Lately I read a fine rant on lateness that didn't go far enough. I'd like to add something, and I hope I'm not too late.
Now people seem to think they're not late as long as they text you that they are late. "You're late." "Didn't you get my text?" Soon, cell phones will have buttons that you can push to send pre-set messages to people who are waiting for you. You can push button to say, "Just leaving the house now, sorry." Other buttons will let you say:
Kennedy Expwy a parking lot; b there soon
Here's the thing! Though I am never late and usually 10 minutes early because that's how I was brought up—I usually don't mind, terribly, waiting for you. I have my cell phone to entertain me. In fact, I have a lot to do while I'm waiting, between fielding your apologetic texts and answering work emails because I have people waiting for me too, believe it or not.
So I don't mind the waiting. The time goes fast. It all works out. It's no big deal. What's 20 minutes in the great cosmic wash? What's time to a pig?
Here's what's getting taxing: your cloying apologies—ever increasing in earnestness and emotion and bowing and scraping. And the preposterous position it puts me in: Going to increasing lengths to make you feel okay about it!
"It's no big deal. I'm reading this awesome book …"
"Oh, no, I totally understand. When are they going to do something about these surprise traffic jams in Chicago?"
"Actually, waiting for you is the only time I ever get to myself."
I hope no one person in my life reads this and gets mad. It's not you I'm talking about specifically. It's everyone! So many people are so late so often, that someone who is routinely on time like me begins to feel like a neglected wife, always making excuses for her husband who is too important and busy to tend to the trifles at home. Except, so many people are late these days that I'm more like a Mormon husband, being neglected by eight or nine wives all at once.
For their part, I think the late people think I'm a martyr and a nag. Always, always, always there, annoyingly on time—waiting unblinking, and judging. A passive-aggressive scold, seeking to get a leg up in the relationship by claiming showing up on time as the first if not highest form of human respect! The bells, the bells, the bells!
The late people aren't going to change, except to get worse. Soon the whole world will be so late we'll have to set our clocks back every day. They'll sing the national anthem at the end of ballgames rather than at the beginning. Deadlines will be renamed, sicklines.
Maybe I'm the one who ought to change. Maybe I oughtta loosen up. Start leaving for my meetings with you with enough time to spare as long as I don't need to stop for gas even though I do, as long as the highway is empty even though it never is, and parking is a piece of cake, which would be unprecedented.
And assuming you continue to do the same, the teeter-totter of temporal moral superiority will even out. You'll be late one week, I'll be late the next. Maybe I'll be late three weeks in a row, and then you'll be late four weeks in a row. We'll shrug, and grin good-naturedly about cookies crumbling and shit happening. But there won't be any arm-crossing or finger wagging—or that horrible, phony apologizing.
But I'll let you in on a secret: As hard is it is, my late friend, for you to be on time, it is just as hard for me to be late. Whenever I try to be fashionably late to an event, I wind up spending 20 minutes lurking in the bushes waiting to come in.
So maybe I should stop trying to make you feel better about being late. Maybe it is I who ought to start apologizing: For my boring, predictable, constant, self-righteous, humorless, robotic on-timeness. Who needs a friend like this? I'm sorry. I really am. God, what a pain in the ass it must be, constantly knowing I'm going to be there when I say I am. No, you're right. I'll try to change. I really will. But please. For now. Forgive me. Can you forgive me?
Take ur time. W-8-ing for u again. I know, what a douche, right? LOL! Sorry 🙁