Be Early Or Be Late, Just Don’t Be Last MinutePosted: November 18, 2011
I am on time. Always. Typically, I arrive early to wherever I am expected. I don’t do late well.
You might think people who tend to be late would bother me. I’m not at all upset by them, unless they are traveling with me. If you’re late, fine. Do not make me late.
There are certain people whose time management drives me crazy. They are a small minority of folks. They occupy the space between early people and late people. They are the people who arrive just in the nick of time.
Is It Precision?
Part of my job entails briefing my counterpart on the next shift. Typically, I arrive at work thirty minutes before the people I supervise. The person I relieve gets me up to speed on the events of the day, then leaves because he was thirty minutes early for his shift.
Until not long ago, one of the people who would relieve me would arrive one minute before he was due to start his shift. He’d arrive one minute ahead of time, want to be social and wonder why I wasn’t chatty. I can be chatty, but not when I am late for the door.
Initially I was upset because I thought he would wait outside until one minute before he was to report, then come inside. I began waiting in the parking lot. He would pull into the lot two minutes ahead of time, day after day. I was sure he was sitting up the road until the last possible second to make his hair of his chinny chin chin arrival.
I was wrong. I started moving out on his route to work. I was as far as ten minutes from the office, he always hit the same points at the same time. He always arrived in the lot at two minutes before he would be late and walked in one minute before that magic moment.
How do people do that? If I had to arrive at the same spot at the same time daily, I would fail miserably. Some people are amazingly precise.
Let’s Talk About My Newspaper Lady.
As I mentioned, I am not late. But I may arrive 15 minutes ahead of when I’m expected, or ten, or thirty. Things happen. Sometimes I get a slow start. Other times there are accidents. Things happen.
My alarm goes off at 4:30 am on work mornings. That is a painful time to wake up. I value every minute of sleep. I typically sleep soundly until the alarm. There are mornings where I will stir a bit and wonder how much longer I can sleep. I can know within one minute, without opening my eyes when my alarm is going to go off. It takes hearing one special combination of sounds.
When I hear a car zip down my block combined with the sound of folded newspapers hitting the driveways I know that I have exactly one minute until my alarm goes off. Whooooooshhh—plop—hhhhhhh—plop—hhhhhh—plop. I hear the sound, I grumble. I get up and look at the clock. 4:29, every time. EVERY TIME?
How does my newspaper lady do it? Why does she never have a morning where she spills coffee on herself? How is it that her car never breaks down? Does the power never go out at her house? Is she at all familiar with the flu? Nothing ever befalls her. She is at my driveway at 4:29, every morning.
I appreciate her work ethic. I like that my paper is there for me in the morning. I hate her. I hate her ability to arrive at the same precise moment every day.
Why Is This An Issue?
These last moment people are a scourge on the rest of us. We should rise up against them. Why? I’ll tell you why.
As reliable as they seem, their last moment ways create stress for the rest of us. When we travel with them, they arrive at the last possible moment to find us wondering if we should leave without them. Then they get insulted that we would consider such a thing.
If we need their input at work, they will give it to us at the deadline and wonder why we look at them with exasperation.
One of them probably woke me up at 4:29 a.m. this morning.
The rest of them will read this right before I write something else.