“That’ll be two and a half hours please.”
“Two and a half hours!?” he interrobanged, “but it only took you 10 minutes!”
“Ah, but it’s not actually the length of time it takes one to do something, but the length of time it took to do the training. It’s all in the guidelines. Paragraph two point three subsection D. “Where a tariff is not directly applicable, the service provider may set their own rate based upon the amount of training they believe they have had.”
“But you’ve only changed a tire! How much training did it take?”
“That sir! Is not the point, could you have done it?”
“Of course I could have done it! A trained chimp, no offense, could have done it.
“Then why didn’t you? Sir!?” the mechanic, with the air of someone who knows he has the other party over a barrel, obsequiously asked.
“Because, I didn’t want to get my bloody dinner jacket dirty! Oh whatever, give me your card.”
The mechanic, now smiling, handed over his debit card and the surgeon held it against the back of his cell phone and deducted two and half hours off his total.
“Thank you, sir. It was a pleasure doing business with you.”
“A few more of these and I’ll be able to earn a holiday,” the mechanic thought.
A grass roots movement of communities began trading their time, rather than money, for goods and services. What started off as a good idea, started to get out of hand when law suits were filed when people didn’t get the hours they thought they were owed. After several hundred of these and the courts having their time wasted over petty civil disagreements, the government stepped in and issued guidelines as to how many hours a certain task and profession was worth. They tried to consider all jobs, but inevitably things slipped through the net and certain caveats were put in place and in the event that an agreement couldn’t be reached and independent ombudsman was placed in each area to deal with these disputes, his time was charged at a fixed rate payable by both parties.
The mechanic forgot all about it and went on his way, charging whatever he felt was appropriate. It was now manual labour workers who were time rich. Bakers could make a three-dozen loaves in three hours, yet could charge thirty minutes for each loaf. Mechanics could charge two hours for a full service and could do it in one. Solicitors, who in a cash society could charge whatever they wanted, could now only charge one hour for a ten-minute letter. Still a nice markup, but at least people weren’t going to the poor house to visit one. Our friend the surgeon was upset because, despite still being very time rich, he didn’t like being ripped off.
The surgeon contacted the ombudsman, and the ombudsman found in favor of the mechanic who once again smiled slyly at the surgeon. Now, fate is a wonderful thing and it wasn’t long before their path’s crossed once again.
“Help me doc.” The mechanic didn’t recognize his mark, with his medical Google Glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, a fresh tan from a Caribbean holiday and holiday beard he hadn’t gotten round to shaving off.
“How much will be cost?” The mechanic asked once he’d received his diagnosis.
“Hmm an appendix operation? Simple enough. Let’s say one hundred hours!”
“One hundred hours!?” it was his time to interrobang. “But the guide says it’s only worth ten hours!”
“But I foresee complications and besides which, could you do it yourself?” He winked at the mechanic.
“Don’t I know you?”
“Please give me your card.”
The mechanic meekly handed it over.
“Thank you, sir, I’ll see to it that all complications are resolved.?
Stuart Carruthers is a sceptical deist, pseudo geek and frog herder. Having escaped British winters he now lives in Taiwan where he shares his house with his wife and two kids. Find his books here: http://www.amazon.com/Stuart-Carruthers/e/B008LR5FRM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1