Monday, September 06, 2010

Sunday Scribblings – “Wait”

Of all my positive character traits – FAR too numerous to start listing, my pretties - the one that has caused me the most grief over the years is the compulsion to be on time for appointments. Usually I’m not just on time, I actually get to my appointments early. If I'm late it's usually for reasons beyond my control, not because I started out with no time to spare.

When I was younger and possessed of less patience, I would start getting antsy about 10 minutes before the agreed time, and get progressively hotter under the collar for every minute past that time - so that if the person I was meeting was late by just 5 minutes, I’d still be seething. (Eventually it struck me that getting mad at the other person for not being early was a pretty irrational thing to do.)
After many instances where I’d waited at least 15 minutes past the appointed time, and a few where I’d been kicking my heels for a good half an hour, I decided that I too would show up late and make THEM wait for a change. Which was a very good plan of tit-for-tat revenge – or would have been, if only I could have followed through on it.

The problem was that I found it absolutely impossible to force myself to be late. For one thing, I always worried that the other person would end up having to wait – and yes, I know how idiotic it sounds, considering that was the exact situation I wanted to engineer. For another, I was terminally optimistic, telling myself that perhaps on THIS occasion they would be there on time... despite having never experienced any such thing. It was a shining example of is called the triumph of hope over experience.

Finally, after one too many occasions of waiting endlessly, I decided that I would from then on only wait 10 minutes past the agreed time – for anybody, for anything – after which I would either go back or go on, whichever option took my fancy. That worked a lot better, because it gave both me and my friends/family/acquaintances a firm cutoff time... plus, in those far-off days of the dinosaurs, when there were no mobile phones for instant information exchange or real-time updates, at least they would know to ring home and see if I’d gone back there or not.

When I met Pete, I was all optimistic once again, hoping that my luck had changed with regard to the waiting game. Sadly, that was not to be. He is possibly the least time-conscious person I’ve met – I mean, not even in the heady days of first acquaintance did he manage to meet me on time. At first I was inclined to take it personally, accusing him of being late because he didn’t care. But later, when I met his friends, they all reassured me that Pete being late for anything was a given – he was an equal opportunities latecomer, not discriminating against anybody by arriving on time.

That pretty much set the seal on my fate - always a waiter, never a waitee.


Flying Monkey said...

I could recognise myself in this so much...I'm also always early and always a waiter not a waitee

meerkat said...

why not do the reverse trick of changing the time in your watch/clock/computer/mobile to 10 mins late. that way you think (oh the mind is so gullible ) that you are going to reach their ten mins early, when in fact you are bang on time. instead of being an early erma (as opposed to a late lateef, lame i know but i got carried away by alliteration) , you can be on time. that way you still retain your moral high ground and look down condescendingly and disdainfully at those who show up late.

ps. i think i need to keep this mind if when we meet up ;)

gs batty said...

interesting you would hook up with Pete but I understand. I hate to be late but my wife thinks being late is acceptable. It took me along time to get used to that. I don't know why it didn't bother me when we were dating. Maybe I had other things on my mind.

Shyam said...

Flying Monkey: Too many waitees in this world :)

Meera: So which are you - waiter or waitee? :)

gs batty: Ahh... :) I forgive him this trait because Pete's very very ok in lots of other ways.

Anonymous said...

Once I waited for Balan from 10am to 4pm! (yes he showed up at the meeting point at 4pm and I was very much standing there!) Even after that I ended up marrying him! Have been calling myself the idiot of the world and then I ended up having two kids with him! what do you call me now? :-)


meerkat said...

shyam, i am reasonably punctual but i could be a few minutes late and come to find your disapproving visage looking down at me with your finger tapping your watch.

premlatha, wow, where were you waiting? public place or at home?presumably there were no mobile phones around to call and enquire

Pollux aka Paps said...

Shyam: maybe you are destined to be around us later comers... first me, then pete....anyone else?

Teesu (very very Indian, very very good) said...

I feel for you Shyam, I really do. :D Somehow I thought Athimbs would be a punctual person. Heh heh. Nice that he is unpredictable, eh? I LOVE being punctual and am quite 'out there' about valuing people's time etc. Have blogged about it too. However, for social dos, I have developed a practised art of late-coming. I don't know why. Not for one-to-one meetings, no, there am very particular, but for parties and general gatherings of people I arrive late and latest;)

Anu said...

LOL - loved the "waiter" and "waitee" bit!

Shyam said...

Prema: I'd call you amazing :) You waited a whole day? You're a better person than me, that's for sure!

Meera: You'll have a leeway of 10 minutes... although if I've travelled 4 hours to come and see you, I'd be very unlikely to return to Shrewsbury after 10 minutes of huffy waiting :)

Gee: Story of my life :)

Teesu: Why is being late EVERY TIME considered "unpredictable"? :) It's very predictable!

Shyam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shyam said...

Anu: thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

Ahh :-) I didn't mention where the meeting point was did I? :-) read below.

Meera, Yes, there were no mobile phones around. It was a public place, but a very comfortable place... a book shop! It was Higginbothams in Mount Road Chennai. But I was asked to wait outside (the shop was just a reference point), But I comfortably and happily spent my day inside! :-) came out now and then to check. Luckily I saw him walking towards the meeting point in one of my checking sessions. So I went out and stood there!