Perhaps it was already ingrained into my DNA, perhaps it is simple courtesy, but I have an unconquerable urge to be on time or even early for every appointment, showtime, event. Contrary to the stereotype that birthed “desi standard time,” I actually don’t like showing up tardy to the party. Coupled with my desire to help in the prep and breakdown of meetings, I often end up being the first to come and the last to leave.
My mother shares this punctuality gene with me. In part because of her night-blindness and in part because we didn’t want to miss the previews, we always attended movies well before the lights were dimmed. Ironically, one time she hustled my father to the airport gate so early that they almost missed their flight because a gate change had been announced while they were cozy and relaxed at the original gate number.
My father is more relaxed about arrival times. He takes his time while the rest of us wait by the door. He nearly missed my high school graduation. Today, however, it was my father who was anxious about getting to a doctor’s appointment on time. In an effort to ease his anxiety with “it’s okay, we’ll get there in time,” my mother uttered what has always been my benchmark for timing as well: “it’s not like we will be late for a flight.” Because THAT is the ultimate procrastinator’s punishment we fear the most.
When Gojira and I were racing against the clock to make our flight to Iceland after we traversed the island of Manhattan (twice). When my family was wildly driving through an ice storm and toll booths (again, NYC) because Mom’s military time calculations glitch (20:00 does not mean 10:00pm, it means 8:00pm) meant we only had one hour to make it from Ardsley to JFK instead of the three hours we allotted. When PIA screwed me over by changing my ticket from business class to coach and subsequently messing up my connections which meant I had to run to catch my flight even though my luggage didn’t make it. Many a bullet was sweated, many a curse word was mentally uttered, and many a Scarlett-O-Hara-fist-to-the-sky promise was made “never! to be late! again!” Note that this mostly only applies to travel. The “at least we aren’t going to be late for a flight” mantra to calm ourselves and others down for time-sensitive matters is kin to “nobody is going to die” or “this isn’t brain surgery” tagline we use for work-related crises. Both favorites.