There’s too much time for some

By Steve Estes

Anyone who has talked to me for more than 60 seconds (and actually listened to the words being said in return) has probably heard my 15-second diatribe on “people with too much time on their hands.”

I won’t bore you giving it here, but perhaps I can give you a quick glance at the things that send me into that diatribe on a routine basis.

The other morning a client/acquaintance of ours made an off-hand comment to someone about washing a deer. Almost instantly, the phone was ringing with people asking him how dare he use synthetic soaps on deer, and how dare he take it upon himself to wash deer anyway. They knew when they needed cleaning and would be fine until that time came.

Now had these folks bothered to take 15 seconds from their busy “trying to find ill in others'” schedule, they might have bothered to find out that the deer were stuffed, and or plastic, were perfectly legal, and that they were being prepped to be sold for a charity auction.

Too much time.

Another example is of a lady we met who had recently arrived in the Keys, and to her defense, she hadn’t gotten nearly enough exposure to the culture, or lack thereof depending on your point of view, and felt like she wanted to make a difference in her community.

Now when many of us who moved here for more than real estate profits talk about making a difference in our community, we’re speaking of planting trees, perhaps clearing invasives, removing navigable hazards, picking up other people’s trash from the sides of the road, or other projects that will benefit both us and our neighbors.

The “too much time on their hands coalition” however, talks about things such as asking the homeowner’s association where they live to consider asking everyone to put up the same type mailbox, or prep their driveway entrances in the same fashion, or perhaps (get ready for this one you liberal types) paint their homes the same generic family of colors.

When I hear these things, I’m actually reminded of myself in my younger days. No, I never had time to worry about what color someone else’s house was painted, or whether their mailbox was a wood or metal stand, but I was one of those youngsters that finished tests early in school and this gave me more than ample time to think myself into pitfalls.

That thinking usually led to such inane stunts as throwing on my roller skates and racing through the halls, or planting firecrackers under the toliet seats in the girls locker room (when no one was around) or getting together with buddies and turning cars sideways between parking blocks.

All of which, by the way, landed in some form of trouble with the school officials who didn’t count “too much time on my hands” as a valid excuse for that sort of mischief.

I think that’s what we have happening here. People who just have too much time on their hands, are finding non-constructive ways to pass that time.

Of course, we are to blame for most of the cases of too much time. Technology has made life easier, an increasing population has meant more people to do less work, and the result is too much time on the hands of too many people with too little imagination.

This is how we get folks walking the streets of a neighborhood with notepads, marking down potential violations of code at someone else’s home and reporting same to enforcement upon their return home.

Why don’t they take that three hours of utterly wasted time and donate it to the retirement home where there are many who would love to have a couple hours of conversation, or give those few hours to the school to help a struggling student get a handle on multiplication tables, or give those few hours to the local church packaging and sorting food to be delivered to those less fortunate (called the working poor for those of you who seem to have forgotten).

Nah. Instead they wander the streets and byways of our island, looking for some way to change the behavior of their fellow man to make it more in conformance with their own way of thought, or actions.

Just can’t see it folks. If we had all wanted conformity, we would have moved some place like New York or New Jersey where every house looks like every other house, the streets are uniformly dull, the people all dress the same (even those rebelling against the system who all look alike in their rebellion) and the cars match each other about every four years as one brand or model rises to prominence and then fades.

So help me out here. Help me find something for our “too much time on their hands” population to do that doesn’t involve being a pain in anyone’s rear. I know there have to be some really good ideas out there, even from some of the same folks with (Say it quietly) too much time on their hands.

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