Chronologically Challenged

I have 8 clocks in my home. This doesn’t include watches, or the clocks built into the TV, computer, laptop or cell phones.  They’re all sensible clocks with numbers on them (Roman or regular) and they all show the exact time.

Some people set their clocks 10 minutes or so ahead to fool themselves into getting places on time.

Guest: Oh no it’s 6:00 o’clock, we’d better go if we’re going to get there on time.

Clock Owner: Don’t worry, that clock is 10 minutes fast.  We’ve got plenty of time.

See? It doesn’t work. I also don’t get the concept of the snooze button on the alarm. I always wake up before the alarm anyway, but even if I didn’t why would I want to be woken up 10 minutes before I have to get up, if I’m not going to get up then anyway?

I like to know what the exact time it is all the time. Some of my clocks are electric and some are battery operated in case of power failures. (Oh, sorry… power outages. Failure would imply something had gone wrong. Outage, on the other hand, just sounds like something cute and quirky like a belly-button)

Anyway, we had a power outage last night, so I had to reset all the electric clocks. I’m not sure what the battery back-up is for because it never keeps the time right.

I hate being late. I can honestly say I have never been late for anything except when it was due to circumstances beyond my control (e.g.: flight delays, someone else is driving, etc.)

I’m usually early for everything (including work) and figure I’ve spent a good portion of my life just waiting for things to start or for other people to show up.

Some people are always late. They don’t understand why. They have an odd concept of the passage of time.  Here’s an example:

I’m getting a ride with a friend to a day conference.  We have to be there for 9:30. It takes approximately 20 minutes to drive there.  I get to her house at 8:45 because I know she’s always late and I’m hoping I can help hurry her along. [Please note that just because the subject of this example is a female it does not mean that males are exempt from being similarly time-challenged]

She’s still in her housecoat slurping coffee.

She: I’m almost ready, don’t worry.  I just have to get dressed.

She disappears for a while into her bedroom and emerges at 9:00 fully clothed.

She: There! All ready.

Me: Great! Lets’ go.

She: We still have 10 minutes, there’s no point in getting there too early.

Me: Getting twitchy.  Okaaaaaay. But you’re all ready, right?

 She: YES! I swear!

At 9:10 I point out it’s time to get going.  She reluctantly gets up.  Rinses her cup.  Goes to brush her teeth.  Notices her blouse has a stain. Changes her blouse.  Searches for her shoes. Remembers that she’s having them re-soled and has forgotten to pick them up at the shoe place.

She: You don’t mind if we make a quick stop to pick up my shoes, do you? It’s on the way.

Me: No. (What can I say? I’m only the passenger)

She grabs her purse.  Its’ the wrong purse.  She roots around her closet for the right purse. Switches all the stuff from purse #1 to purse#2.  Can’t find keys. We both go through the entire house twice searching for keys. I find them in the back door.

The shoe place is in a mall.  We park. We get out and walk through the mall.  She remembers she needs toothpaste and stops to buy some at the drug store. She also checks to see if the new Cosmo is in.

At the shoe place she has a nice chat with the shoe man.  They seem to have a lot of acquaintances in common.

We’re back on the road.  We pull into the Tim Horton’s drive-thru.

 She: I really need another coffee. You don’t mind stopping, do you?

Just before we get to the turn-off for the conference centre there’s a bit of a traffic snarl. We have to sit for a few minutes while things clear up.

She: (irritated) What the hell is going on up there? (Straining to see ahead of the traffic). What time is it?

Me: (having given up on punctuality long ago) 10:35

She: Oh, my god! Have we been sitting here that long?

And, I honestly believe that she honestly believes that because it was 9:10 when we decided to leave and because it takes 20 minutes to get to our destination, the only reason we didn’t get to our destination at 9:30 was because of this unexpected traffic jam.

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18 responses to “Chronologically Challenged

  1. Oh my! these sort of people drive me mental. I too like being to places on time. Occasionally… fashionably late… only if it’s at a party and I know other people will be showing up first.

  2. Totally mental!! I would have been punching holes in the car door before then. Yikes. Sometimes, I have written off to being something cultural? I traveled to India with a friend (from India) for a wedding and most days we didn’t get to dinner until Midnight because, well, there were all sorts of visits to be made and errands to run before dinner. And I was a foreigner/guest, completely my hosts’ mercy, and just shut my yap and tried to be civil. After about the 5th day of that, I broke down crying (we changed destinations so many times, my luggage was at someone else’s house and I had no clean clothes, passport, or shoes) and they all concluded I had indigestion because of all the spicy food.

