Time is Precious, Guys! [Archives:2001/27/Focus]

July 2 2001

Silver Lining
Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi
[email protected]
It is a common belief that respect for time and adherence to punctuality is one of the major ingredients of success and prosperity of the advanced world. It is this ethical norm that has brought about the welfare of these nations. This is because the concept of time is a very important factor that keeps us on the track of success, either at the national or the individual level. Time is precious and valuable and hence people have to utilize every moment effectively and in a proper way. Respect for time and consideration for punctuality means a lot for any nation or individual. It means that people perceive time as a very important element in the realm of productivity and their welfare. In short, it means that these people are productive and active members of the society. Furthermore, it is an indication that every person has something to do with the society and its development. They are all involved in the development process. However, they don’t work till they drain off their energy. Rather, they never miss their vacations and use them in a way so that when they are back to their work, they are more energetic and full of life. They give everything its due right and always keep it balanced.
Unfortunately, in Yemen it is only a few who are punctual and who respect time. Just pay a visit to any government office. You will be, of course, appalled. Employees just come to the office and sign at 8: 30 in the morning. Then, they go for breakfast. They come back after some time and keep hanging around in the Ministry offices. Therefore, if one has something to be done, he/she has to go around looking for the person in charge. You might meet him. But he will tell you to come tomorrow or the day after or give any other baseless excuse. This is the case of the ordinary employees. But the high ranking officials might attend office at 10 or even 11 in the morning and stay for some time and then leave. While being in the office, their doors are shut and guards are standing there as statues preventing any one to meet this or that guy.
Well, this is the daily routine one almost finds in all ministries’ offices. It is an acute headache, isn’t it? Every employee considers himself a sultan in his office since the sense of accountability is entirely absent. It is an irresponsible behavior that makes our work very much bureaucratic.
Another interesting point is this. I have always attended press conferences, workshops, seminars and other kinds of such stuff. I have never found that even a single seminar or meeting has started as scheduled. They might announce, for instance, that the event will start at 10 o’clock. You have to expect that it will start at around 11 o’clock. Sometimes, you might have an appointment with a person he might keep you waiting for a long time, which is actually very worrying. He might not even call and apologize. If you blame him the next time you meet for not keeping his word. He might simply say “SORRY.” What a curse!
Besides, even a few foreigners working in Yemen who are supposed to be our role models in this respect seem to have adopted the Yemeni way in not respecting time. In other words, these people have adopted the Yemeni way of not giving much attention to the value of time. This is disturbing too.
More paradoxically, we always seem to be fully preoccupied and busy. We are busy at work, at home and everywhere. The result is that we produce nothing tangible or fruitful. This, of course, doesn’t mean that there are no hardworking and punctual people in our society. On the contrary, there are some highly hardworking people who go to the other extreme in their adherence to hard work and time utilization. Sometimes hard work is tiring but it is very interesting and makes one enjoy life. In fact, hard work never hurts.
Finally, I believe our neglect for value of time and punctuality is one of the main reasons for being backward. Time is very important and precious. It is only when we spend the work time at work that a real growth in the society can take place. Do you think so? I do!