with a sense of there being time enough, instead of a feeling of rush and hurry. We have so many machines and so many helps, in one way and another, to save time; and yet I wonder what we do with the time we save. Nobody seems to have any!”

If Laura longed for the good old days before modern conveniences ate up all our time, what possible hope is there for us a century later? What happened anyway?

Studies used to predict that if we kept inventing work-saving devices at the rate we were, by the year 2000 we would only be putting in four hour days and coming home to relax in a house that did all the housework for us at a touch of a button. It’s true hardly anyone works 40 hours a week anymore. These days most people work 80 hours. Even when we’re off work we’re still linked by an umbilical cord of cellphones and computers.

Perhaps what we failed to realize was all these devices would take a great deal of time and money to create, more time and money to pay for and even more time and money to maintain and upgrade.

Are the dishwashers, microwaves and computers really worth it?

Do we really need to spend a week’s wages on a robotic vacuum cleaner to do a task that only takes us 15 minutes the old-fashioned way?

Laura writes about how her husband, Almanzo, arrived home one afternoon proudly packing a brand new butter churn that brought butter in only three minutes, while Laura’s old wooden dash churn took half a day.

The new churn was fast, but it was also difficult to look after. The screws that loosened the blades so they could be taken off for cleaning never wanted to loosen and Wilder would inevitably cut herself on the sharp tin when she was removing them.

Over and over she asked Almanzo to bring the old wooden churn down from the rafters in the barn. Over and over Almanzo told her that the new churn could bring butter in only three minutes. Three minutes!

Finally Laura stood in front of him with bandaged hand and demanded he fetch her old churn.

“But the new one brings butter in only three . . .”

“The new one is broken,” Laura interrupted.

“What happened?” asked Almanzo.

“I dropped it,” Laura said.  “Just as far as I could.”

Laura confesses to her readers how, in a final fit of rage, she picked up the churn, carried it to the back step and flung it down the hill to the creek, only to run after it and give it a couple well placed kicks for good measure.  Maybe that’s what we need to do with all of our time-saving devices.

Time is everything. Yet, it is nothing at all.

Shannon McKinnon will be away until the week of Oct. 10. In the meantime we hope you enjoy these previously published columns.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The wind has been gusting Friday, March 5 in Williams Lake with the risk of a thunderstorm in the forecast for later in the afternoon. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
More than 500 customers in Cariboo without power, risk of thunderstorm Friday afternoon

The BC Hydro map is adding more power outages as the afternoon unfolds

International Women’s Day is March 8. (Internationalwomensday.com)
International Women’s Day 2021: #choosetochallenge

International Women’s Day is marked annually on March 8

The OT Timber Frames Ltd. crew of Wacey MacDonald (from left), Sean Empey, Josh Douglas, Kurt Leuenberger, Ruedi Baumann, Simon Gansner, Annie Murray (in front) and Josie the dog stand in front of a newly constructed timber frame outdoor classroom for the 150 Mile House Elementary School. (Photo submitted)
The Fox Mountain Trail Network will undergo a significant machine- and hand-built upgrade thanks to a $253,000 grant from the province’s Rural Economic Recovery program. (Scott Horley photo)
Major Fox Mountain bike trail upgrade project slated to begin this May

A machine-built downhill trail, along with an improved uphill route, are part of the project

Four projects in Williams Lake have received Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program funding. (City of Williams Lake photo)
$1.35 million CERIP funds going to projects in Williams Lake

Mayor Walt Cobb thanked the province for its investment in the community

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
B.C. dentists and bus drivers want newly-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Most Read