Friday, October 12, 2007

The Late Mrs. Linklater

I come from a family that was never late to anything. Time was a master to be obeyed. I think that comes from having a nurse mom and a doctor dad who were always consulting their watches for medications, pulse rates, and time of death. Years later, my mom still wore her watch with the face on the inside of her wrist, like she used to when she was timing contractions in the labor rooms. Needless to say, for my siblings and me, nothing good ever came of not being on time. If you were late getting in, you could be locked out of the house. If you weren't ready to go, my dad was known to leave without you. That kind of stuff.

But time is just time. You have the power to make it a tool or a weapon. You can let it rule your life or simply manage it. After growing up and leaving home -- on time -- punctuality was so ingrained that it became a test of another person's character. Mostly it loomed as a sign of respect. I was pretty rigid in the beginning. A guy who said he would pick me up at 8:00 and showed up later without calling didn't get a second chance. Assuming I wasn't gone already.

Later I had an in-law who was generous to a fault, kind to everyone, devoted to her church, and the most self effacing person I have ever known, but she was always two hours late. For everything. You could set your clock by when she said she would arrive. No matter what time she said, she'd get there exactly two hours later. It never occurred to her to call, because she never thought she was going to be late. She always arrived with profuse apologies as if her ridiculous lateness had never happened before. Time, I realized later, was the one thing that was all about her.

On the other hand, I learned not to be impressed by people who show up early. They're anxious and they make me uncomfortable. Every time someone is early, it just pisses me off. Getting to my house a half an hour ahead of time for a party, a date, a ride, whatever, was and still is, just annoying. I'm never ready early. I know how long things take to be on time, so you're just messing me up.  It's like someone opening the door on you when you're in the bathroom. In fact, it feels just like that.

The key is being able to hit the mark. Not either side of it. Naturally, I married the most punctual person I have ever known. We were perfectly suited for one another time-wise. Laugh at me, but I'm not the only one who lovespunctuality you know. I heard that Cindy Crawford and Richard Gere had big problems in their marriage because she was always punctual, and he was hours and hours late.

But then I had children. And from that point, until recently, I have been fifteen minutes late to everything.  For years, no matter how hard I tried, that incremental quarter of an hour was attached my to my arrival time like toilet paper stuck to my shoe.

The main reason I finally got a cell phone was to let people know I'd be about fifteen minutes late. Until this year. Something has happened. Recently, I had to be at someone's house the other day at 8:00 AM. I was about to call them to say I would be a little late. But I noticed I wasn't.

The first thing they said when I walked in was "Right on time." I can't remember the last time anyone said that to me. Maybe I finally have enough time to be on time again.

6 comments:

salemslot9 said...

I'll be late for my own funeral :)

sdoscher458 said...

My youngest sister is like your in-law, always always late. I think I have lost years waiting on her to show up. The funny thing is the only one she will not keep waiting is our Dad...so everytime we need her to really really be on time we have Dad tell her. Lol....yes, it is sad.  Take care...Sandi

mosie1944 said...

Cliff and I are both right-on-timers.  He has an always-late brother who irritates us no end.  I feel it's rude to show up late and keep people waiting; I've always considered being chronically late a "control" thing, a way to manipulate others.

salemslot9 said...

I've read that some people
who are late are looking for attention
I'm not one of them
if I'm going to be late
I call and tell them to start without me

mombzbe said...

I'm always fifteen minutes late.  

Don't even get me started on the # of tardies on my kids report cards.  Ack.  I'm trying to turn over a new leaf when we go back to school Weds.

Hopefully it will last..this time.
Anna

psychfun said...

Are you late to events you schedule or just others? Maybe they just scheduled them too early? HA! Is 15 min considered fashionably late or grossly late? In the south I don't think they even have the concept of "late". You get there when you get there. Things get done when they get done. They thought I was crazy & I'm always 15 min late! HA! Well, now more 5-10 so I'm getting better I guess. I wonder if it has anything to do with whether we were on time being born? Isn't there any research on this? And really, what is so darn important that it has to start on time? And whose clock are we using? My employee I think purposely sets all clocks a little off so depending upon if you want to say if you are on time or that someone else is late if they come after you, you have some "proof" ha!