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Stop the Clock

I'm a member of a generation that is very concerned with saving time but often unaware of why
we're doing it. Like many, I'm nervous and jittery without a wrist watch and a daily planner. I am one
of a growing number of students who are completing college in three years instead of four-
cramming credits in the summer. We're living life on fast-forward without a pause button.

In my freshman year, my roommates and I survived on Chinese takeout, express pizzas and taco
take-home dinners. We ate lunch while walking to class. Every day seemed an endless picnic as we
ate with plastic utensils and paper plates.

It was fast and easy - no washing up. My girlfriends and I talked about our mothers and
grandmothers, models of domesticity, and pitied them. We didn't see the benefits of staying at
home, ironing clothes and making spaghetti sauce when canned ones were almost as good and
cleaning service were so convenient. A nearby store even sold throwaway underwear. "Save time,"
the package read. "No laundry."

We baked brownies in 10 minutes in the microwave and ate the frosting from the can because we
were too impatient to wait for the brownies to cool. For a while we thought about chipping in and
buying a funky contraption that makes toast, coffee and eggs. All you had to do was put in the raw
ingredients the night before and wake up to the smell of sizzling eggs, crispy toast and rich coffee.

It seems that all the kids I know are time-saving addicts. Everyone on campus prefers E-mail to
snail mail. The art of letter writing is long gone. More of us are listening to books instead of reading
them. My roommates last year jogged while plugged in.

My near-sighted friends opt for throwaway contacts and think the usual lenses are tedious. A
roommate prefers a sleeping bag so she doesn't have to make her bed. Instead of going to the
library to do research we cruise the Internet and log on to the Library of Congress.

It isn't as if we're using the time we save for worthwhile pursuits like volunteering at a soup kitchen.
Most of my friends spend the extra minutes watching TV, listening to stereo, shopping, hanging out,
chatting on the phone or snoozing.

When I visited my aunt last summer, I saw how happy she was after baking bread or a cake, how
proud she seemed whenever she made a salad with her homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers. Why
bother, when there are ready-made salads, ready-peeled and -cut fruit and five-minute frosting?

Once, when I went shopping with her, she bought ingredients to make a birthday cake for her
daughter. I pointed to a lavish-looking cake covered with pink roses. "Why don't you just buy one?" I
asked. "A cake is more than a cake," she replied. "It's the giving of energy, the thought behind it.
You'll grow to understand."

Slowly, I'm beginning to appreciate why my aunt takes pleasure in cooking for her family, why the
old man next door spends so much time tending his garden. He offered me a bag of his fresh-
grown tomatoes. "They're good," he said. "Not like the ones at the supermarkets." He was right.

My generation has all the technological advances at our fingertips. We're computer-savvy, and we
have more time. But what are we really saving it for? In the end, we may lose more than we've
gained by forgetting the important things in life.

Source: What Do You Think 2

What Does It Mean

1. throwaway underwear
2. A cake is more than a cake
3. My generation has all the technological advances at our fingertips.

Comprehension Check
1. How have lifestyles changed in recent decades?
2. What are the benefits of having modern time-saving technology at our disposal?
3. What seem to be the disadvantages?
4. List at least five examples of questionable time-and-energy-saving habits from the essay.

Let's Talk!
1. Do you think it's a waste of time to wash the dishes, garden, and do other domestic chores?
2. Do you often eat instant food when you're busy?
3. Do you think it's OK to let your children eat instant food?
4. Would you hire a maid for household chores if you could afford it financially? Or would you
do them by yourself?
5. What's the difference between writing letters, using E-mail, and making phone calls?