  3. That’s sooo frustrating! I’m getting all tense just reading about it… I’m always early too – I’d much rather suffer the boredom of waiting for something to start than the embarrassment of arriving after something has already begun.

  4. A&J- Some people’s skewed conception of time is always interesting to me. I had a boss once who always believed he could do 5 days work in one day and ended up mostly not getting any of it done. He could never understand where the time went. (PS: Are you going to change the name of your blog now?)

    Nylon – Thanks for visiting. I’ve found that at a certain point it’s best just to surrender to whatever I’ve gotten myself into. Otherwise I’d spend way too much time having strokes about things I can can do nothing about.

    Tania – Ya, I wonder if perhaps WE have a problem, too? Like, what’s the big deal about missing a few minutes of something? I think it’s really, really rude to be late/keep people waiting, but is there more to obsessive punctuality than that?

  5. I, too, am a punctuality freak. I hate waiting, but not nearly as much as I hate being late.
    In my case, it’s genetic. My Grandpa was known for his punctuality and his habit of being early for everything. After he retired, he would wait out in the cold at the front door of the library, waiting for the old dame who ran it (and played up to him unabashedly, while being the most miserable old bat to anyone else) to unlock the door.
    He was also given a key to the clubhouse at the golf course, so he could get out early in the morning, even before the staff arrived.
    In my adult life, part of my punctuality obsession comes from working in broadcasting, a business in which you cannot say “Oh well, if I’m not done by six o’clock, I can leave it until tomorrow.” Hello? Tonight’s six o’clock news cannot wait until 11:21 a.m. tomorrow.
    I had to delicately explain that last week to an HR person who’s new to broadcasting, having come over from the world of retail. We were discussing a problem with a worker who isn’t the fastest or most deadline-driven, and this HR person didn’t seem to think it was such a big deal.

    Oops! Look at the time! Gotta run!

  6. I’m a real stickler for punctuality, but I’m trying to calm down about it. 🙂 When Claire was 6-months old, I stopped wearing my watch (she’d chew on it – teething – and I hated getting it wet). I nearly had a panic attack not having a watch, but decided to embrace it. And, you know what? She’s 2.5 years old, and I still don’t wear it.

    My ex-bf was horrible with time. It drove me insane. When my hubby and I started dating, I used his punctuality as a litmus test of sorts, and surprisingly, he passed with flying colors. He’s not as worried about arriving on time (I tend to work myself into a tizzy), but he’s not lax about it either.

    We don’t have a lot of clocks here. We have a wall clock in the kitchen and then a clock in our bedroom…and that’s about it. You can see the time on the thermostat in the hallway and in the bathroom on the heated-flooring sensor. This drove my mom INSANE when she visited us. Every 23 minutes she was asking what time it was and why don’t you people believe in clocks.

    And, she wore a watch… 😉

    Oh, I have so much more to say!! But I don’t want to be a comment hog (too late for that, huh?). Maybe I’ll post something about this soon on my own blog.

  7. Bob – I can’t see how people who are always late can function in any job, really. I mean, they have to show up on time at least, don’t they? Although, we’ve had people with us who just sort of seem to drift in at odd hours whenever they manage to get here. Really pisses people off, but I guess it’s pretty difficult to get fired in the government.

    CP – Interesting how we haven’t heard from anyone who boasts about always being tardy, isn’t it? Perhaps they’ll get around to it later. The funny thing about all my clocks is that I almost always know what time it is within 10 minutes or so anyway. I just use the clocks to confirm. And I would feel quite panicky if I were to find myself clockless. And you’re quite welcome to hog the comments — there seems to be limitless space here.

  8. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm…..were you writing about me in your blog? Honestly I am not that bad. But I am Italian, so it is in my genetic code. I have the tendency to be late, yes and I also keep a watch 5 minutes ahead of time…and yes, I also think “oh this watch is 5 minutes ahead, so there is plenty of time”. But I am never late for work meetings (e.g., this morning we had a meeting at 9.30 and I was alone. People started to show up at 10 to 10. And I rushed to be there on time). And another thing, after having been working with people from many different nationalities, I too believe that partly is also a cultural thing. Italians are late. No doubts about it. Spanish are worst. But absolutely the worst are the Chinese. If it is not something related to work, they can show up with even 1 hour delay……..that was annoying….

  9. I actually had to move to a city half an hour away from where I work to challenge myself to be merely on time, instead of making everyone else I work with look like the sorry, punctuality-challenged freaks that they are…and when that didn’t work, I forced my wife to have twins, to really slow me down.
    Still, I’m perfect.
    Actually, none of that is true.
    I have a sliding start time of somewhere around 11am in my job, and I am ‘live on the air’ at 2pm. Between my somewhere-around-11am start time and 2pm, I have to voicetrack a second radio station’s mid-day show, and program the music for two, three, or four days – all depending on the day of the week.
    So, I guage my sliding scale of how close to 11am I need to be at work accordingly, and get everything done that’s necessary before my shift starts at 2pm. Sharp.

