'Zisfere?" the woman behind the cash register said, after I ordered at a fast-food restaurant. Her rising inflection led me to believe she had asked a question.
I asked her, "What did you say?"
She slowed her delivery somewhat. "Isisferere?"
By an intuitive leap, I understood what she asked: "Is this for here?"
I said, "Yes." She gave me the food on a tray.
I sat down with Juniper, my daughter, and we ate. I said, "You need a second language to work in a place like this."
"You do?" she said.
"Yes. Fast English."
I phoned a movie theater recently to hear a schedule, so my wife and daughters could plan their day. I heard a recorded message, whose recorder believed "time is money."
I understood something would happen at 4:25, having to do with hearts, harts, or the way something is heard or possibly with herds. There is no way to interrupt a recorded message to say, "Slow down so I can understand what you're saying."
Laura and our daughters stopped by the theater and looked at the posted schedule.
Often, a living person answers the phone and gives rapid information. A statement that I have not understood leads to a louder, faster rendition. I've already used time, leaving less time in the world, so the answerer rushes through even faster. "Dsrylyhdwrnpnt. Help you?"
People in a rush happen also in friendships. "Hey Jn, seppening? Thing newn yrlf?"
Should I speak faster and louder and wedge my words into conversations so people will have some idea what I'm about?
I don't think I will. Time is not more important to me than meaning.
Of course, the world is too fast-paced for a slow, carefully considered delivery to be practical. Or is it?
Every time I encounter fast English, it costs time, because the delivery has to be repeated. Steady, carefully considered speech or work gains the highest degree of understanding and the highest quality of work completed.
William Blake saw deeply into time and reality. We can "...see a world in a grain of sand/ And a heaven in a wild flower,/ Hold infinity in the palm of your hand/ And eternity in an hour," if we take time for contemplation.
Each moment holds too much meaning to slur it from existence in a rush toward some uncertain moment ahead when the rush is finally over and I have time for meaning to begin.
All I have is now. I'll continue seeing, hearing, touching every moment's meaning in an unhurried fashion.