Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Time Sense and Nonsense

My hubs has no sense of time. He never has had one. When he estimates how long it will take us to go somewhere we’ve never been before, he’ll underestimate most of the time. Now sometimes this truly pisses me off, as when his tendency to screw up times makes us late. But after being married to him for a good many years, I’ve gotten to the point where I can usually just let it go with an eyeroll and an occasional grind of the teeth.

Because, you see, I’m the exact opposite. Where my hubs underestimates how long it will take us to get anywhere, I inevitably overestimate. And I’m a stickler about being on time for things, which means I’m frequently early. Which means that, since I don’t want to show up at your door before you’re ready for me, I’ll probably drive around the block a few times before I arrive at your party. And if I get struck in traffic, I’ll be increasingly frantic as the minutes tick away.

Punctuality is usually regarded as a good thing, and I believe that it is. But it’s really tough sometimes for a habitually (one might almost say obsessively) punctual type like me to chill out when it comes to lateness. And it’s even harder for punctual me to understand people who aren’t.
When I was teaching, I had students who used to show up for class five or ten minutes late on a regular basis. If they did it often enough, I’d call them on it after class. And their excuse was always something like “The traffic is really bad near my apartment.” The logical rejoinder here—“Then why don’t you leave earlier”—never seemed to occur to them. Lateness just didn’t strike them as a problem. But for those of us who are big on punctuality, lateness a deal breaker.

Some of our relatives always assume if we’re late it’s because of me because, you know, women just can’t be on time. I don’t bother to correct them because 1) they’re related to my hubs and they ought to know by now that he’s time challenged, and 2) they’re pretty much dodoes to believe that in the first place. But just to make my point clear—punctuality has nothing to do with gender.

The only good thing about this situation is that the hubs and I tend to cancel one another out. As I grow increasingly hysterical about making sure we leave on time, I can nudge my hubs into leaving a bit earlier than he’d originally intended. And by dragging his feet in his usual fashion, he can keep me from getting us there with half an hour to kill.

I presume there are couples out there who don’t have this problem—who are either both fanatically punctual or both habitually late. I envy you, but hey, at my age I can almost promise I’m not going to change.

Besides, why should I? I know I’m absolutely right. Just ask my hubs.

So what about you—punctual, late, or somewhere in between?


Anonymous said...

In my family my father is always late and my mother is absolutely punctual.
My sisters and i are all obsessively on time because we loathed being late thanks to our father.
This became more obvious after our parents got divorced., I don't think my father ever returned us on time, we would all be packed and ready to leave and he'd still be having coffee or take five minutes just to put on his shoes.
For an entire year my elder sister would walk an hour into town rather than have our father drive her. And she never gave him the correct time if she had to have him drop her off, she always said it started a minimum of 30minutes earlier than it ever did.
My mother on the opposite hand has had friends call her when she's two minutes late just to check she remembered the occasion, and usually whenever that happened she had the dates mixed up and immediately left.
The most I have ever been late when with my mother was 10 minutes.

PG Forte said...

Yeah, my husband and I have a similar problem. He underestimates the time things take on most occasions. But he also hates being late, so he overcompensates.

I hate being late, too, but I'm so used to compensating for his overcompensating that I occasionally cut things too short. The shorter the distance, the better the chance that I'll be late getting there.

One of these years, I'm sure we'll get it right. :)

Kelly Jamieson said...

Ha! I'm like you Meg! And yes, it always amazes me the people who just don't care about being late. It's fine if it doesn't affect anyone else, but when people are waiting for you,I see that as so disrespectful. (Yes we are right)

Meg Benjamin said...

Wow, interesting! So the whole thing about women being chronically late is another myth.

Kinsey Holley said...

Big myth. I hate being late and I'm sometimes teased for getting everywhere early. I have several chronically late people in my life but I've learned to live with them. In college one of our friends was so, so chronically late - average of 1 hour late on most occasions - that once when we were all meeting at a dorm to go to a campus party, we left a note for her at the front desk: "You're 45 minutes late and we want beer. See you there." It didn't cure her but for a while, she was only 30-40 minutes late everywhere.

My best friend will be late for her own funeral.

Meg Benjamin said...

Elizabeth Taylor actually was late for her own funeral. She left instructions that she wanted her coffin to arrive several minutes after the guests had been seated. Bless her heart!

Katie O'Connor said...

I am very punctual. Usually I arrive early and end up waiting in the car. It drives me out of my mind when people are late. Recently a relative who shall remain nameless was three hours late for a birthday party because she was SHOPPING. Really? The party you knew about for six month surprised you?

Late makes me mental!