Archive for March 2007

Giving more doesn’t help

March 12, 2007

This particular anti-time-stealer hack has parallels with a defensive driving technique I learnt recently. During a driving lesson, I was driving towards a bend in the road with an impatient driver much too close behind me. My instructor gently reminded me (as if I needed reminding) that if I stopped suddenly, her car would almost certainly hit the back of the one I was driving. I followed my panicky instinct, which was to go faster in an effort to make her keep back, even though I was unhappy with my speed because I couldn’t see round the corner. As I came towards the bend, I was suddenly faced with an oncoming car, going too fast on the wrong side of the road. I panicked even more. My instructor braked and we narrowly avoided collision.

“Don’t ever think that going faster will get an impatient driver off your tail,” he said. “They’ll just go faster themselves and stay just as close.” He told me that the correct driving technique when someone’s tailgating you is to slow down to give yourself time to react to what’s ahead and also lessen the consequences if you do have to brake suddenly.

It’s the same with time-stealers. If you run yourself ragged trying to keep up with (or exceed) their demands, they will increase their demands. Victims sometimes make the mistake of calculating that if they usually see a pest once a week for an hour, then seeing them for four hours in one go will buy them three pest-free weeks. The time-stealer will calculate that the victim has agreed to see them for four hours this week, so they must have more time than they claimed. They will expect to see the victim for four hours every week from then on.

Trying to buy yourself future pest-free time by giving a time-stealer lots of time now simply doesn’t work. It’s the social equivalent of speeding up because you have a tailgater behind you. It doesn’t buy you time; it takes time away from you.

Instant redial

March 8, 2007

The quick – sometimes instant – redial is a fairly advanced time-stealing trick. The initial step is to ring the victim and have a conversation where the outcome is that the victim feels let off the hook. If the victim says “I’m busy Saturday… can I ring you next week?”, the pest will say “Yes, of course, ring me whenever you’re free.” The aim is to give the victim a feeling of relief that they have got rid of the time-stealer, if only for a brief time. Really advanced time-stealers will say something like, “Good luck with [something happening in several weeks’ time]”, so that the victim thinks they have gained at least a few weeks of respite.

The pest’s aim is to harness that feeling of relief. So what the time-stealer does is to ring back unexpectedly while the victim is still feeling relieved. Some pests leave it an hour or two; I’ve known people to ring back within thirty seconds. The victim will still be feeling happy and relieved, and will be caught completely off guard when the pest makes a fresh demand to meet up. The other advantage is that they are more likely to answer the phone, because they will assume the call isn’t going to involve any demands on their time – after all, they’ve already said ‘no’ and the pest seems to have accepted that.

The victim is also likely to be feeling warmer towards the time-stealer than they have for some time, which makes them more likely to agree. It’s only later – if at all – that they will realise that the warm feeling that persuaded them into a meeting was only engendered by the pest’s earlier fake acceptance of their refusal of a meeting.

The relationship between a time-stealer and a time-giver, between pest and victim, wouldn’t survive without smokescreens.

Typo of the week

March 8, 2007

An accidentally insightful typo from someone called “kate” commenting on I Blame The Patriarchy:

“Wasn’t Lacan a Freud worshipper? Isn’t psychoanalysis considered a little old hate these days? Just askin’.”