Thursday, February 02, 2006

Can we go now? How about now? Now?

The clock said 8:30 a.m. Or did it?

The digital age has allowed clocks to be within eyesight from just about anywhere. In my house, I can always see the time. All I have to do is look at the toaster oven, the VCR, the DVD player, the clock radio, the PC, the washing machine or the iPod.

Problem is, they can’t agree with each other.

I think my wife is behind this. Like most women, punctuality is not her strong suit. Men are often called lazy but we're way ahead of women when it comes to getting our butts in gear and heading out the door.

It’s almost as if she is afraid to be on time. If, for some strange reason, the planets line up and she is actually ready at the appointed departure time, she will check her email, review her eBay listings, or wipe crumbs off the kitchen table. Then, checking the clock and seeing that we are now 10 minutes behind, she’ll announce that she is ready.

At least she realizes that tardiness is a fault. However, her way of correcting it is to set the clocks head five minutes.

“Why do you do this?” I ask her. “You know what the time really is by looking at the clock and subtracting five minutes. All you’re doing is adding math to the situation.” It’s like hotels that don’t have a 13th floor because of the negative connotations associated with that numeral. Do hotel employees really believe the guests on the 14th floor have no idea which floor they are really on?

The primary target for our tardiness is church. Our church service starts at 10 a.m. which, for the Schwems, means 10:10. Every Sunday we fly into the parking late and park illegally over a portion of blacktop adorned with horizontal yellow lines that say, “don’t park here.” Yet my wife drives a Lincoln Navigator, which lives by its own set of rules namely, “this car can go wherever the hell it wants.”

At 10:12 a.m. we march down the aisle, usually in the midst of the choir’s performance. Because all the pews are taken except the very front one, our tardiness is noticed by everybody. It’s simply impossible to avoid detection when you are late for church unless you can manage to sneak into the balcony without the sound of your shoes on the steps. This flaw has definitely been noticed by church personnel as we are no longer asked to be ushers, greeters, offering collectors or anything else that requires showing up before the rest of the congregation.

I have no patience, sympathy or compassion for anyone who is chronically late. It may be the one affliction that can be cured without drugs, counseling, 12 step programs, trips to the Caribbean or intervention from Dr. Phil. Yet I feel tardy people find punctual people annoying. After all, the first person to arrive at a party is looked upon kind of strangely by the host. Why is that? Somebody has to be first! Don’t sweat it. The next time the Schwems throw a party, come at 7:30 if that’s what the invitation says. I’ll be ready.

My wife will just be getting out of the shower.

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