“I won’t be late; It’ll just take a minute to finish this call.”
How many quick little jobs have to be done in one day? Nothing major, nothing earth shattering, nothing particularly fun or interesting. Only the briefest little tasks that “Just take a minute.” I can fill days; an entire week, with one task after another. Each one, I promise will, “just take a minute.”
And it’s true. Every little task does take only a minute. BUT there are dozens of them. It reminds me of a line in the old children’s book about cats by Wanda Gag: “Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats.” That’s how many “It’ll just take a minute” jobs there are to do all the time every day. Am I the only person who rejoices when an answering machine picks up my call instead of the person I am calling? When I speak to a machine I can leave my message without having to go through the time-taking task of inquiring about the wellbeing of everyone in the family.
From the point of view of the person waiting for someone else, I remember my mother calling us for dinner. If one of us yelled down from an upstairs bedroom,
“I’m ready. I just have to wash my hands.” She’d answer,
“You JUST? If you JUST, then you’re not ready. Don’t waste my time with your “justs.”
And if someone said,
“Alright, I’m coming.”
When I was a young child I always thought that two minutes were longer than fifteen minutes. Because my father would leave us in the car with my mother, while he did his errands. He’d dash out of the car saying,
“I’ll just be two minutes.”
It was always at least fifteen. So naturally, rather than think daddy would ever exaggerate or fib to us, I learned the math lesson that two was greater than fifteen. The expression “I’ll just be a minute” actually means any time from a minute to an hour. This information should be widely disseminated. Then the next time someone says, It’ll just take a minute, the listener can go shopping, take a nap, or fill the gas tank.