Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Problem with Punctuality

The problem with punctuality is that when you get there, no one is there to appreciate it. (Quote - from whom I have no idea)
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Whatever happened to the early bird gets the proverbial worm?  If my recent experience is any indication, that slippery little guy is going to live to a ripe old age. 

Punctuality seems to be as dead as a door nail.

If the watch fits, wear it.

For years I made my living in a corporate setting which could easily have been called "Meetings - R - Us".  It was not all that unusual for my admin assistant to call me as I was driving in to the office to inform me that one meeting had been postponed, but two others had been squeezed into the slot, "and by the way, there are three people lined up outside your office door who do not have an appointment, but who say it is urgent that they meet with you."

I just hated it when I heard myself sighing before 7:30 a.m. 

Amy would give me the rundown on the three surprise visitors' issues and say I had twelve whole minutes to deal with the most critical one.

 "Give that one a cup of coffee and tell her to take a seat; send the second one back upstairs and tell him you will call him if I get an opening this afternoon, and invite the third one to go wait in the Cedar Conference Room." 

(Yes, we went through our own eco-green awareness phase - didn't everyone in the nineties? - and our nod to it was that every conference room throughout the organization was re-named for a tree.  The Sequoia Room was for reserved for big shots ( subtlety was not our strong suite) followed by the Elm, the Oak, etc.  Someone from Southern California had once suggested the Jacaranda Room and nearly got fired.)

Where was I?  Oh, yes, the point is that for years, and years, my every waking moment was scheduled for me by those above me, below me, and beside me. 

The quickest way to commit career suicide was to be repeatedly late to a meeting, a conference call, a team huddle, or whatever they were calling the latest group-thugging. It was not only rigorous, it required the split-second-timing of a relay racer handing off the baton.  I was the only middle-aged executive I knew who had shin splints, and I was not a runner.

Around there, when they said, "Time is money" - trust me, they meant it.  And they were counting.

These days, most folks I run across do not even seem to think time is chump-change.  Dental appointment?  Take a good book, because it is going to be awhile before you are invited to say "ahhhh".

Last week I attended a 9:00 a.m. soiree.  When I arrived there were a few "early birds" roaming aimlessly around, wondering what to do with themselves until the thing started.  It was a whole five minutes before start time.  And half the seats were still empty.  By five minutes after, another twenty had strolled in.  About 9:35 the remainder finally took their seats.

It is a good thing I was in a good place, because otherwise I might have been tempted to "lose my sanctification" as they say where I grew up.  That is not something anyone should have to witness, so thankfully I hung in there.

My Dad always said, "If you are five minutes early, you are right on time.  If you are just barely on time, you are already late and behind the game."

I think he had a point. What ever happened to respecting other people's time?  When did it become fashionable to be fashionably late?

What if the surgeon said to the scrub nurse, "Just hold him open another fifteen minutes, and I'll be there after I finish this latte?"

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It is time for bed, and I dare not be late, because Holly (our Lhasa) will not be one minute late for her 6:00 a.m. food.  I tell you that dog has a sense of timing like a Swiss watch.  Big Ben could take lessons from Holly.  So could a few others.

And if either the *LOC or I do not spring from the bed to attend to her pitiful  hungry whimpering, she just may not come when called later on.  Let me tell you, around here, there is a price to pay for tardiness.

I ought to send Holly down to my next appointment with her handy-dandy little doggy-stop-watch.  That would put the fear of adverse canine karma into them. 

The real problem with punctuality is that it is a character trait that everyone says they admire, but no one wants to be BFFs with.  Punctuality is a lonely road ... but at least you move along at a pretty good clip. 
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  Meanwhile, I am considering whether to bury my watch in the backyard and see what might sprout.  Until next time (whenever that may be  - I'm trying to learn to be more flexible)  ... Marsha
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Question:  Are you among the timely, or are you a Jenny-come lately (or later, as the case may be)?  Just wondering.  :)
(*Lovable Old Coot)