This short documentary is a portrait of Stephen Reid, a notorious member of the “Stopwatch Gang” known for robbing cars, airports, and banks. Reid reflects on the events and choices that brought him to this moment; a moment that causes him to analyze time and has made him acutely conscious of the here and now.
According to Stephen Reid, who’s serving an 18 year prison sentence, when you plan and execute a robbery it means time: whether it means you’re caught and sent to prison or it means you’re shot and killed.
Sexually molested for years by the very men that should have been protecting him, Reid admits he got stuck at age 11 when something was stolen from his childhood. This event changed his sense of time and set him on a pathway of drugs and crime.
Stephen Reid would walk into a bank and just observe people’s schedules and times for hours. During his robberies he always carried a stopwatch hanging from his neck. Reid seldom used it, though because he relied heavily on his internal clock.
After escaping prison repeatedly and getting caught, Stephen Reid found the definition of “escape”: temporary relief from circumstances. In that moment he was compelled to chronicle his past–tell his story.
I think there is an important message here. I sometimes wonder whether I should like to rob a bank. I am convinced of the truth of what Stephen says: that we aren’t living, but we are waiting for something to happen after which we think we’ll be able to do all the things we have always wanted to do. Some are waiting for retirement to come, so that they would be released of the suffering of work for which they hold no interest. And now that people are doing two or three jobs just to make it by, where is the time for leisure and where is our time? It isn’t there. The reason is that we are all donkeys chasing carrots. And even when we realise that we aren’t getting the carrots, we resign ourselves to our fates, for we know that we are owned. The corporations and the businesses own us. We are spectators to our own enslavement. We are the ones –the citizens–who are supposed to own everything(the government runs in our name). But what does the government and the capitalists do: they enslave us. No time for vacations, no time for leisure, and no time for being ourselves–we never reach the top of Maslow’s pyramid. We are incomplete human beings driven from one disaster to the next, for we give our assent to our own enslavement. What a world it would be if we owned our own lives and not corporations? What a world it would be if we would choose to free ourselves from this hell of servitude? If we were to take the power and the property of the hyper rich, we should have the power to reward ourselves the time we need to be ourselves? We aren’t cogs in a machine: we are human beings and it is about time we free ourselves from this slavery? How much are we going to slog so the corporations can rule us ?
I am a teacher. I definitely understand your anguish, which is why I decided to work towards a profession that may pay significantly less, but ultimately brings purpose and function to my life. Without purpose, why live?
That dude spent most of his life on heroin and in prison. I’ll work for the man and take my 4 weeks holidays a year over what he’s done. I do appreciate his honesty and to be honest i really benefited from watching this. But don’t ever fall into the trap of underselling your own life or your own true worth. There is some integrity to getting up every morning and grinding out a days work so that you can live and support the community and also maybe support your family. The male ego makes us do funny things for approval or for a quick high. Please don’t rob a bank :-)
That bank robber knows more about time than me.