Time and Distance

by Nursetopia on September 14, 2011

"bicycle wheel" by Rego-d4u.hu via Flickr

During my impromptu lunch with Larry* – a homeless man who is no longer a stranger to me – he asked, “So, do you live nearby?” No, I actually live about 25 minutes away. He chuckled. “25 minutes, huh? 25 minutes for who? It would take me much longer to get there. Why does everyone measure distance in time and not miles?”

[Pause]

I learned earlier in the conversation that Larry saved an entire year to buy a bicycle. An. Entire. Year. (I hope Larry pops in your mind the next time you think a panhandler is going to “squander” your change on drugs or alcohol.)

I never thought of that, Larry. You’re right. And, honestly, I have no clue how many miles it is from here to my home.

Interesting, huh? I have listened with Larry’s perspective as other people explained distance in units of time in numerous other conversations, too. It is absolutely cultural, and Larry made me much more aware, contributing to my cultural competence. How do you measure distance in your every day life?

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*Worth mentioning again: Larry is not his real name.

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