Why is it that if we are waiting for take-away food or a prescription or a table at a restaurant and the person working there says “about 20 minutes?” we tend to get a little bit outraged. Twenty minutes? Did she just say TWENTY minutes? This place wants an extra twenty minutes of my valuable time? I’m upset! I could do any number of things in 20 minutes – fall in love, see France, write a novel – WHY ARE YOU TAKING THESE THINGS FROM ME!?
The difference is if they say “fifteen minutes”. Fifteen minutes? Sure. That’s manageable. Fifteen minutes doesn’t seem like much time... only three intervals of five minutes which flit by all the time – twenty, however, forget it.
Why is that?
Like if I’m late. I’m running through the house furiously grabbing most things on the way out in the hope that it’s the item I need only stopping to check the time and noticing – oh... I’ve got twenty whole minutes – that’s loads of time. I don’t need to worry about hurrying. In fact, I could paint my toenails or knit a scarf in that time! Bah!
If I look and it’s fifteen minutes – just five less – holy crap! I’ve only got fifteen flipping minutes to get to work! I’ll never make it! Even if I just close my eyes and just keep driving through red traffic lights, cyclists and wildlife I’ll never get there in time! Eeeeeeee!!
It seems weird that twenty minutes seems like a long time but fifteen minutes seems like no time.