    So, maybe I am perfect after all.
    …and I never let anyone else drive me anywhere for anything.

  10. fromtheworld – nice to hear from the other side. Maybe some of it is cultural, but I still don’t understand how you can survive in business when you can’t even arrive to meetings on time??

    JB – I’m not too fond of being driven anywhere either. If at all possible, I make my own way there. I may have to adopt your NEVER EVER policy.

  11. I was ready to gouge out her eyes by “rinses her cup’.

    Actually, I am almost always late. This was pointed out to me by a client the other day who rushed to get home and was waylaid by traffic, but calmed herself by saying: but Sanna is usually 10 minutes late, so it’ll be fine. That day, I was early.

    I don’t like being late, but what I hate even more is making people wait for me while I get ready. So many times I have left the house without something I needed, because a friend was standing in the hall waiting and wishing my cat would stop flopping on her feet.

  12. I think that people who have the tendency to be late, in a country where everything tends to run on time, should try to find a job which doesn’t impose specific beginning and ending times. As I said, I am never late for work meetings. But it seems that here everyone else is. I am always almost late (because most of the time I rush so much that I get to the place “almost” on time) for whatever other thing I have to do.
    But in some country, where being late is part of the culture, none cares and yes, I wonder too how the country can actually keep running. When I was working in Venezuela, I had an appointment with a Prof at the University of Caracas and he actually never showed up. And this because I didn’t know that in Venezuela there is an important difference between the words ahora and horita. One means now, the other means sometime in the future. To me, they both sounded like now. And I kept waiting for longtime for someone who never showed up.

  13. Omigosh, I would be starting to have an anxiety attack about 9:00, if I had been in your place. I don’t like being late for anything, and I really hate it when I am expecting people and they show up late. It’s just really bad manners, especially if they are carrying a cell phone and don’t call to say they are going to be late. Arrgghhh.

    I have an instinctive built-in clock, and I am always accurate within three or four minutes. My friends actually test me, “Okay what time is it now?” and I tell them bang on. It never fails. I don’t know how I am able to do it. I don’t wear a watch even though I own several. But I always know what time it is.

  14. Hey XUP!
    For a while there, I couldn’t find you’re blog through your profile on blogger, and then I remembered that I’d bookmarked it, and when I checked the bookmark, I realized you’d jumped ship to wordpress…. I’ve gotta start reading more of your posts. they look fascinating…
    So, curious, why wordpress. What did you feel it afforded you that blogger didn’t. I’m too lazy to switch, so I’ll probably stay right where I am for the forseeable future, but still wanna know.

  15. Violetsky – Interesting. You don’t like to be late, yet are. Why do you think that is? Are you like the person in my example who doesn’t understand that all that extra stuff takes time?

    fromtheworld – Halifax was like that, too. Everyone had all the time in the world and didn’t show up for appointments a lot.

    Josie – Ha ha. My daughter plays that “what time is it” game with me all the time and I always guess right, too. I do wear a watch, though and she always thinks I’ve cheated. But I never do.

  16. ok, second comment in a row, but I just had to say I have the exact same challenge, and it’s all I can do not to scream at the other person: “Don’t you get it? It’s not the traffic. It’s YOU!!!!!!”

  17. I’m not at all like your example – honest! I time everything to the last second. And if ‘ve made it from my place to yours even once in 17 minutes, then I expect to be able to do it every time, even though the other dozen times it took 25 minutes. Traffic really is my problem, I rarely remember until it is too late to leave enough time for construction or congestion at say, noon.

    Actually, the only extra bit I truly forget about is the elevator!

  18. Noha – Glad you finally found me. Switching to WordPress was amazingly simple – you just set up an account and they move everything over for you. There’s a lot more you can do with WordPress – more templates, better stats, lots of fun options for posting, media, etc.., Also I could no longer access blogger from work. As to your other comment, I’ve sort of tried to stop screaming at people. They are what they are and you just kind of have to put up with it.

    Violetsky – ha ha ha ha ha — you ARE like my example…blame everything on traffic. Everyone I’ve ever known who is chronically late does pretty much exactly what the woman in my example does and then blames their tardiness on traffic. They never get that all those extra little errands and last minute searches and stuff take up TIME. But I’ll believe you if you say you’re the exception and it really is traffic, okay?