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Time Is Money

by Stephen Lautens


August 8, 2003

America, the land of the lawsuit, has set another precedent. A patient has successfully sued his doctor for having to sit around too long in his waiting room.

After the doctor was more than three hours late in seeing the patient for his appointment, Mr. Arisotelis Belavilas filed a lawsuit in small claims court for the wasted time. In a surprise move that has sent U.S. doctors out to check their magazines are no more than four years old, the Nevada Small Claims Court ruled in favour of Mr. Belavilas and awarded him $250 for his three hour delay. The doctor is appealing, but he better hope none of the judges have ever spent any time cooling their heels in a waiting room.

It never occurred to me that you could successfully sue people for the time they make you wait around. This could be the beginning of a whole new career for me. Think of how much you could make in an average day:

8:30 AM - Have to wait fifteen minutes while three packed buses go by. Sue the transit company for $150.

9:05 AM - The Coffee Hut makes me wait "while a fresh pot is being brewed". Eight minutes later I’m suing for $60 and three more punches in my frequent guzzlers’ card.

11:38 AM - The boss is thirty-five minutes late for the staff meeting he called before telling you that it will have to be be rescheduled to Wednesday. Sue him for $300 and another $20 for the free lunch that you cancelled but could have accepted if you’d known.

1:20 PM - On hold for twenty minutes with the phone company listening to a message saying your business is important to them, but not important enough to hire more customer service reps to answer the phone. Then they cut you off and you have to dial again. Sue them for $800, plus another $1000 in punitive damages since they made you listen to Yanni the whole time you were on hold.

3:56 PM - The bank has one teller open just before closing, and she’s busy counting a customer’s lifetime collection of nickels. Sue them for the wheelbarrow full of nickels and a refund of a year’s worth of service charges.

5:39 PM - The person ahead of you in the line at the grocery store has trouble with the concept of "eight items or less", and then tries to pay for their six dozen items with a cheque from the First National Bank of Kazakhstan. Slap them with a lawsuit for $400 and an injunction from giving you dirty looks when you go back to try the free cheese samples for the third time.

7:15 PM - You get a call from a telemarketer while dinner burns on the stove. Sue them for $550 and the cost of two quarter chicken dinners (white meat) from Swiss Chalet.

8:00 PM - Friends is a rerun. Sue the TV station for $75.

9:05 PM - Phone call from someone looking for "Shelly". Sue them for $200 for the wrong number, and for good measure sue the phone company again.

10:30 PM - Wife has a headache. Sue her for aggravated emotional distress, loss of companionship, alienation of affections, and lost opportunity cost. Withdraw the lawsuit when you realize that she is the only Court of Appeal.

On this basis, I figure in an average day my wasted time has got to be worth more than two grand. All I have to do now is schedule a furnace inspection and an oil change, and I could be on easy street.

© Stephen Lautens 2003

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