I have been waiting too long. They said they’d be here between 11 and 11:30 am and it’s after 12:30 pm. They’re not here. It’s a 2½ hour drive to our destination and I don’t want to encounter traffic or come back too late. I know these people run late and thought I accounted for that when I asked them to pick me up before noon. They run on a different time sense, however.
I distracted myself by uploading photos of these cute baby hats I’ve been making for charity to my Ravelry account. I searched for a book I misplaced. I watched 2 episodes of 30 Rock. I took out the trash. I watered the outdoor planter. I drank some water.
I finally called the more responsible person of the group I was waiting for and said I could not go with them. She said to me, “I can’t go with just the others.” I knew what she meant, capitulated and said OK, I’d go. So here I’m waiting still.
They came not much after I wrote the above paragraphs and we were finally on our way. I drove; the trip was uneventful. We avoided three fights in the car by me keeping my mouth shut. We arrived at our destination, did our thing, then headed back. I hate driving west around sunset. We stopped so they could eat. I ate my bag of lettuce in the car, tipped the seat back, and rested my eyes while they dined—the restaurant was not kosher so I came prepared. By the time they finished their dinner the sun had set and night fell. I drove the unfamiliar back roads homeward rather than taking the highway. We played a quiz game someone found on Facebook and laughed at the answers everyone provided.
I like being on time. On time to me means arriving before, or at the time I agreed to be somewhere. Depending upon community mores, this could be 10 or 20 minutes later than the published time, but it requires a sense of what time means to that specific group. For instance, in my crowd, a New York wedding called for 8:00 pm may not start until 9:30 pm, but a Pittsburgh wedding will start no later than 8:20 pm. It’s something “everybody knows.” There’s the story of the New Yorkers who went to Pittsburgh for a wedding and showed up at NYC time… and missed the ceremony. They just didn’t understand Pittsburgh time.
I’m normally not punctilious to a fault, but compared to these people I was with today, I am an imperious arbiter, running the trains with an iron fist. My more rigid time sense imposes on their free-form, loose and flowing time sense. And therein lies the problem: they will never see my way, and I will never see theirs. This is a no-compromise zone.
So usually I compromise and tell these people to meet me at a time one hour earlier than necessary so that when they arrive “tardy,” it will be the real time I want to meet at. Has my method has been found out? How much longer can I perpetuate this charade?
It’s not that I’m impatient. To the contrary, usually it’s exactly the opposite. I am very “chill,” waiting in line, passing time, being agreeable. I don’t rush, but plan ahead to avoid needing to rush. This talent has grown over the last decade. I got tired of being late, arriving on the brink, thinking of excuses. I changed myself and got discipline. I feel proud of this achievement and it has saved me much aggravations.
Certain situations—and people—push my buttons, though. Repeatedly. This has been going on for a long time. It’s them, not me. I feel I can’t avoid them and their warped molasses sense of time. For now, at least.
Some day I will simply refuse to do anything with that crowd. Or go without me, I’ll tell them. Until then, I will need to breathe deeply, take a few steps away from the cliff, and realize that some old dogs cannot learn new tricks… or how to read a clock.