St. Peter, wearing a white suit, waistcoat, shirt and tie, sits before The Gates upon a highly decorative Throne of gold; Seraphim and Cherubim and All the Company of Heaven are surrounding him. There is no queue, and as I am drawn closer, a large open book becomes apparent resting across his knees. He looks at it, and runs a finger across the page.
"Alan Charles Burridge."
"Yes," I reply, shaking my head, "but I don't think I'm supposed to be here quite yet."
"Oh yes," he smiled, looking at the entry on the page again. "There's no mistake, and I think you have done more than enough in your life."
"But I saved a lot of time whilst I was living it," I protested, "and by my reckoning, I've got at least another three years left!"
His brow furrowed. "What do you mean, you 'saved a lot of time'?"
"Yes, it's something we try and do; I thought you would know all about it?" I said, losing my patience a bit now. "You see, inventor's invented machines to wash our clothes, before we had them it would have taken half a day; now it takes an hour, or perhaps ninety minutes; and all we do is press a button. And then there's the vacuum cleaner to save time cleaning our homes, too, and the Internet to save us time going shopping; and there are hundreds more. They were invented as labour and time saving devices, and by my estimate I saved about three years; so I shouldn't be here with you yet."
"But it doesn't work like that!" St. Peter protested, as the Seraphim and Cherumbim and All the Company of Heaven fidgeted as if to back up his words.
"Well, that's what I thought it meant," I replied, "but I didn't waste any of the time I saved, so I must go back, I haven't finished doing what I need to do down there yet!"
"No! Sorry! You've got the wrong end of the stick!" he protested again.
"Look!" I said, pointing at him, "I've seen the film with Warren Beatty, what was it called...'Heaven Can Wait'? He was taken too early, and they brought him up here, but it wasn't his time. You made a mistake then, and you're doing much the same now; it's not my time, either, because I saved so much of it down there!"
"No, no, no," he smiled, his head slowly shaking from side to side, "it doesn't work like that!"
"So, how is it supposed to work, then?"
Indeed, with so many labour and time saving devices at our disposal, what do we do with the Time and Energy they save for us?