Echo and Bounce

Quick

Sometimes I wonder how The Flash can stand it. Not only does he have to struggle through life wearing the world’s most ridiculous hat, but he must spend subjective aeons of time forced to watch the rest of us faff.

Imagine you’re Barry Allen, aka The Flash, and you’ve got guests over for dinner. It’s time for coffee and you realize all of a sudden that you don’t have any milk. “No problem”, you think, “I’ll just nip out to the shops and get some”. After all, you sip from the well of the Speed Force, how long could it possibly take?

But on the way down the stairs from your apartment, a large couple have decided to stop on the stair case and have an argument about whether or not they actually did buy bacon when they were out at the supermarket. Now, their conversation takes maybe only fifteen or twenty seconds, but if you can move and react a hundred-thousand times faster than a regular human, then that’s equivalent to almost a month.

Now, I’m not suggesting that the Flash is stuck in a time stream that moves much, much slower than hours and that he is always watching us continentally drift through our lives. But even so, when he’s waiting in line at a supermarket, he could by doing something else. In fact, he could be doing, much, much more. For every instant in his stream of consciousness, he is presumably making a decision to not rush ahead and get all of everyone’s shopping scanned and packed in 7.42s so he can get back to fighting crime or watching Breaking Bad or whatever it is that he actually does. Even if he has some control over how he perceives the flow of time, the crucial thing is that he always knows that he could be going faster if only people would just hurry up a little.

It turns out that I am not a patient man, and that I’m indulging myself by project myself onto DC’s fastest hero, albeit sans hat. I am all in favour of languorous leisure time, but I see no reason why one should dawdle when filling out forms, and can find no excuse for the person who has waited fifteen minutes in a bank queue only to arrive at the teller entirely unprepared for the experience. There is a time and a place to stop and smell the roses, and it is in a rose garden, not in your local branch of Lloyds TSB. When a dozen people behind you are on the last famished legs of their lunch break, more conscious than ever of their mortality, then one ought to push the tempo.

But what an ugly way to live, to be always and ever mildly irked at all the poor souls who haven’t put as much time and energy into learning the fastest way to use a self-checkout as I have. I don’t even have to play the “well, they might have just come from the doctors with terrible news” game to see it’s wrong. While it’s true that you never know what’s going on in someone’s head, and that Fundamental Attribution Error is a real thing, and there is only one true judge, that still doesn’t help me, because that still leaves some people who are slow with no excuse and in my way.

What I need to remember are the people who’ve patiently waited for me to figure things out after I’ve made the same mistake again & again, the people who’ve waiting for me to (literally) stop standing on their feet, to (figuratively) stop making an ass of myself, to realize exactly what it was I just said, to say sorry, for me to be sorry.

This post is part of the Alphabet Supremacy project, a collaboration between myself and Bice Dibley. He chooses next week’s word.