Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Better Late Than Never?

by Annette Dashofy

The population of the world can be divided into two camps. A.)The people who always arrive early and B.)The people who always arrive late.

Is there any wonder why the crime rate is so high? Why wars rage? Why the financial institutions are crumbling? It’s because the person who was early had to wait for the person who was late and went totally postal.

Okay, so maybe some people are always on time, but that is such a small window, I’m willing to bet even those punctual humans lean more to one side or the other.

As for me, I am one of the anal early arrivers. It’s an inherited trait I got from my dad. I certainly didn’t get it from my mom. She’s more of a punctual-leaning-toward-late person. Drove my dad crazy for over sixty years.

Before the late arrivers get in an uproar, let me say, you’ll get your chance to defend yourself in the comment section.

I’m not sure what I did in a previous life, but I seem to be karmically doomed to be surrounded by those who hold no strong attachment to a clock. I arrive someplace ten minutes early. The person (or people) I’m meeting arrives fifteen minutes late. Whenever possible, I arrange these meetings in bookstores so I can at least browse while waiting. Plus, I carry a book in my purse.

So why am I always early? My excuse is that I live so far out in the countryside and it takes me so long to get to places, if I were to encounter traffic or have a flat tire, I’d be late. I’d rather arrive a little early and wait than drive like I was at the Indy 500 in a panicked effort to get there in time.

The idea of being late gives me hives and heart palpitations. Why? Because I don’t want to make someone ELSE wait for me. If they’re fifteen minutes early and I’m ten minutes early, fine. If they’re on time and I’m five minutes late, I feel like I’ve disrespected them.

I guess that’s what irks me about my late friends. (And they are friends and will remain friends. I haven’t stopped liking someone just because they make me wait.) I feel like THEY feel their time is more valuable than mine. I imagine they think I won’t mind sitting on my hands while they finish a few more chores or run an extra errand.

You may say that this is really my problem and my perception of the situation, not theirs. And you’d be right. I’m trying hard to chill out. And I don’t mind if someone is late once in a while. It happens. Even to the early birds like me.

I’m attempting to just accept things the way they are. I know you’re not going to arrive for our 10:30AM meeting until 11AM, so I’m permitting myself to run late, too. Just do NOT get pissed off if you get there first. Welcome to my world!

Okay, here’s your chance. Are you an early bird like me? Or are you one of those who get there when you get there? Do your friends who are always early drive you as nuts as my friends who are always late drive me?

And to our psychoanalytical readers, WHY are some people hardwired to run late and others to run early? Really. I want to know!


Gina said...

Good morning, Annette -
I tend to be early except when I'm late.

Joyce said...

Sometimes I'm early, sometimes I'm late, and sometimes I'm right on time. Not sure what that says about me!

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I'm a punctual person. Now the only way to be punctual is to run a bit early. I hate arriving to somebody's home early or late. If I'm early, I'll find something to do until it's time to arrive. So I guess that makes me an early person? I guess that's the business person in me.

I think I tracked it back to my Catholic gradeschool years. I had a long walk to school and once a week we had to go to early weekday mass. Our priest was the type that would stop praying if you came in late and say, "Mr. Bereswill, it's nice that you could join us." That sucked the tardiness right out of you.

My wife is an early person. My oldest daughter is a fashionably late person, my middle daughter is an early person (most times) and my youngest daughter drives me crazy being an always late person.

Annette said...

Yes, Will, arriving early and then finding something to do until it's time to arrive definitely makes you an early person.

Anyone who walks into my yoga class after we've started knows they run a high risk of being heckled. That does keep the tardiness to a minimum.

And, Joyce, I suspect neither of us will be late next Wednesday morning. I've started to pack already! Bouchercon, here we come!

Jennie Bentley said...

I used to be an always-on-time person, for the same reason as Will; i.e., I always came early so I could arrive on time. (There's a big difference between getting somewhere and arriving, you know.)

These days I seem to be running later, mostly because I've got more to do. I'm not usually late, per se, but I tend to run in at 10:02 with my tongue hanging out panting, "Sorry, sorry!"

I don't mind waiting for people - except for the ones that I feel are doing it because, yes, they can't be bothered with being on time and I'm not important enough to rate punctuality from them - but I still feel bad if I make someone else wait. I don't know why. No Catholic upbringing here, although I can see how that would be an incentive. My mother was usually pretty punctual, so I probably inherited it from her.

Fun post, Annette!

Annette said...

Yes, Jennie, EXACTLY! It's the can't-be-bothered-to-be-on-time people who do it to me! If you're stuck in traffic or get a last minute phone call, that's different.

Anonymous said...

Good topic, Annette! I tend to be just on the early side of on time, but my husband is always late, so he ends up making me late if we're going somewhere. And you can imagine how that goes--we end up squabbling the whole time we're getting to our appointment. I always forget this, but I should tell him the time is earlier so he'll get a move on.

However, being early to meet chronically late friends at a Friday night watering hole 30 years ago led to meeting said husband. I had gotten there on time after work and they weren't there, so I went home and had dinner before going back. When I got backto the bar they were talking to this cute guy, so I ended up having more fun than if I'd waited for them.

This couple, by the way, blamed one another on their inability to be anyplace on time. When they got divorced we found out the truth, that neither of them were capable of punctuality.

If you've read any of Alexander McCall's Ma Ramotswe books you'll know that they talk of another kind of late, which to them is the same as "deceased". No arrivals of any kind in that state!

Karen in Ohio

Anonymous said...

I am usually early.

Maybe it's just because I'm in a cranky mood today, but people who are always late drive me nuts.

Why? Because it's RUDE.

Why do they think their time is more valuable than anyone else's?

Great blog, Annette!

Kathy Sweeney

Annette said...

Well, it seems we're only hearing from us early birds. Those of you who always run late can come on in and offer your side of the story, too. Feel free to tell the rest of us that we need to lighten up and quit watching the clock or whatever arguement you want to use. This is your chance! Speak up and give us your excuses...errr...REASONS for being chronically late!

Jessi said...

Good morning Annie!!

I am a compulsive 5 mins early kinda gal. Drives me nuts when my DH isn't on the same time table I am on. I have learned to tell him things start 30 mins earlier than they actually do - and that has been a decent compromise.

When I was a kid, my father would go on and on about late people and how disrespectful being late can be. Of course he was a drill instructor so he had his own very rigid ideas about "right" and "wrong" or should I say "acceptable" and "unacceptable?"

Great topic Annie!


Annette said...

Hi, Jessi,

Yeah, I've been around you when your DH made you late. It wasn't pretty! LOL!