Timing is everything.
Take my morning commute. There is a small window of opportunity to make it through traffic in a reasonable amount of time. Five minutes one way or the other can make all the difference between a twenty-five minute commute and an hour and a half commute.
I am my own worst enemy when it comes to being on time even though I take all the precautions of which I know. I make sure to set the clock on my nightstand ahead by twelve minutes so that when I hit the snooze button, I’m still three minutes ahead of schedule.
If I just hadn’t checked my email before going to work, I probably wouldn’t have had any problems.
The Net was running slow that morning because I was in a hurry. I had forgotten that the fabric of time is cotton when the weather calls for wool. I remember back when I had first subscribed to America Online in the early 1990s, whenever I went online, I’d always have a book with me so I’d have something to do while I waited for the pages to load. If a page loaded in less than five minutes, or one good chapter, whichever came first, I was in good shape. These days if a search takes longer than zero point two five seconds, I’m having a conniption. This morning cyber space was sluggish and I was beginning to feel the agitation, the seeds of conniption, fester in my gut.
After finding nothing but spam, two chain letters from friends who ought to know better, and a couple of daily updates from newspapers, I shut down the computer feeling a little flustered that I had wasted so much time. However, I was only a few minutes behind schedule – nothing that a gentle five miles-per-hour over the speed limit and a few rolling stops couldn’t resolve.
I hadn’t even made it out the backdoor to embark on my morning commute when the top of my travel mug jostled off and coffee trickled down the front of my light tan khakis. I took a deep breath and stormed back into the house.
Back up in the bedroom I found I had a choice, I could either change my outfit completely, which would mean standing in front of the closet for eight to ten minutes trying to figure out what shirt matches what pants goes with what necktie while struggling to remember what color socks I had put on, or I could dig into the hamper and pull out my only other pair of light tan khakis that I had worn two days before.
I sat on the edge of the bed weighing my options when I looked down and realized I actually had two different color socks on. I kid you not, and believe me, this is no Freyism. Those of us who often get dressed in the dark are accustomed to such things. Now I had only to decide whether to go with the brown sock or the black one.
Fifteen minutes later I am finally in my car thinking about the maximum amount of speeding with the minimum amount of risk. If I go just eight or nine miles-per-hour over the speed limit, maybe blow through a couple of yellow lights, I could easily shave off enough time not to be late enough for anyone to really notice.
As I approached my first traffic light, I looked at my watch to check my time only to discover that, in my rush, I had neglected to put it on. At this point turning around was not an option, so I sought out signs for time.
According to the clock on my dashboard radio, I was about forty-five minutes late for work, only I couldn’t remember how far ahead I had set the time in the first place. Was it ten minutes? If so, I was okay. If it was twenty minutes, then I was in trouble.
I slowed by a bank and stared at the marquee sign. Free checking. APR financing. The car behind me flashed his lights. Home equity, come on, come on. Fifty-seven degrees. I passed the bank and saw the time on the sign through my rearview mirror, but I hadn’t had quite enough coffee make out the reversed numbers. If only I hadn’t spilled it.
Once at work I realized I really wasn’t all that late, a couple of minutes at best. I realized that it didn’t matter either, that time wasn’t something to taunt and trick, but something to embrace and enjoy like riches. I vowed to change my ways, to set my clocks to the one true time, and relax because when you get there, you get there.
I looked at my watchless wrist, hyperventilated, and made a note to set my alarm clock ahead five more minutes.