Buckle up: this is a true story. Last week some time—or, because I have no good sense of time, or linear progression, or anything involving numbers or remotely close to math, it may have been the week before—I was speeding in the toll lane on I-15 from work back downtown.
I was drinking a cold brew, listening to a work conference call (yes; I have two phones—don’t get me started) and also giving my fresh-from-the-gym self a Parisian shower with a bamboo-woodland spray from Aveda called ‘Balance’ that smells amazing but clearly lacks efficacy in my case. I may have also been applying concealer and Facetiming a parent teacher conference. In my defense it was mostly stop-and-go traffic. Do not call the police; it is too late. My license plate, if you’re interested, is EFF OFF.
I am almost always moderately to severely late, depending on the day, the hassles or cancellations that work for and against me, and perhaps most importantly, how much I’m in my zone at the previous engagement, when time keeps on ticking by while it’s somehow preternaturally suspended for me.
A particularly generous and honest friend—the only kind to have—recently told me, “You’re like a really good, really frustrating doctor. You start the day basically on time, but you give each appointment your all and run later and later all day. It’s awesome when it’s your appointment, but the waiting room really sucks.”
Ah yes; I can just imagine. It is probably too hot or too cold, with intermittent Wifi and loud talkers, or, at lunchtime, full of tedious servers ‘just checking back in’, too many iced tea refills, and your next appointment anxiety. For that, I am sorry. Truly.
This is aimed at the people in my life who Care Very Deeply about timeliness, read….husband (I love you; I try to make it worth your while), work team (at least I’m consistent in my lateness), and some friends and acquaintances (some of who give me the heave ho and some who just fib to me about start times). Bless you one and all.
Truth is, I don’t know if I can change it. After all, I was born late. My poor mother was due February 27, 1980 and I showed up on March 22. Maybe I’m just hard-wired that way.
I can improve on it, and, like, get less late. I’m trying! I’ll take it into consideration.
In fact, upon consideration, I think I may have already. I am somewhere between:
- 3 and 5 minutes for scheduled appointments and work meetings.
- 7 and 15 minutes, generally, for things after 1:00pm.
- 15 minutes to a half an hour for large group social gatherings where I would argue it doesn’t really matter and usually the host is pleased to have some extra time. Yes, sometimes my husband Ubers before me.
Interestingly enough, some things I do in RECORD TIME. Like decisions. You want me in a fitting room. You want me at tapas. You definitely want me when your house is on fire. Hopefully your house will not catch fire, but if it does—I’ll tell you what to grab and what to do and get you out of there safe and sound quick as a wink.
Also, for being so late, I do everything quickly. Like being born. Three weeks late, but out in 20ish minutes. Done and done. I talk quickly and drive quickly and think quickly and decide quickly. Maybe this is a legitimate disorder. Like chronodystopia.
I’m trying to resist my journalistic urge to cite studies about creatives and geniuses sharing an utter disregard for punctuality. And also the urge to tie this confessional up in a neat bow with what I’ve learned and how I am transformed. Alas, I am many things, but a liar isn’t one of them.
What I will say is this. My lateness is not meant to offend, annoy, or devalue you. It is much more about my inability to extricate myself from the moment I’m in. And oh, how I hate it when you have to go.
In fact, my late arrival is no more intentional than I suspect it is for those people you just can’t quite get below the surface with. It’s maddening, but in those cases and in mine, I guess it’s just a struggle for some of us to show up as you’d like or expect.
I understand that my lateness perplexes people. I’m working on it. And yet, in the immortal words of Ke$ha: We are who we are, and in the great grand scheme of life, I don’t think this should be such a big deal. In the nonstop hustle bustle of life, maybe just take a moment to breathe.
Recently another friend, a recovering and perhaps even founding member of the Tardy Team, told me of any epiphany in her mid-forties. She was just sick to death of feeling rushed, and flustered, and taking on the heaviness of other people’s judgements.
So she decluttered her commitments, got realistic about how long life takes, built in some buffer time, and took to waltzing in like a dream before or at the given hour like the leading lady she is.
That revisionist script might just be well-timed advice.
The Beth List
Reasons for Being Late: A True or False Quiz
(Annotated answer key below)
- Pressed juice bottle hit the hatchback button on my keys, which opened it in fateful synchronicity with the garage door, lodging them together and nearly ripping both off.
- I’ve worked for too many politicians.
- I think my time is more important than yours.
- I don’t like you or I suspect you don’t like me.
- I forget daily savings time.
- Coffee is more important.
- I am in the moment.
- I backed through the garage door.
- True. Last week. Don’t tell Danny.
- True. They are so so so so late; they make me look early.
- False. And stop saying this to late people. It just makes them sad and thirsty.
- Sort of true. My bad.
- So true. Happened Sunday.
- True. Duh.
- This is the truest thing I can say. Wherever I am is where I am. Mindfulness over timeliness. Can I get an amen?
- False. But my mom definitely did when I was a kid. Still cracks me up. Love you, Mom.