I am a compulsively early person. If I’m supposed to be somewhere at 10:00 and it’s 9:58 and I’m five minutes away, I get sort of panicky. People have anxiety about different things; (one of) mine is that I get completely stressed out if it looks like I might not get somewhere by my assigned time.
I know why and it’s totally my mom’s fault. [Hi, mom!]
When I was a kid and I’d go to movies with my mom, we would take books to read while we sat in the movie theater waiting for the movie to start. Apparently they spaced movie times farther apart when I was a kid, because we would regularly sit in those theaters for at least half an hour.
I remember one of the first times I went to the movies with a friend and her family. We got there maybe two or three minutes before the movie started and the only seats left were right in the front. When I told my mom this, she said, “That’s why I like to go early.” As if, The Horror!, terrible things (neck cricks?) await those who are not clever enough to get one of the theater’s other 196 seats taken by the early arrivers. Picture me twirling my finger around my ear in the “she’s crazy” gesture. You really don’t want to know how early this woman gets to the airport.
I guess in the long run it has served me well, except for the fact that almost no one else is punctual. I grew up in Utah where the phrase “Mormon Standard Time” meant that if you were ten minutes late, you were on time. Imagine my pain. Will no one think of the children?!
Alex does not come from a punctual family. One time his mom was five hours late picking us up from the airport. [Hi, Mom-in-law!]
This caused all sorts of problems when we started dating. I can’t count the number of times he was supposed to be at my apartment at, say, 2:00 and I would call him at 2:05 to hear him say, “I’m just leaving now.” Imagine how badly my sensibilities were offended by the fact that he would LEAVE AFTER HE WAS SUPPOSED TO ARRIVE. It’s taken 13 years, but I think I may have nagged it out of him by now. He’s almost always on time now. Almost.
I won’t mention the time I had to drag 3 kids (including an at-the-time baby) across a busy street to wait 30 minutes at the bus stop to take a completely full standing-room-only bus (in which there was a man who admonished everyone over and over, “Won’t somebody stand up for her?”) to a spot 1 mile from where I needed to be and then had to coax/carry everyone UP THE ONE-MILE HILL because he was three hours late getting home. Oh, wait, I just did mention it. [Hi, Alex!]
I’m not saying that early is better, and honestly, on-time is often considered early. We are almost always the first ones to parties and often the hosts aren’t quite ready setting up. Although I will often drive or walk around a block multiple times so that I don’t get there too early. I do that quite a lot, actually. Even when I try to be late, I end up getting there on time.
See, I back-time things. I have to be there at 10. It will take me 11 minutes to get shoes on everyone, get them to the potty, and put them in the car. It will take me 12 minutes to get there. You always have to build in time for traffic, unplanned potty emergencies, or a flat tire (thanks, Mom), so I’ll leave at 9:30. It gets even more exciting if I try to run an errand before I have to be somewhere. I could back-time a whole day if need be.
I’ve gotten pretty good at this. Although if Alex ever leaves me, it may because of my frequent time freak-outs. I’ll be freaking out and yelling because “We’re late, we’re late,” when we’re actually just running 3 minutes behind on my imaginary back-timing plan. I imagine it must be immensely satisfying for him when we get someplace on time or early after I’ve spent a half-hour yelling about how late we are.
I may need help.