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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm Late

I can't remember the last time I posted so late in the day.

Are you mad at me?

You should be: I am.

In case you didn't know-- my life is an endless stream of worries, and most of those worries center around being late for things. Appointments, meetings, rehearsals, television programs. If I'm late for my morning shit, I'm immediately convinced I have anal cancer.

Punctuality isn't, I don't think, a trait that's held in very high esteen nowadays, and I don't even remember how it managed to become my particular little bugaboo, but it definitely is. I think about it constantly. Hell, let's just throw the goddamned "O" word out there and get it over with.

I "obsess."

Yes, that's more like it.

It all has to do with image, unfortunately-- not what we see ourselves as, but how we want to be seen by the people with whom we interact. I've never wanted, or hoped, to be seen as cool or sexy or even intelligent. I have, though, always been obsessed with being viewed as "dependable."

To me, if somebody had that adjective carved on my headstone after the anxiety-propelled stroke that will no doubt end my life prematurely, that would be the highest compliment I could posthumously ask for.

Now, if you're thinking to yourself, "Dependable?! Aim higher, Apron," then I would have to inform you that that truly is where my aspirations begin and end. I've never wanted to be anything else.

Back in the heady, carefree days of 2002, when I left the optical shop where I worked to begin my two day stint at the police academy, my boss gave me a card, and a $100 gift certificate to a fancy restaurant. Though I love me my ritzy eats, the sentiment expressed in the card was inestimably more valuable. It was addressed to:

"To the Most Trustworthy Employee Ever"

That salutation made my heart sing. Isn't that sad?

My boss knew that I would arrive at work every morning at 8:15am, sometimes even earlier. The store did not open on weekdays until 10:00. He knew he could leave me with the key to the door and to the register. He knew he could leave cash lying around when I was there alone. He knew I was, well, dependable. And though it's not a lofty aim by any means, it was at least one that I could consistently achieve.

To me, being on-time for things, or, in my case, early, is a very easy way to show people that you're somebody who gives at least half a shit. When I'm somewhere and somebody who's expected to be there at 10:00 walks in at 10:20, to me, they sail into the room followed by a fetid wafting breeze of apathy, excuses, laziness, incompetence and, yes, dishonor. Maybe your car's radiator blitzed on you. Maybe the SEPTA bus driver had a heart attack. Maybe you had to Crisco your triangular cat's sides because it got stuck in the pet-door. Okay, but those excuses wear pretty thin pretty quick. Most excuses, in my mind, are just that.

I know, I know-- I have unrealistic expectations of the world, right? And I have those same unrealistic expectations of myself. Fair, unfair-- it doesn't matter, that's just the way it is. I'd probably be different if I were medicated, but I'm not, so there we are.

I took a graduate level psychology course in addictions a little while back, and we had to participate in a "change" project, where we identified a problem area in our lives and work on adjusting it. I chose my obsession with lateness. I identified the problem as I was on I-76 in a vain effort to get from Center City to my graduate school classroom, forcing my overworked, underpowered PT Cruiser to attain speeds of over 80mph. The obsession, which was once comical to people who know me, was getting serious, and dangerous.

In class, I talked the talk about how I was exploring the consequences of whatever manufactured lateness I might allow myself to attain, how I "realized" that I would suffer very few if any negative consequences from being late, how people wouldn't hate me or think I didn't care about anything if I was late, but, in the end, that was all horseshit. I have no doubt that my instructor, a licensed psychotherapist, smelled that seeping from my ass-crack from a mile away.

"You should really see somebody about this," she said to me one day after class.

"I know," I said, smiling, "but that would just be one more appointment I'd be petrified of being late for."


  1. Mr. Apron. Oh how you fill day with sunshine. I love your writing style and view on life. Your blog is one that I check daily so you being late today threw my blog reading off schedule...Just kidding!! Thanks for my very first comment!!

  2. My husband has the same issue. AND he holds everyone else to the same highly obsessive standard. It wears me out. SERIOUSLY wears me out!

  3. Haha! I love your blog because I can so relate. I like to be known as dependable too and nothing pisses me off more when someone shows up late for something. To me, it makes them seem like they think they are so entitled as to make everyone else's schedule revolve around theirs and that's just rude. You're a great writer, very funny.


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