Three years. That’s how much time your average man spends on the toilet over the course of his lifetime, according to a British survey taken just two years ago. Not surprisingly, ladies tend toward efficiency in this area and only waste (heh) a total of six months in the loo. Perhaps it’s best to put down your Sports’ Illustrated and focus on the task at hand, gents. Besides, we’ve got about 3 years of our lives we need to spend getting ready in the morning and we need that bathroom mirror so hurry it up in there!

The point of that little survey is, I imagine, to encourage people to reflect on how their lives might be different if they spent less time primping, pooping, or procrastinating and focused on the important things. While I don’t usually ponder the amount of time I give to various routines, it occured to me that I’ve spent a good chunk of my life in pancake houses of the international variety. I got my first fix as a teenager with a pathetic social life and a crippling fear of discipline. Sure, dad might be pissed I snuck out to spend time with one of my two friends but hell, the only addictive substances I consumed were bad coffee and maple syrup so as far as the sin scale goes, I’m golden. In college, my need for thick french toast and free WiFi grew to become a regular Saturday morning* habit. True, other coffee houses have competed for my attention, what with their caramel machiattos and espresso charged french roast, but for 3am “i-have-a-25-page-paper-due-in-6-hours-and-i-need-breakfast”, there’s no comparison.

It was in one of these fine establishments that I recently found myself waiting on a ride…for 4 hours…you know who you are. With my second pot of watery coffee in front of me and a serious case of the jitters, I put down my pen (I couldn’t hold on to the damn thing anyway) and struck up a conversation with the local pancake bus boy. I had been writing for some time by then and he asked if I was doing homework.

Me: Nope. I’m done with school.

LPBB: Oh really? That’s great. What do you do, then?

M: I’m a teacher. I teach college English. (So I exaggerated a little. Bite me.)

LPBB: Oh really? That’s great. You look young.

M: I’m older than I look. I’m almost 30. (So I was fishing for a compliment. Again. Bite me.)

LPBB: Oh really? That’s great. Do you like what you do?

M: Yeah, I love it. (So I haven’t taught a day of class yet.  You know what to do.)

LPBB: Oh really? That’s great. It’s important to do what you love. As long as you spend your time doing what you love, that’s all that matters.

That, while piling dirty dishes, half-eaten food, and backwashed drinks into a germy plastic tub to take back to the kitchen for cleaning. At midnight. Having just started his shift.

I wonder how much time I’ll spend over the course of my life bitching to people about how much I hate my job, my hair, my body, my car, etc. Just think what I could do with all that time and energy saved by just being happy with where I am, as I am. I mean, if the midnight bus boy in a run-down, skanky pancake house can stay positive, the least I can do is attempt the same. Maybe then I’d find time to strike up more conversations with random sages in dirty aprons.

*Morning is here defined as the hours immediately following my being woken to the blast of the tornado siren testing. Outsiders will note that these tests are performed every Saturday precisely at noon.