What is “Quarter past four”?
Is it: 4:25 or 4:15?
Let me tell you, this question was posed to me at the ripe age of 11, I believe. And I failed!
Back in the mid to late 70’s, us kids would walk to school, even kids as young as 5, without parents, cars or friends. We would come home from school, let ourselves in, with the key around our neck, watch some TV! No after school programs or babysitters needed. We could go to the corner store and buy cigarettes for adults too lazy to go to the store. We would play in our yard, go to a friends down the street, eat worms in either yard. We’d take transit by ourselves! That all changed, thanks in part to people like Clifford Olsen and other predators!
Anyways, it was 1979, and my mum made an appointment for me to get my hair cut. She explained that I need to get the bus myself as my older brother and Dad were up to something, probably hockey practice. She would meet us there, she was working hard! I had to catch the bus at quarter past four.
So, my illogical thinking kicked in: Quarter past four, what is a Quarter? Oh it is 25! Yeah that is right! It is going by at 4:25! Okay! Its 4 now, I can watch the Gilligan’s Island!
I can’t remember what time I leave the house, but the bus stop is 2 minutes or less away. I doubt I have a watch. I do know I did not see the 4:15 bus go by.
I am waiting for the bus for what seems like forever, when I decide to walk to the barber shop! I don’t want to be late! So, I walk from our home on Paula Place at the top of Mary Hill, in Port Coquitlam, to Shaughnessy and Elgin streets! I get to the barber shop, eventually!
My Mum is yelling at me:
Mum: CRAIG! DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS? WHERE WERE YOU! We were worried sick!
Me: I walked down.
Mum: Why didn’t you get the Quarter past Four bus?!?
Me: I tried! I was at the bus stop at 4:25. It did not come! So I walked down!
Mum: That is not quarter past 5, that is 25 past five.
Me: Yes, that is what you told me, a Quarter is 25 cents. That means 5:25! I don’t want a haircut!
Mum: You were supposed to get the bus at 4:15!
Sometime later, it was explained to me that Quarter past the hour, means 15 minutes past the hour. I also learned Quarter To means 15 minutes before the hour. I will not explain the rational behind this old saying. I’m tired, you can Google it if you want!
After that, Quarter To and Quarter Past were never uttered in my house again!
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