Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Almost Perfectly, Exactly On Time

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to be too early. I like to be almost perfectly, exactly on time. Two, three minutes before, that’s me. Anything more feels just wrong. I’m happy to be early if you need me to be. I just can’t be early for me. I’ll go to incredible extremes, doing the math in my head, figuring out how long it takes to do each detail of my routine to know when I should leave to arrive two or three minute before I need to be on the scene.

Yesterday I did the reconnaissance and plotted the plan for an appointment today at 8. I had done the math three times over, using the Everyday Math I learned in school. I planned my apparel, my mode of transport, my route. every detail down to the slighted degree to fly right in my window of opportunity. I left room for a bad wind or two, or a walk if I got there early. This morning I breezed out of bed, got ready, got going. I strolled into the appointed hotel at exactly 7:56. Yes. Challenge set. Challenge met.

Upon my arrival, I located an appropriate space to put things back in place after the cab ride downtown. I came out with everything as it should be. I walked to the desk and asked for René, the person I’d meet. The young woman started to ring the room; then said, “Wait. You know, I think I saw her in the club. Let’s check.” But René had left the club it seemed.

Now I was no longer perfectly on time but then, neither was she.

The young lady pointed me toward a house phone which she dialed and handed to me. It rang right through to voice mail. The mystery grew wider. What had happened to this person I was to meet?

I had read a book once on how to make yourself miserable. I remembered 61 ways that the problem was me. If I had been early this wouldn’t have happened. A rolling sign screamed that message as it ran through my mind.

Thank goodness the young lady suggested that we check the restaurant. She led the way. I followed like a three-year who’d lost her mother at the mall. She found René, sitting with two others at a table by the window over there to the left. René came over to greet me. I introduced myself.

“Hi, I’m Liz,” I said. She looked at me with surprise.

“I’m René,” she said looking at me.

“We were going to meet at 8 today.”

She said, “Oh nobody sane has meetings this early. I meant 8 for dinner tonight. I can't change what I'm doing right now, but I'm going to buy you a fabulous dinner tonight! You pick the restaurant” We shared a delightful minute of verbal volleyball.

There I was more than two minutes early. I hate being more than two minutes early. It’s wrong—just wrong.
We promised to meet when we were supposed to. I got in a cab and headed back home. Now I have to do the math all over again. When I got home, I reread Rene's email. It said 8 p.m. plain as day.

Now I also need to find a way to explain how I could be 12 hours early
—when I like to be almost perfectly, exactly on time.
—me strauss Letting me be


Theresa said...

That's exactly me! I would've added another step, an email to reconfirm the time in the 24-hour mode! And people say I'm fanatic. Oh well. Thanks for the story :) And thanks for visiting my blog.

ME Strauss said...

Thanks for the comment. From this blog I'm finding that there are a lot of us people who are a lot alike out here.

Gone Away said...

I am the early bird - I plan to arrive 15 minutes early just in case there's an unforeseen hold-up. And then I have to wait 30 minutes because everyone else in the world is late. Will I ever learn?

ME Strauss said...

Ah Clive, your country is showing. *smile* Thank you for coming to see the blog.

Think of it this way, at least you and I get our 17 minutes together, before the rest arrive.

dog1net said...

I never mixed an "am" up with a "pm" before, but one morning I woke up an hour early before I normally do and somehow misread the time on my clock. I thought it read 7am instead of 6. In a panic I hurriedly dressed for work, and was surprised to see that my son had overslept, too. I rushed him out of bed and told him to get dressed quick. "Your bus probably came by 15 minutes ago," I said; "If you hurry up, I'll give you a ride. Ten minutes later we were out the door. When we got to the school, no one was there. "You have school today, don't you?" My son looked at me. "Yeah." We drove around the school amazed we were the only ones there. "What time is it," my son asked. Just before I said what I thought the time was, I looked at my watch. "Huh, it's only 6:30." My son looked at me. "Dad, you retard." We had a good laugh and then went and had breakfast at the diner.
You've posted quite a bit since I last visited. Will have to stop by more frequently. Did read "Cognac and Conversation." Loved your opening sentence. "Sometimes you recognize a lifelong friend in a sentence or two." It has a nice invitational quality to it. Thanks for reading my recent post and commenting.

ME Strauss said...

What a great story! I guess we're all sllowed a certain number of brain glitches in a lifetime. I like to think they add to the more human side of life. Thanks for your lovely comments.

I so enjoyed the piece I read at your blog this afternoon.


abeer said...

I can't help but identify with you. Though the choosing the apparel part is a bit over the top for me, but I'm somewhere there. ;)

ME Strauss said...

Thanks a beer. The choosing the clothes part comes from having gone to private school--uniforms--now I can't pick out my own clothes. Go figure. It's a disability. :)


michaelm said...

I'm very much the same way.
Punctuality is just another form of respect. When someone is paying me to be somewhere at a particular point in time it's my responsibility to be there. End of story.
I work with a guy that is habitually 15 minutes late and I mean habitually.
Drive me absolutely nutso.
That's the boss' business, not mine.
Still drives me nuts, though.
Sorry, Liz, but the am/pm screw up made me laugh.


ME Strauss said...

Don't be sorry . . . Michael, it mad me laugh too. That's why I gave the story the title I did. I had everything right, but that one "little" detail. Oops!