By Vincent L. Hall
Old habits are hard to break and new traditions even harder to make, but the time has come for you to Quit Playin’ with mine. My what? My time! Mama taught me that the most disrespectful thing that you can do is play with people’s time. She professes that the only treasure you cannot return to people is their time. If you owe money, it can be repaid. If you offend, you can be forgiven. But once you steal a minute or an hour of my time, there is no way to get it back. Mama also failed to mention how much anger lost opportunities can cause.
Anyone who has been Black for more than a minute knows what “CP Time” is. Even White folks who have bothered to attend two or more events sponsored by Black folk know about it. Three-hour funerals and two-hour weddings are not norms. IJS! CP Time in the hood vernacular refers to “Colored people’s time!” This dated colloquialism refers to the gross negligence or arrogant unwillingness to commit oneself to timeliness and efficiency. The CP Time definition was amended in the Hall glossary. It can also refer to “Caucasian People’s Time.” Since 2016, Trump has been late for press conferences, meetings with international leaders, and his patented klan/campfire/ campaign rallies.
“Lame Duck Donald” masters “La entrada Grande.” For those of you who are bilingually-challenged, that just means “the big or dramatic entrance.” If you have issues with me calling out CP Time, you are more than likely an avid violator. You’re the type that invites someone to meet you at 6, knowing full well that you don’t intend to arrive until 6:45 to 7. Whether it is your wedding, worship service, or dinner party, you regularly misuse and misplace others’ precious time.
CP Time violators casually ask what the rush is about unless the time wasted is their own. Some of us understand the relationship between time and value. Several historians have noted that Malcolm X was a stalwart of timeliness. He arrived early or on time, “by any means necessary!” Punctuality is a staple of stable leadership. When you consider that most of us work eight to 10 hours a day, spend two to three hours in preparation and travel, and require eight hours of sleep or more, that only leaves three to five discretionary hours.
That time should be parsed with necessities like spending time with “significant others,” our children, aging parents, or reading a good book. As one who has no time to waste based on my obligations and my shortened life expectancy, CP Time is a natural enemy. None of my daily and lifelong aspirations are achievable without metering and monitoring my time.
Therefore, I am declaring 2021 QP Time. That’s right; “Quit Playin” Time! QPT means that if your meeting is set for seven, start at 6:55. If the doctor’s appointment is set for 9:00 am, we refuse to languish in the reception area for two hours. No one, professional or amateur, will be considered an exception. Be on time, dammit! Most of us can bear testimony that the old adage, “The early bird gets the worm” is not an old wives tale, it’s wisdom. In this New Year, let’s be considerate of time and efficiency. Don’t take what you can’t replace! Quit Playin’!”
Vincent L. Hall is an author, activist, and award-winning columnist.