I had been waiting on Wally for more than three hours. Wally was coming to fix some shingles on the roof of our weekend cabin. The appointment had been made several weeks ago and then confirmed by text earlier in the week. Everyone in town told me he was the best. Now it was after lunch on a Friday and things were not looking good.
Wally showed up Saturday morning. Things had taken longer than expected over at Old Man Perkins’ place. Cell service is spotty back in the hollow, and Wally ain’t much for calling anyway. In his mind Wally wasn’t late; he was right on time — Mountain Time.
I don’t mean like Eastern or Central Standard Time, some artificial man-made construct. I mean Mountain Time. The time it takes to get things done in the mountains. It’s the natural pace of life that most of us have long forgotten. If you have ever been to Charleston, Beaufort, or Key West, you are familiar with its ocean cousin — Beach or Island Time. Think of Mayberry in an episode of The Andy Griffith Show or of life in 1952, and you are starting to get the idea.
You with your big city newfangled smartphone, laptop, and latte expect things to happen in neatly organized nanoseconds. Ten minute Zoom calls, overnighted contracts, the kids in three sports at once — that’s a you problem. Wally said he will be there, and he is a man of his word. He will be there, and he will fix the roof. He’s just wise enough to know that life is gonna happen between Thursday and Friday. Pretty smart for a guy who only has a high school diploma and an exemplary service record.
It’s we people of the cubicle and SUVs with the problem. We have created a frantic pace of life that takes almost all the enjoyment out of it. We work like dogs all week so we can pack the car and rush to the second home or travel to a volleyball tournament.
Meanwhile, we don’t really know our neighbors. We don’t have time to talk. We have no idea that Old Man Perkins is struggling with cancer and that Wally actually took the time to fix the barn door. We don’t care; we just want the shingles fixed so we can get back to the office.
Mountain Time used to infuriate me. Now I crave it. These are not backward people who haven’t kept up. No, these are people actually living a life of value and purpose in a rhythm and cycle that sustains, not succumbs. The shingles got fixed. Not when I wanted them to, but they got fixed, and they got fixed right the first time. I even paid Wally a little more so he could help Old Man Perkins with that barn door.