I remember maybe the fifth or sixth time I went to my current therapist; I rang her doorbell (her office is in her house) at exactly 3:00 pm as usual, which has always been my appointment time. She answered the door with her usual smile. We said hello, and I proceeded down the small flight of steps to her therapy office. She has no waiting room, so she asks her patients to wait in their car if they are early, which I did. So on this day, as I was taking off my jacket, she passed me and said, “You’re on time?”
Hmm? I thought her question was a bit strange, but I simply answered “Yes. Is that OK?”
“Of course!” she responded. And no more was said on that topic that time.
A couple sessions later I arrive again at 3:00 pm. Or should I repeat, exactly at 3:00 pm, as usual. I sit down and see her looking at me strangely. She then asked “You really are a very punctual person, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am, Dr. P. You mentioned that before. Would you prefer that I arrive a few minutes late?”
“No. I just don’t have many patients that arrive consistently at their appointment times, on the dot.”
“Well, I’ve always been very punctual. In fact, everyone in my family is punctual. My parents, siblings, everyone in my family!” I emphasized with some amusement. “I’m afraid that’s probably how it’s always going to be with me, unless you request otherwise.”
Actually, I arrive at my therapist’s street at least 15 minutes early. Because of her strange interest in my punctuality I started to park my car first down the end of her street so she can’t see that I’ve arrived so early. I spend that early time looking at nature, listening to music, or playing on my phone. Then exactly one minute before 3:00 pm I drive to her driveway, get out, and walk to her door to ring the bell.
Throughout my life I’ve actually arrived most places 15 to even up to 30 or more minutes early. I guess partly because I get very nervous if I’m late, which I rarely am if I go anywhere by myself. Also, I have always relished the time before things start to almost meditate, in a sense, or chill out. I remember when I was in college most of my classes were on the main campus across the street from several “grease trucks”. I was a regular there, and each day when I got off the university bus, the grease truck guy would start preparing my Earl Grey tea with milk and sugar. It would be ready and on the counter when I reached his window. That impressed me! I’d chat with him for a minute or two and then go to the classroom. I was often the very first person there. I’d sip my tea with great pleasure in the quiet room. It truly was one of the simple pleasures of my life at the time.
I don’t believe that I was tardy for anything more than a couple of times in my life up until maybe age 26. Or maybe I was never tardy before then. Who knows! So what happened at 26? I met my husband.
My husband is originally from Czech Republic. I’m not sure if tardiness is commonplace there, but I had always heard about Europeans liking to be “fashionably late”. The first time I had to go somewhere with my then boyfriend, I learned that leaving early was not in his nature. In fact, early in our relationship I noticed that he’d be in the middle of something and I’d be nagging him to get ready. He’d FINALLY get up and say, “I have to go to the bathroom.” I’d be thinking that he would be quick, but the clock would be ticking and ticking and still he was in there. What in the heck was he doing in there?
“Are you reading in there or something? Or do you have some kind of major “issue”? We’re going to be late!” I’d say with annoyance, or even maybe yell with extreme frustration.
“I’ll be out in a minute!” he’d yell back. Or maybe he’d even shout “Calm yourself!”
My blood would be simmering and I would be pacing back and forth with clenched fists and jaw. “Alright! Let’s go! We’re already going to be late!”
“Don’t worry about it, Cindy!” he’d bark back.
So when he’d FINALLY come out, it would already be almost the time we were expected at our planned destination. I’d already have phoned the people we were supposed to meet to tell them we would be late. He’d of course dilly dally getting ready, and by the time we were finally in the car I’d be cursing him to “you know where” either in my mind, or I’d at least be snippy the whole way to our destination and harping on his lateness.
Despite becoming an unwilling and anxiety-laden “late person” with my boyfriend, we stayed together and even married. I have to say it took maybe six years for me to finally accept the inevitable. I learned that one hour bathroom sessions, reading the Economist or looking things up on his phone, and/or “something else”, were just part of his nature and would not be changed. I learned to tell him that we were due somewhere at 4:00 pm, when we were really due at 5:00 pm. That helped solve the issue so that we did in fact arrive at 5:00 pm or at least 5:15 pm. Or, if he knew the needed arrival time and we were indeed late, I just breathed in and said “It’s OK! It doesn’t really matter! OK! Yes! OK!”
I guess when you have any complaint about a spouse you either learn to find some kind of humor in it, or you are perpetually angry. Luckily, with time, and bipolar disorder moodstabilizers and antipsychotics, I’m pretty much OK with anything…almost. I guess I’m still usually extremely punctual if I go somewhere myself, but even I’ve arrived late to places from time to time in recent years. Is hubby wearing off on me? Or is it the medication? LOL! Who knows! Anyway, just for fun, I looked up characteristics of perpetually tardy/late people and found the following humorous article on Time Magazine’s website: