Wednesday, July 06, 2011

How I Almost Learned To Be On Time

by CWK

Some people have a knack for being early. Those people do not include me. These early people have always mystified me. I've wondered if they have some innate advantage over the rest of us. Perhaps their internal clock was set fast in the womb? Perhaps they belong to a secret society that conspires to make the rest of us late? Perhaps they know something -- some secret -- which enables them to rush ahead of world clocks?

Here I present my stylized verson of the one conversation that changed me into an ‘early person' -- well, almost. I'm still working on it.

Have Fun Being Early

After years of chronic lateness, I asked my friend "Tom" (who is always 15 minutes early) how he did it. For security reasons, we will call this friend “Tom.” What was the secret? 

Tom looked anxiously around the room, and said in hushed tones, “Are we alone?”

“Yes,” I said, “I think so.”

“You can’t tell any of the others,” he continued, “what I am about to tell you is a secret that we ‘early’ people have kept since the dawn of time. It is dangerous to even be talking to you ... you late people.”

Then, he wrote a note on a slip of paper and passed it to me. The moment after I read the note I entered a new world. I understood.

So, what did the note say? (You might want to sit down)... the note said, “We have fun being early.”

At once, I understood exactly what he was talking about. I comprehended a world in which ‘early’ people are always laughing and breathing easy – a world with giant clocks set 10 minutes fast. Still, I couldn’t envision exactly what kind of fun he was talking about.

“Yes! I see it. But, what kind of fun?” I asked.

“Different kinds,” he said nonchalantly, “Me, I like to read. So, I always carry a book with me. That way, when I am early, I have more time to read.”

I realized then how much I was missing out on by being habitually late. I always thought I was missing out on something if I was early. What would I do if I arrived early? I would just sit around. Why not stay where I am, doing what I am doing, and soak up the last possible moment of being HERE? Why should I go THERE and do nothing.

I said as much to "Tom."

“Ah,” he said, “you and all the other late people have been deceived. Us early people are throwing parties, reading books, relaxing, taking a walk – all the while waiting for you to arrive. Then, when you late people arrive, we quickly sit down and get a disgruntled look on our face, look at our watch, and moaning, “Late again.”"

“Think about it,” he went on -- “You can enjoy life more if you're early. You can relax. You don’t have to rush. You don’t have to be constantly explaining yourself, or making up excuses for being late. You can slow down.”

“Slow down! Wow. That would be wonderful," I replied. 

He laughed a little and said, “Yes. Slow down your life... but I was speaking more literally. I meant slow down your driving. If you're early, you don’t have to speed everwhere you go. So, you won’t have to be constantly looking in the mirror for policemen. You’ll be able to drive the speed limit, and enjoy the drive.”

“Driving can be fun, too?” I said, aghast.

“You have no idea!” he responded -- "Driving is one of the best parts of my day. I drive in leisure, like I am my own Limo driver. Sometimes, I drive five miles under the speed limit so I can take in the scenery. Sometimes, I stop at the convenience store to get a soda, or a newspaper. Sometimes I put on podcast, and just enjoy it. Sometimes I get lost on purpose cause I know I am going to be way too early. I tell you, this slower world is beautiful to behold."

I was speechless thinking about the money I could have saved in speeding tickets.

“Not to mention,” he said after a long pause, “all the fun you will have at work.”

“Being early will make work fun?” I said, for the first time doubting him.

“Think about it,” "Tom" went on, “you won’t have to worry about what your boss will say if you are ‘late again.’ Who knows? You’ll probably get a raise if you boss sees you showing up 15 minutes early. You’ll never have to miss another important meeting. You’ll never have to apologize to another client for being late. You’ll always get the fresh coffee in the morning. The fun never ends.”

Tom went on for hours talking about all the fun he’d had as an ‘early person.’ He talked of great conversations, of friendships, of money saved, of opportunities redeemed.

I wish I could put down in words all that he said... but, sorry, gotta go. I’m about to be early somewhere.

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