Many years ago, and I mean many, I was taught in religion classes that being late, or tardy as it was then called, was a sin. A sin of theft. The reasoning was that by being late you were stealing someone’s time. If a person was waiting for you and you didn’t show up when you were supposed to, that person’s time was wasted in waiting for you. Made sense to me.
Consequently, I’m always on time, to a fault. Actually I’m not so much on time as I am down right early.
Working for newspapers for 27 years, I learned about being on time, having to meet deadlines every day. If ever we ran late, I would get a pain in the back of my neck.
If the airlines want me to show up two hours before takeoff, I’ll be there with three to spare. If I have an appointment to have a haircut, get my teeth cleaned or lunch with the girls, I’m there well before the appointed hour, with plenty to spare.
Some people take pride in their lateness. I think it’s a power thing. If everyone has to sit around waiting for the late person, they are in that person’s control. There are those that are famed for their lateness.
People who make me crazy are the ones who always say, “Don’t worry. You’ve got plenty of time to catch the train/plane/ferry” when they have offered to drive me to make a connection. However, I’ve never missed a train/plane/ferry.
I was never late for school or work. My timecards were always punched when they were supposed to be. When attendance was taken, I was front and center.
I think people in general are more punctual in Vermont than where I came from. Whenever we invite people over, we better be ready to receive guests at the dot of time on the invitation. And if perchance they are a tiny bit off, they apologize profusely for being so late. The past few years we have hosted Kentucky Derby parties where the guests know that if they aren’t at the party by 6 p.m., there’s no point in coming, because the race is the thing and it starts at 6:05 p.m.
People who grew up in small towns in northern New England can remember the wail of the sirens at noon and 6 p.m. That system made sure that children knew it was time for lunch or dinner and they better not be late. A neighbor of ours in Stowe had huskies who howled along with the sirens twice a day. When once the whistles at the fire department malfunctioned, the dogs loudly barked exactly on time.
Three of my children started their lives by being late. I waited around for over three weeks for the first one to enter this world. The second and third took their own sweet times also, but the fourth arrived exactly on the date of the invitation.
I read once that Thomas Jefferson had a clock in every room of his home. Now, there was a guy who liked to show up on time.