By Peter Funt
Even baseball purists like myself, who still aren’t comfortable with designated hitters and restrictions on where fielders may be positioned, find themselves overwhelmingly in favor of the new pitch clock.
Requiring pitchers to throw within 15 seconds (20 if there are runners on base) has not only shortened games, it has made the confrontation between batter and pitcher more inherently fair — so much so that the concept should be applied to other aspects of our lives.
Restaurants, for example, need time clocks even more than baseball does, starting at the front desk. Rather than handing out pagers to notify patrons that their table is ready, folks should be given a timer. For every five minutes beyond the promised waiting time, the bill is reduced by two bucks.
Each table should also have a clock, like the one used in chess matches. Your order is given and the server hits the clock — over 20 minutes and it’s half price; beyond 30 minutes and it’s free. The tables would turn, so to speak, when the check arrives. Customers are allowed 15 minutes to dawdle and then, if others are waiting, must depart or pay an additional fee.
The same clock could be used for dinner table conversation, with each person given equal time before interruptions are permitted.
We have some examples of clock management already, such as on the entrance ramps to highways where timed metering lights control traffic during rush hours. Why not install timers for lines in banks or pharmacies?
I’d love to see a big flashing timer in my dentist’s waiting room. For every five minutes spent waiting beyond the scheduled appointment time, cash is extracted from the bill.
It’s possible, however, that people aren’t ready for well-timed efficiency in their lives. Some years ago I conducted an experiment on “Candid Camera” at the Jiffy lube store in Queens, N.Y., where a sign in the window promised an oil change and lube job in just 10 minutes.
On the day we were there, customers in the waiting room were told a minute after they sat down that their cars were ready. Most were stressed by the rapid service. One man, in startled disbelief, said, “It takes me five minutes just to open an oil can!”
There is, I suppose, a time and a place for everything, including time itself.