Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A distinction between timing and timely (from Bubba's journal - Wednesday, October 2, 1991)

An individual peripherally connected to me on the basis of the difference in our status in a particular group, after correctly concluding, as a result of his having observed me without my being aware of it, that I desperately needed help (in every aspect of the word), called me and asked me what could he do to make a difference in my condition. He left no room for me to doubt his sincerity or his willingness to surrender any, and all, that was reasonably in his power to give.

I was taken aback both by his generosity and his perceptiveness. I couldn't bring myself to ask him for any more than the bare minimum of my immediate needs, which amounted to $2.00. He immediately forked over the $2.00. But he also just sort of "hung around," and before very long he had allowed himself to be asked for at least an additional $10.00, to which he promptly and ungrudgingly complied.

It was during accompanying conversation that he made it quite clear to me that it was the high esteem in which he regarded me, based on good things that he had heard others say about me, that had motivated him to treat me as he had. Along with others present on that lot, we spent a couple of hours or more talking. We learned that there were quite a number of people that we commonly knew, both in and out of prison.

During the following couple of weeks, we periodically came into contact with each other. Because I actually didn't have money to offer him as "payment of appreciation," none was offered, and he gave no indication whatsoever that any was expected.

Today, however, after two weeks, I happened to be in a position where I could, and did, hand him $1.00 as an "appreciation payment." He was surprised. He accepted that $1.00 as if it was $20.00, and folded it over a stack of bills that would easily amount to $100.00.

He then stated that he had not expected any money from me. But that that dollar had increased his respect for me significantly. Now, I was surprised. But it soon dawned on me that after two weeks, he had wrongly thought that I felt entitled to the money that he had so kindly given me, and he was willing to accept that.

The dollar that I gave him had the effect that it did because of its "timeliness."

Had two more weeks been allowed to pass before I was in position to give him that dollar, it is a safe bet that the entire payment would have been viewed differently. Instead of seeing it as me giving him that $1.00 at my earliest opportunity/convenience, it is quite likely that he would have viewed it as I saw myself as enjoying the position that I could pay him back, if at all, at my leisure. As if I was indeed entitled to it based upon my superior status in our relationship.

He would have accepted the money alright. But with the attitude that he would have been a fool to turn any money down. But I would never get the kind of consideration from him that I got the day he spent that money on me.

Timing and Timely.

It seems to me that as close as these two words are in meaning, "timely" seems to be more susceptible to human control. While, on the other hand, "timing" seems more spontaneous, more under the control of natural forces.

I had nothing to do with when I gave him that dollar. I had no idea about whether it was timely or not. But he perceived it as timely. Had I been trying to time it, the result may have, probably would have been, disastrous.

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