We do NOT all Have the Same 24 Hours!
8 Factors that Affect How People Experience Time
If we interpret it literally, we all have twenty-four hours on the clock. But saying we all have the same twenty-four hours is like saying we’re all in the same boat when it’s obvious we’re not. There are those traveling through life in yachts, and there are those who are paddling leaking rowboats and frantically bailing water to stay afloat. I cringe when people say, “We all have the same 24 hours every day; it’s how we choose to use it.” That privileged statement turns a blind eye to how very different lives can be, with many disparities rooted in socioeconomic differences. Believing we all have the same 24 hours is a very privileged idea. Here are eight examples of why we don’t all share the same 24 hours.
If you own a car that runs regularly, you get an additional two hours in your day. Have you tried to navigate your way to work, the doctor’s office, or run errands using the bus system? It’s not easy. If you have to take car seats and kids along with you or have a disability, the logistics, time, and energy expenditure become mind-boggling.
Is there an affordable grocery store within a two-mile distance from your home? It’s something I take for granted, but there are many areas in Tulsa where there is no grocery store within two miles, and then we’re back to number one. Do you have to use public transportation to get to the grocery store, and if so, that will limit how much you can get at a time. If the only grocery store you have access to is a convenience store, your money won’t go as far. (Fortunately, a new grocery store recently opened in Tulsa that is helping alleviate one food desert. Oasis opened May 17th in the heart of North Tulsa!)
3. Single parenting
If you have a partner who shares the workload with raising kids and running the home, you have gained at least a couple of hours a day. When I re-married after ten years of single parenting, I was shocked at how much easier my life was with a partner who shared the workload. Suddenly, there was another adult who mowed the lawn, helped with homework, and ran errands. Having a two-parent family adds hours to the week!
4. Multiple jobs
If you work a minimum wage job, there is a good chance you have to work two jobs to make ends meet. Working two jobs means more daycare, sleep deprivation, and higher stress levels. I’m not good at math, but I can figure out that someone who works between 12 to 16 hours a day has fewer hours for other tasks. Working two jobs also lessens the chance you have benefits such as health care insurance, vacation time, or sick time.
If you have disposable income, you gain hours in your day by hiring services such as yard work and housekeeping. Maybe you buy meals that are already partially prepared or eat take-out food a few times a week? Those are big things, but some of the time-saving luxuries are so small you probably take them for granted. Do you have a washer and dryer, Internet connection, hot water, and electricity in your home? If you don’t have them, it is a source of significant time expenditure.
6. Health Care
Health care in America is challenging for those without financial means. When I need to go to the doctor, it’s a simple process. I make an appointment, get in my car, and go to the office, where I present my insurance card and get treated by a physician. I am very aware it’s not that easy for many people. If you don’t have health care insurance, you will most likely have a much more challenging search to find a doctor. If you live one paycheck away from being broke, you can’t take time off work to find medical treatment. For the ten years that I was a single mother, I had no health care insurance. I lived in fear of the financial devastation one accident or illness would bring. There are many reasons for a 10-14 years gap in life expectancy between the poor and the rich in America, and access to medical care is a significant factor.
If you are experiencing homelessness, your time is spent trying to accomplish the basic daily tasks of staying safe, finding shelter, and finding food. It becomes a full-time job to meet daily survival needs, especially if you have children.
8. Disability or Illness
If you or your child have a disability, chronic illness, or chronic pain, you may spend hours each day dealing with the complications associated with those issues.
While we all share the same clock, various factors determine the way we must use that time. No, we don’t all have the same twenty-four hours, and we’re not in the same boat. Sometimes the view from a yacht can be blurry. If we can help someone else paddle their canoe for a while, it might give us another perspective.