A “Developing” Story


Brent CannonI have entered the world of the surreal. The world of fuzzy math – and where the debate of what the definition of “is” is.

How long is an hour? To me – it is 60 minutes. It is how long it takes the big hand to go once all the way around the clock. But in some circles, I guess this is not the case. Over the weekend I took some film to be developed. I wanted one-hour service. They have special envelopes for this, and you have to hand the envelope directly to the lab technician. I did all of that at 9:30 in the morning. I then went to run some errands. I returned at noon – two and a half hours after I had dropped the film off. In my mind, I had given them an extra hour and a half to develop my pictures. But to my surprise, my film had not been processed yet. The young man at the counter said they were backlogged from the night before. I understand. Sounds like they got overloaded. Fine with me. But then I asked how much they would charge me when my pictures were finished. He said they’d charge the one-hour developing price. I said, “But you didn’t get them developed in an hour.” This where things started getting weird. He said, “Well, an hour doesn’t really mean an hour. One hour is the same as, say, three hours.” WHAT? An hour is an hour – not some nebulous time to be determined later. I said, “You are right. One hour is the same as three hours, except for the additional two hours.” What kind of logic is this guy using?

Think of the ramifications of changing how long an hour is. Think of it. The wicked witch flips the ‘hour’ glass – and tells Dorothy she has an hour – give or take 5 or 6 – to hand over the red slippers. If they are not off her feet by, oh say, some time later this afternoon – there will be dire consequences. To me, it just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Not the same urgency or drama to it. An hour is an hour. If the witch was “an hour is an hour” person – but the Scarecrow is “an hour is whenever” person – Dorothy and Toto might have been turned into flying monkeys!

I mean, if the store can’t develop the film in an hour – they have to change the sign. Instead of saying “One Hour Developing” – it would have to say “Some Time Later Today Developing” – or “When We Can Get To It Developing.” Or they would have the make an adjustment to the sign – like it could say, “One hour (or so) Developing”. Or – “One Hour* Developing” with a disclaimer – (one hour is defined as at least 60 minutes – but also could be up to and including any amount of time we deem appropriate – which could be within the same day – or not).

Remember, I had to hand the special envelope to the tech. That would have been the perfect time for him to tell me they were backlogged and there would be no “one hour” service that day. Or they could have apologized for the inconvenience, and could have offered to charge me the regular developing fee.

All of this leads to another dilemma. I asked when the pictures would be ready, and he said, “Oh, in two or three hours.” Ok – A.) two or three additional hours would be about 5 hours since I dropped my film of for ONE hour developing. B.) How long is two to three hours? Is his definition of that like it is for one? If I come back in three hours will he say, “Three hours isn’t really three hours?” C.) I understand the poor tech being overloaded with work, but that’s the store’s problem – not mine. They make a promise to the customer, and have to live up to it, or make some concessions.

I know I won’t get any sympathy from Scott McGrew. The debate over the definition of “one hour” will go in one ear and out the other. He’ll ask, “Brent, why are you still shooting on film?” The reason is because the batteries died on the digital camera.

I will keep you posted on this “developing” situation.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

PS – I have an update. I went back 7 hours after my original drop off time. Somebody else was at the counter by then. She recognized an hour as an hour – and gave me the cheaper price.


2 Responses to “A “Developing” Story”

  1. stephanie Says:

    I hear ya on the time thing. I think of massages. You book an hour massage and end up getting a “50 minute hour.” What’s with that? I want 60 minutes dang it. If you allow for clothes changing etc. then tell me that when I book it and we’ll do a 70 minute hour. Sheeze.

  2. Michael Phariss Says:


    My wife and I watch your team every morning and I try to read the team’s blogs when I get the chance. I am a full time student currently enrolled in online classes for business school. The assignment this week for my Critical Thinking class was to read a story on a news website and discern the credibility in the argument posed by the author; so after hearing about today’s blog I chose your story to be the topic of my assignment.

    To make this response as short as possible, I agree with your position and have had my fair share of “time” being an ambiguous, specifically semantic ambiguity. I find it ironic and, in the same instance, hilarious that in a society so dependent on time — everything necessitating the adherence to specific schedules — the use vagueness and ambiguity still thrives. At least we can sleep easy knowing that if your vehicle is on the street when street sweeping starts, you’ll get a ticket.

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