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Does anybody really know what time it is?

May 13, 2013 - Carrie Olson
When 7 a.m. rolled around, I was still not there. 7:10, maybe, if you were lucky. I’m one of those … the people who can’t get anywhere on time. It started in high school. Before that, I was almost too on-time. I remember being one of the first kids in the building at middle school. I’d sit and read next to my locker for 45 minutes, waiting for the first bell. That all changed when I started overextending myself like many high schoolers do.

First, there was band. We’d have early morning practices for marching and jazz, and after school there was some sort of running practice for cross country or track. And almost every night I had theater practice – either at school or at the local community theater. And work. I worked any free night and weekends at the local grocery store. So I wasn’t exactly home much during that time period. Except to sleep. And I sure needed it. So when that alarm clock would sing, I’d shut it up – for probably a good 20 minutes more of sweet slumber. I’d usually rush to school with wet hair from the shower after a 15-minute get-ready rush.

Nothing really changed in college. I always took a large class load, 15 hours minimum/21 hours maximum. I was in plays with rigorous practice schedules, always had a job or two, and had found my way to a few university committees. Overcommitting myself is what I do best. And I always pushed the envelope on time. So I ran, disheveled to my classes, tried to shovel down food when I could, and that poor alarm clock was my most hated enemy.

Since that hectic, crazy time period, I can’t seem to get my clock to run right. I will try to get somewhere early, and something inside me says, “five more minutes.” Whether it was to work, to a party, to some sort of meet-up, it became kind of a joke that I would be the last to show up. Oh, I’ll get to doctor’s appointments right at the nick of time, but everything else was on the back burner.

Especially in the last few years. I worked at the newspaper from 2 to 10 p.m., and would get up to work from 7 a.m. to noon, most days, at a local coffee shop. It was, again, a rigorous schedule that didn’t allow for much sleep or downtime, so I fudged that time as good as I could. Of course, I always made it up, but still. One day, someone pointed out a quote about being late. It read something along the lines of, if you are late, you show how unimportant you feel that appointment (or person) is to you. And honestly, I agree, but that was never the reason why I was late. I was just so dang tired. But it abruptly slapped me in the face…for about a week. I returned to my ways soon after.

Since moving here, things have changed quite drastically. Perhaps it was because I became money hungry after not having a job, or because each appointment was far and few in between that I looked forward to something to break the monotony of my day. In any case, I’ve had to throw more than 10 years of being late conditioning out the window. Whether it was bartending, babysitting, or grabbing a drink with some friends, I have been on time. And with the first couple months of my writing and editing job under my belt, besides a couple train delays, I’m proud to say that my track record is flawless. There have been a couple instances where I have gotten lost in the city, but even then, mustered only to be a handful of minutes late.

If you miss a train, another one might not be around for 20 or 30 minutes, depending on what time of day and what area of town you are heading. Or you will miss your connection to another train. Time really is money here. So, unless you want to get fired or eventually have your friends just stop calling you to go out, you get your butt out the door.

That threat has made it simpler, but I have had to do other things as well. Instead of writing down chore and shopping lists like I have done in the past, I have written down a schedule for myself. Detailed with times I will complete the task at hand. Maybe that seems a bit childish, but it has been necessary for me. My cell phone alarm clock is set for various times: One to wake up, one to exercise, and one to get into the shower. And I have set things that I do within my day. At exactly 8:45 a.m. each morning, I have my daily video chat with my mom and niece Quynn. At that time, I have my lunch packed, bags ready, and am able to unwind and relax until 9:15. I say goodbye and head out the door by 9:20 a.m. for my train to work.

This new, changed “me” hasn’t been easy, but it has been necessary. And as I add more time scheduling to get personal writing done in the morning, I know that this scheduling technique will continue to be necessary for a long time down the road. And I’m hoping when I eventually move to a place where I don’t have to take the train every day and where a commute isn’t as hectic, I’m planning on taking my newfound “on-time-ness” with me. Not just because I want people to feel important, but to know that my own life is important and that time shouldn’t be squandered.


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