Friday, August 26, 2016

Be there in one hour

Twice in the first 20 minutes of Jason Bourne characters call for meetings "in one hour." Later in the movie, Bourne himself calls another man and tells him to be at "Paddington Plaza in 15 minutes." I didn't notice anyone looking at watches, computers, phones or clocks on the wall to see what time it was now so they would know what time the meeting would be. Yet everyone was on time for each of those meetings.

It's only a movie, as Alfred Hitchcock liked to say, yet even in real life one sometimes encounters strange ambiguity with regard to time. Have you ever seen a sign on the door of a small shop that says something like "Back in 30 minutes"? Of course, you just got there and have no idea if the sign was posted one minute ago or 29 minutes ago.  Should you wait, leave and come back later or just leave and forget about it? Small businesses need every customer they can get, so you might think those minding the shop would want to be more specific about when they will return.

And as for those espionage types in Jason Bourne, you would think, with lives on the lines, they would want to be very specific about the times of their meetings, 2 p.m., say, or 1400 hours. A meeting "in one hour" suggests to me a meeting that will start whenever everyone gets there. No rush. Yet the movie is a constant rush.

An old friend is coming to my house today "around 3 o'clock." He may arrive a few minutes earlier or an hour later. No big deal either way. But it's a social call, not business and certainly not the CIA.

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