This may come as a shock to friends and co-workers of the past 2-3 years, but I used to be extremely punctual.
OK, now that I’ve given you enough time to get your laughter out of the way, I’ll continue.
I was raised by one parent who is punctual to a fault–I’m talking punctual as in we leave 30 minutes before a showtime for a movie theater that is five minutes away–and one parent who is well-practiced at navigating traffic to have us arrive usually right on time, if not a few minutes late. To continue the movie theater analogy, this parent typically shows up 10 minutes after the movie has started. Together, you have the perfect mix of I-can-enjoy-my-coffee-because-I’m-ready-to-leave-30-minutes-in-advance and running-out-the-door-coffee-in-hand-to-make-it-maybe-on-time. You would think this would produce the right amount of punctuality, right?
Sure enough, it does. For years, I balanced in the middle. A type-A person who likes order and schedules, I love knowing exactly where I need to be somewhere. At the same time, I am a serious lollygagger with even more serious time management issues, in the sense that I lie to myself almost every day about how long it typically takes me to get ready. Balanced together, you have a person who scheduled lollygagging time in order to leave with enough time to spare, whether it was for work, to meet a friend, or just for a run to Target. This system lasted me for years.
Then something happened. I moved into a fraternity house.
OK, so I can’t blame my lateness issues on the fact that I lived with fraternity men for three years (although it seems like a pretty convenient excuse). For some reason, I became lax with my timing and now, voila, I am incapable of leaving for anything, anywhere, ever, on time.
So I ask myself, again, the question that’s been running through my mind for the past several months: When did I become this Late Girl? Was it because of a lack of rigid schedule during grad school? Was it because I worked in an office where someone was always running late, taking the pressure off my own punctuality? Was it because I tried to cram my days with too many things? Was it because the lollygagging part of my day became so enjoyable that I didn’t want it to end?
It’s probably the last one. I’m still searching for the perfect answer to this question.
My coworkers in Greek Life at UMD are very familiar with this bad habit of mine. Since we all lived together on fraternity row, we would usually meet up together anytime there was an office meeting. But somewhere in my 3rd year at Maryland, I stopped caring about super-on-time-punctuatlity and changed my conception of time from “meet outside at 9:50 to walk to the 10 o’clock meeting” to “meeting at 9:50ish to get to the meeting at 10ish.” Even when I scheduled the meet-up time, I was usually the last one to arrive, my co-workers standing in a huddle,
patiently waiting for me. I would casually walk out of my house, hear the usual “oh, it’s about time” sort of jokes, before walking to wherever it was we were headed.
After a while, it became a joke; a funny quirk about my personality. “Oh, we’re going to Looneys? Well give Katherine an extra hour to arrive…” “You’re meeting us now? See you in 30 minutes.” One time, I was so elated to actually be running on time, I ran out of my house to beat everyone else to the meet-up location, just for that fleeting moment of victory.
Rahul knows about this problem better than anyone. His rule, now, is “don’t tell me you’re ready to go until you are ACTUALLY ready to go.” He is well practiced at waiting patiently as I say “Ok, let’s go,” then grab my jewelry, “Ok, let’s go,” and then put my purse together, “Ok, let’s go,” and then use the bathroom, “OK WE REALLY HAVE TO GO NOW” to which he reminds me, kindly, that he has been ready and waiting for several minutes.
However, now that I am working at three different schools, and am generally running around all the time to get from one place to the next, my lateness has passed being a “quirk” to just downright annoying. I get physically irritated with myself when I set a leave time of 8 AM and roll out of the house at 8:20, frantically navigating interstate traffic to make it to my 9 AM class on time. Even with things I enjoy, like running or TARGET RUNS, I’m heading to the door anywhere from 10-30 minutes after I told myself I would. My scheduled personality has crumbled in on itself. I’m made peace with the “I told myself I would grade 5 papers today and I only graded 3” part of my scheduling, because I know I’ll get the grading done anyway, no matter what, but I haven’t made peace with the fact that I am ALWAYS. RUNNING. LATE. Even when I prepare my coffee the night before, pack my lunch, and assemble my outfit, I still find some way to leave 10 minutes after I meant to, which means I’m scrambling to find parking, running to my class to make it on time, apologizing to my students for the 2-minute delay (although they don’t really seem to care), running out of time to make all the copies I need, etc etc etc. My lateness isn’t so much fun anymore; not only is it causing unneeded stress, it’s irritating the hell out of me.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a very long time (ironic, isn’t it), but I’m glad I waited, as Rahul and I saw Mike Birbiglia this weekend, where he started his show with a diatribe about his distaste for late people, whom he calls “Lateys.” In fact, one of his first lines was, “I would have started on time but about 100 of you were still making your way to your seat,” before launching into a rant about why late people are the worst. He talked about how you can be early for hours, but when you’re late, you’re late forever.
Things could be worse, right?
You know, I get it, though. I’m currently on my way to becoming that family member you lie to about what time dinner starts (“oh, it’s at 5,” because you know they actually won’t show up until 6, when the thing really starts) and I don’t really want that.
You can watch a version of his diatribe on the Jimmy Kimmel Show here:
My favorite line? “What late people don’t realize about us on-time people is that we hate them.” So, I do apologize to all my on-time friends for the many minutes you have wasted waiting for me. I’m trying to get better, I promise…
Speaking of his show, that was our Saturday night, preceded by an afternoon at the Apple store getting the iPhone 6! I’ve never had something so soon to its release date and I feel so fancy. I feel like the “early adopters” Simon Sinek talks about in his “Start with Why” video (I know my fellow UMD Greek life employees will understand what I mean here). But seriously, it’s a very nice, big ass phone, and I’m just waiting for the day when I inevitably drop it or damage it somehow…when I do, I promise to post about it.