Six Months at Red Lights

I just read an amazing statistic. The average person spends six months sitting at red lights. Few things are more irritating to me than gunning toward a yellow light only to have it turn red just as I get there. I know… I shouldn’t do that, but I’m sure I’m not alone. Where I live, I’ve observed a lot of folks running red lights. I wonder if they do that to lower the average from six months. I would say, “Kudos to them,” but I’m guessing that wouldn’t be kosher. Still, less is more.

Many years ago, a friend of mine inadvertently lowered the average on this banal statistic. He was trekking home from college during the Christmas holiday and traversed a small town he had driven through dozens of times. As he headed down Main Street, a local gendarme pulled him over because he had gone through a red traffic signal. My friend was flabbergasted. He hadn’t realized his malfeasance.

Lowering the Average  

Then he noticed that the town, with its holiday decorations, had strung a series of Christmas lights across the street that coincided with the traffic signal. The red light in the center simply blended in with the rest of them, and he just didn’t notice.  It was an expensive way to lower the human average, but lower it he did.

There are a lot of other mundane things in life that take up much of our time. For instance, we spend a third of our lives sleeping. Just think of the things we could accomplish if we didn’t have to do that. There are those, of course, who find this to be their favorite pastime, but the rest of us simply look at it as a necessity. If I live to be seventy-five years of age, I’ll have spent twenty-five years asleep. It’s not a total loss, I suppose. I’ve become pretty good at it.

Then there’s eating and drinking. On average, we Americans spend sixty-seven minutes per day chowing down. If you’re like me, you actually enjoy this time—a bit too much, actually. If you total up our time munching and imbibing, you’ll find that (on average) we spend 32,098 hours in the pursuit of food and drink.

The Unmentionables

Of course, there are the unmentionables (one of which I will mention here). We spend one hour and forty-two minutes per week “on the toilet.” That’s only an average, of course. Some of us are much more leisurely about it. It ain’t called “the library” for nothing. Ninety-two days of an average lifetime are spent on this activity.

I could go on, but you get the picture. One wonders how we find time for any enjoyment in life after we’ve accomplished all the routine inevitabilities. I guess that’s why it’s a plus to be one of those folks who is easily amused. This might be why the author of Ecclesiastes said, “Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Lifespans were much shorter in those days—no extra time for fun.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

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