Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Automatic Time Machine

If you could have an ATM spit out something other than money, what would it be?

The first thing I thought of when I considered this writing prompt was the conversations I used to have with my children. Though they took place two decades ago, I still remember them well.

“Sorry, we can’t afford it,” I said, when one of my kids asked for something—maybe new jeans, new shoes. Or, maybe they’d asked to go out to dinner instead of staying home to eat tuna casserole again.

Sorrowful whines followed in reply. “Mom, can’t you just write a check?”

“It doesn’t do any good to write a check if there’s no money in the account to cover it,” I replied, umpteen times.

But, my little darlings would not be stifled. “Then how about getting more money out of the ATM?”

I’m not sure exactly when my daughter and son learned that money didn’t grow on trees—that it certainly didn’t magically appear from ATM’s—but eventually they quit asking that question. But until that point, the only thing that powered my patience in repeatedly replying with the same answer was the sheer humor in their innocence.

So, I started daydreaming about this prompt, and it allowed me a bit of that innocence.

What if I could have an ATM spit out anything I want?

I thought long and hard about it, and here is my answer.

Time. But just as an ATM doesn’t spit out single dollar bills, I wouldn’t want it to spit out just any old time. No, I want the “twenty-dollar bill” of time – quality time. The time that comes AFTER the time I waste on the internet, talking on the phone, etc. Unfortunately, like money that is eaten away by expenses that must be paid between paychecks, productive, quality time dribbles away between wasted time.

So why not go to the ATM to get some more? Then, maybe I’d get my book finished. Only problem is, time – especially quality time – like money, is limited and can be easily wasted. Unfortunately, it’s no more possible to “just go to the ATM” for more time than it is for more money.

The innocence was fun while it lasted.

What would YOU like to have from an ATM?

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