Americans spend 2 1/2 days each year looking for keys and things

You might have heard about the old fellow who was pushing his shopping cart through Walmart when he collided with a younger guy.

“I’m sorry,” the old fellow said. “I’m looking for my wife, and I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.”

“That’s OK,” the younger guy said. “I’m looking for my wife, too.”

“Well,” the old fellow said. “Perhaps I can help. What does your wife look like?”

“She’s a gorgeous 25-year-old,” the younger guy said. “She has long blonde hair, blue eyes, long legs, and a great figure. What does your wife look like?”

“Never mind about mine,” the old fellow said. “Let’s look for yours.”

Did you realize that Americans spend two and a half days on average each year looking for things? Misplaced car keys, a missing shoe, a screwdriver put away in the wrong drawer, and, of course, spouses who wander away in the department or grocery store.

If we live to 75, we will have spent on average about 26 years sleeping, another 11 years watching TV, and eight years shopping.

It amazes me that folks think it’s important to track the time we spend on such things. But it does give us perspective on what we consider important, because we’ll spend most of our time on the things we consider most important.

The most recent American Time Use Survey shows that Americans spend only between 2 and 17 minutes each day on religious activities such as praying, reading the Bible, going to church, or telling others about Jesus.

Most of us would agree we should spend more time on those activities, regardless of whatever else is demanding our attention and whatever stage of life we’re in.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak, a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

Yes, God has given us ample time for everything. And, although Solomon didn’t specifically say so, I suppose there’s also a time to help a young guy search for his wife in the Walmart store.

Roger Alford offers words of encouragement to residents of America’s heartland. Reach him at