I’m the first to admit, I am woman with many bad habits…
Leaving tea bags on the side, my car is a tip and, my personal favourite, eating lime pickle from the jar – don’t judge, I love lime pickle, it’s the best condiment around and long may I continue to grab a spoon and tuck into a jar.
But there’s one habit I’ve picked up in the past few years that I absolutely cannot stand about myself; I am always late.
I have been late for meetings, coffee, nights out, meals out, appointments, work, absolutely everything.
The last few occasions I’ve had to catch a train have involved a sprint and I’ve ended up a hot, sweaty, mess.
In fact, the only thing I’ll be early for, is a flight. To the point where I want to queue to get on the plane the very second the gate is announced. It’s the one scenario where I know its pretty much impossible to be late and miss the flight (unless you’re a complete idiot), yet it’s the only scenario where I’ll insist on being super early.
My complete lack of punctuality is a new thing for me. In the past I’ve been a full half an hour early for interviews and had to linger outside like a weirdo, until 10 minutes before the allotted time where I’ll figure now is an acceptable time to go in and I inevitably need the toilet. I’ve sat fully relaxed on trains with everything I need for the journey set out a good 15 minutes before departure. I’ve spent the entirety of our ten-year friendship calling my friend Kate, ‘Late Kate’ because, well, I hardly think that nickname needs an explanation.
I want to be clear, I don’t in anyway think my time is more valuable than anyone else’s. I know it’s rude to keep people waiting. I read an article a while ago where some research had suggested that people who are constantly late think they’re special in some way, that the train will wait; I don’t think that either, I absolutely know that the train will not wait a few extra minutes for me – it’s leaving with or without me. Yet still, over the past two years I’ve had a complete inability to get my shit together to be on time.
I think being late is one of the worst things about me.
I’ve felt awful when friends have turned up ready to go out and I’m still slapping the make up on. I’ve been in a pure panic at being late for hair and nail appointments. I’ll curse myself every morning for not having left ten minutes earlier. I do honestly feel really guilty knowing that friend is waiting for me and I’m once again, late – I know I’m not being a very good friend and I am really sorry. I’ll be heading over worrying that they’ll think I’m a terrible human and that they won’t like me very much.
The real low point came a few weeks ago when, I very nearly was late for work…..from home.
I was mortified because there is literally no excuse, I mean what can I say? The traffic was bad on the stairs? Car trouble? Or there’s roadworks in between the kitchen and living room?
It was that incident in particular that got me thinking about my mindset and why it’s changed so dramatically.
Part of me thinks I’m rebelling to an extent. You see, on a breakfast or drive shift, I have to hit a deadline four times an hour – which I always do. In general, I spend eight hours a day working to a deadline and being required to be on a certain line at a certain time or having work ready for a certain time. I sometimes think that having that rigidity day to day has led to the teenager inside me rebelling and rejecting time constraints in my personal life.
I am aware that sounds like the biggest load of bollocks I’ve written and like I can bullshit my way out of anything by coming up with a ridiculous, yet plausible excuse but I do think there could be something in that, I’ve always had a rebellious streak.
I also think I’ve lost all concept of time and crucially, how long it takes to do stuff and get to places. Professionally I’m very organised, I have to be, but putting those same skills into practice in my personal life is something I just can’t manage.
For some reason, I’ve got it into my head that I either own a DeLorean or that things are a lot closer than I think. I will be certain that it’ll only take 5 minutes to get somewhere when actually it’s more like a fifteen-minute journey. I seem to have been able to completely convince myself that I live 20 minutes away from work, I do not it’s half an hour, at least.
I do not factor in the possibility of traffic, at all. I always think the road will be beautifully quiet, there’ll be no roadworks and every traffic light will be on green as I effortlessly make my way from A to B. I do not, on long journeys, factor in a toilet break, even though I know I have the bladder the size of a pea and I’ve been mainlining tea before setting off; it’s almost like I think I’ve suddenly acquired a cast iron bladder that means I won’t have to stop – I will always have to stop.
I completely underestimate how long it takes me to do any task or job. I mean I massively underestimate it. Similar to journey times, I think everything takes five minutes, it rarely does. With all the will in the world I’ll never be able to do my hair in five minutes, it’ll take me longer than five minutes to drink a freshly made cup of tea – I don’t have an asbestos mouth. That last job I need to do before leaving the office will not take a couple of minutes.
I used to be much more realistic when it came to time keeping but now it’s almost I’ve lost my grasp on that skill, completely.
I also get distracted, very, very, very, easily. Whether it’s by my phone, a book, the tv, other people, the squirrel that runs around garden or a random memory from 20 years ago, I will allow anything to distract from the task at hand and before I know it, I’m supposed to be somewhere in 10-minutes, and I’m sat in my dressing gown with wet hair.
I have tried and am trying to change my ways and be more organised.
I’ve tried tricking myself by changing the time on my work phone so it’s 10 minutes fast. It turns out it’s actually hard to trick yourself. I’ve tried leaving my phone elsewhere while getting ready. I’ll try not to start conversations and focus on the task at hand, but I can’t keep it up.
I feel like I need a PA or an army drill sergeant to follow me around shouting at me for a few weeks until I regain a concept of time and learn to organise my personal life effectively. If anyone fancies that role drop me a message but be warned I’m stubborn and a right pain in the arse.
Now, to my friends and family, I promise I’ll work on my tardiness. I will definitely be on time when we’re finally allowed to meet again. I’m sorry I’m always late, I don’t mean to be, and I definitely don’t think my time is more valuable than yours, I’m just shit at being organised. I love you all xxxx
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm