Time Enough at Last

Time Enough at Last was the title of one of the more memorable Twilight Zone episodes. Perhaps you remember it. Harry Bemis was a bank teller whose one passion in life was reading. Unfortunately, he never had enough time to read. The bank president reprimanded him for reading while waiting on customers. His wife did not let him read at home, preferring a more social lifestyle. The only chance that Harry Bemis really had to read was in the bank vault during his lunch hour.

Time enough at last!

Time enough at last!

Bemis’s  habit of spending his lunches in the bank vault saves him when a nuclear war breaks out and he finds that he is the only survivor. He becomes lonely and despondent and contemplates suicide until he discovers the ruins of a public library. For the first time in his life, Harry Bemis has all the books he can read and time enough to read them. He eagerly stacks up the books and plans out in what order he will read them, but just as he picks up the first book, he drops his glasses, smashing them and making it impossible to read anything.

Here are the last few minutes of the episode.

You can watch the whole episode here.

It does sometimes seem as if the whole world is conspiring against us readers. Employers frown at us for reading on the job and actually expect us to work. Friends and family keep telling us to go outside in the fresh air and do various recreational activities that do not involve reading. Spouses expect us to take them places and do things with them, even talk. When they are in a romantic or amorous mood, they expect us to waste valuable reading time with sex.

Modern technology has made things a little better. Audiobooks allow us to “read” while driving or engaging in some activity. If you wear earphones, non-readers assume you’re listening to music. The invention of e-books has helped considerably. A Kindle is portable and easily concealed. We can carry whole libraries around with us to read at odd moments. I find that carrying a Kindle is a lot more convenient that the old method of carrying stacks of books. Even better, Amazon has apps for the iPhone and Android which allow you to read your Kindle books. We can read and non-readers think we are working and texting.

Still, there is never enough time for us readers to read as much as we would like. How nice it would be if there were some apocalyptic event which would destroy civilization. Sure, there would be a death toll in the millions and things would be really awful, but think of all the time we would have for reading.

There is one problem though. If there were a nuclear war or something, I doubt that electricity would be available. Without electricity to charge them, our Kindles, Nooks, and smart phones would quickly turn into expensive paperweights. Then we would end up staring at blank screens muttering, “It’s not fair”, just like poor Harry Bemis.

 

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