As a New Englander I learned early on all about the power of punctuality: in school assemblies where kids who hadn’t been tardy a single day all year received gold-seal emblazoned certificates, in the ringing of the bells around the campus I grew up on, calling the boys to class, and in the boys, the ones perpetually risking tardiness, running running running. But ironically enough, the word “punctuality” transports me to Ireland, to my daughter’s tales of Sister Perpetual, during recorder lessons, with a ruler beating time against her music stand, and punishment on the backs of young girls’ hands.
With a dry mouth and a handful of grapes, I frequently run out my door on lazy weekend afternoons or on school mornings to meet a friend. I may strive for punctuality; instead I flirt with time. Rather than leave early, I play a masochistic, heart-thumping game to shrink transportation to an impossible slice of time. It is not always worth a five-block sprint to meet a friend for coffee—occasionally, my friends arrive late as well. But I feel most guilty around Claire, my forever-punctual friend, who quietly waits in snowstorms or heat waves and never complains.
Hi all, I wrote on “traffic,” since I didn’t get a chance to check the topic earlier today:
I’m in a train on my way Charlottesville, and I’m looking out the window at the traffic. There is quite a bit of it, as usual. The people in the traffic are probably fuming. They’ll complain about it to their spouses when they arrive home. But really, it’s pretty incredible. Traffic works. The signs tell where to go, are placed exactly right — and there must be thousands of them. Traffic lights are in concert with each other. Lanes appear and disappear in apt places, and everyone manages, eventually, to get where they need to go in their thousand-pound weapons.
Having a car at Midd allows you to assess how punctual different people are. I like those people who are slightly on time – meaning they are slightly late. Here’s my reasoning: I like a few moments to relax, to slow down and wait in my car. Notice how I say moments, not minutes. I like to send a few texts to friends to let them know what the game plan is. I like pushing my numbed fingers towards an all too precise key pad, occasionally misspelling a word or two. I hate the period after the text is sent. I hate doing nothing.
In high school I was chronically twenty minutes early. Meeting friends on the corner of 23rd and Cherry made me sick of clocks- the social construct of time is separate from the science.
I would arrive, standing by the gas station where I was once called an angel, and wait. A piece of trash moved five inches in the first minute. The next five minutes would be spent tearing up leaves and tossing them to my feet marking seconds passed.
If they didn’t come to the corner before one minute after the hour, I called.
I used to be the kind of person that was absolutely terrified of being late. I would always be getting places like 20 minutes early. Over the past year though I have realized that there is a lot to be said for being on time but being 20 minutes early somewhere is actually kind of ridiculous. But we walk a fine line because what if there is traffic, or maybe your car decides to stop running, or a giant earthquake happens just minutes before you need to be somewhere….I think I’d rather risk being late than worry about all those things anymore…..
To be early, is to be on time. To be on time, is to be late. To be late is, well, just unacceptable. So don’t do it. That initial rule is what I remember most from that summer. After 6th grade. It’s funny how random some of my most vivid memories are from years past. The director made it clear that punctuality was essential. I was at my future high school for band camp, yet what I remember most has nothing to do with muscial technicality. Maybe if I had paid attention past that initial requirement, I would still be playing my flute and possibly pursuing music education rather than sports psychology – but who knows? Maybe I would never be on time.
In the United States, if you are not on time for class, the professor might lower your grade but he/she will never forbid you to enter the classroom. You just go in as inconspicuously as possible and find yourself a seat somewhere at the back. In Bulgaria, however, you’d better be punctual. If you happen to be late, you have to politely ask the professor for permission to stay. He/she might welcome you to the classroom, tell you to leave or require you to stand throughout the lecture. Some professors even lock the door after the start of the class.