Opinion: Who has the time?

by | Sep 27, 2022

By Brian Ricca, EdD

It’s the most precious commodity that I know of. It’s finite and consistent. It’s equal across all humans, across the continent, globe, and planet. We all get twenty-four hours in a day – no more and no less. What we do with our time is how we impact our own lives and the lives of others. One element is for sure, once time has slipped through our fingers, we simply cannot get it back.

That was on my mind recently, as I needed to reach out to customer service to return two products we had purchased for our new home. In deference to the companies, I will not name names. However, I will share the screenshots that I sent to My Wife once the calls were completed.


Two separate calls, both over an hour and a half in length. I will also point out that this was not the first phone call to either company and that a sizeable refund had not yet appeared on our credit card once the returns were received. In both cases, it took me asking to speak to a supervisor in order to get my refund completed. To date, one of the companies still has not made the appropriate refund to our card, even though I was assured it would be taken care of in the next seven to ten business days. As I reflected on the two hundred and one minutes I spent trying to track down my refund, I realized what a privilege it is that I was able to do that. I did not have two hundred and one minutes to spare, but I chose to take that time to work through the various voice prompts, two levels of customer service, and two different supervisors to ultimately be told I would finally be getting our refund. I had the time to take the time. I could make the choice to carve out that time. Even as the I watched the minutes tick away on each call, I was able to continue to hold, wait to be transferred, and listen to mediocre muzak. I was able to give up those minutes during my weekend.

There are many people who do not have that kind of time. They cannot give two hundred and one minutes to customer service. Those minutes have already been spoken for by other priorities in their lives. I recognize my privilege. While I wish I did not have to sacrifice those minutes, I was able to do so. I also know there may still be more minutes in my future, to ensure that the refunds are issued.

The song “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent asks us how do you measure a year, after calculating that there are 525,600 minutes for each of us, from January 1 to December 31. We all have the same number of minutes, and for some, there is more choice than others in how we spend and use that time. I hope we are able to give our time to those who mean the most to us, and that they cherish that gift.

Who has the time?

Brian G. Ricca, EdD, is the superintendent of East Greenwich Public Schools.

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Cynthia Blanthorne
Cynthia Blanthorne
September 28, 2022 7:01 am

I anticipated that this story would be a “call to arms” to support (I.e., consider volunteering at) EG schools, which I believe to be very short staffed. In fact, as I started reading this commentary, I was pondering if I have the time to volunteer at EGSD on a consistent basis (I really don’t).

Time spent on customer service “holds” is likely frustrating for most people. My experience volunteering at EG schools, be it as an EGHS senior project judge or field day activity helper, has consistently left me with a sense of satisfaction.

September 28, 2022 7:22 am

Spend your time buying locally and tell us taxpayers how you are going to make EG schools #1 in RI.

September 28, 2022 8:23 am

Love this piece because it ties in exactly why people want grade realignment in our schools to happen Mr. Ricca.

Who has the time? To take their kids to multiple schools across town when it could easily be one school? Majority of parents don’t.

Time is precious which is exactly why we would also like siblings in the same school for k-5 or 6. Siblings know when they are school with their brother or sister. It brings them comfort seeing them from time to time at school or just knowing they are in the building.

Keep the kids in elementary schools longer & closer to home. We don’t want to be busing our kids across town taking 1 hour from their day and ours just to get our kid to school and pick them up.

East Greenwich is a small town. We want that small town feel for our kids too. I know you just got here Mr. Ricca. I just moved here a little over a year and half ago as well. As I have been observing East Greenwich since I got here (and really since I started looking at real estate before my move) one of the major things that I don’t understand is the grade alignments in the schools. And no one can really explain a good reason for them being the way they are either.

My hope is that you bring change. And some much needed change to our schools that many parents want to see happen. I think the perfect place to start is with the grade realignments being discussed.

Please simplify it back to being more traditional. I would like to give my kid more time & attention instead of using that time to drive them across town to school. I would like my kid to feel like they have more time too. This is the time I wish I could get back everyday and I think you would too.

You have the power to change that. Please use it to get back the precious time that you spoke about because you are right, we can never get that time back.

October 7, 2022 5:13 pm

Yes it is, so why do administrators waste so much of it in meetings and presentations to educate parents about the ricas. Instead of telling us how precious it is in this article, please determine what students are below grade level in everyone of our classrooms, and create a plan. It would be more beneficial to our community than this article


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