On Sunday, someone, somewhere wasted my time. My valuable time. I'm not saying it was any more valuable than yours--well, to me it was--but it was my Sunday time. Time that I could have remained at brunch with mes amigas. Not only did I cut short this pleasant Sabbath rendez-vous, but I held back; declining the mimosa, bloody Mary, and bellini, because I am professional and wanted to be on time for my appointment.
Instead, I gulped down gulletsful of inextravagant, bitter coffee. I listened with half an ear, checking my phone for the time, letting the conversation fog my hearing, as Brain rehearsed the lines I would have to recall later. I barely participated in the fast-paced chat, the camaraderie of four friends starved of each others’ company. I gasped monosyllables between mouthfuls of omelet and small pauses for breath. I nodded like a dashboard dolly, and retreated tortoise-like into my work-world.
The feta, red pepper and spinach omelet hardly hit the sides and was devoured at record, unsavoured, speed. I kissed cheeks, left money and ricocheted out of the door. I drove through the rain, unpacked the hefty cases from the car, tottered up the stairs to the front door, rang the doorbell and…
No one was there.
I had left messages confirming the appointment, had stood on the pavement a week before, shaking the woman’s hand, agreeing, with beaming smiles, the date, the time, the specifics. And yet, she was not there. My cell phone held no garbled excuses. She simply had not shown up.
Days later and the bile still bubbles. I’m pissed. I’m really pissed. I’m as pissed as a cow left standing in a cramped stall, knee-deep in shit, unable to walk away because its udder is caught in the milker. It’s not that it hurts exactly, it’s just feckin’ annoying and DISRESPECTFUL.
Dad—he Who Shall Not Be Named, because the internet is E-ville and, he’s not paranoid, but everyone is out to get him, and me, and any information I volunteer on the web will surely lead to my being raped and murdered and my thin and frail body torn limb from limb, (probably left by railway tracks)—has a military background. (Please E-ville internet, don't prove him right.) He plans with military precision. He is always early, never late, and, according to Dad, if you are on time, then you are late.
So Dad instilled this Dickensian credo into my head from a very early age, and I learned that if I was late, I better be bleeding from some unstaunchable wound, preferably, my eyes or femoral artery. It’s just the way it goes.
But times change. I used to be five minutes early. Always. Now? Not so much. In fact, as I have aged, so has my timing. It could even be described as a little on the vintage side, BUT here’s the difference: we have mobile phones now, so
if, when, I know I am going
to be late, I phone and I apologise, and I tell the waiting party when I will
arrive. I feel that this is a common
|Hello! Yes, running late. I seem to have lost my trousers.|
Sure, would it better practice to stick to Dad’s rule? Absolutely! But, I’m not Dad, and I am inconveniently side-tracked as often as British Rail. So hurrah for the modern cellular device! I should have “I’m on my way. Be with you in 5 mins,” saved to my favourites!
Crikey, we even have email, text, pager, twitter, FB…blah, blah, etc., etc., THERE IS NO NEED TO LEAVE SOMEONE DANGLING. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter if you fib and tell me your alarm didn’t go off, or you couldn’t find your car keys, or you forgot you had a dental appointment. I don’t care! Just text me!
Be creative! Tell me you were too busy frolicking in bed with Ryan Gosling, who just so happened to knock on your door last night for a cup of milky Ovaltine, and held you captive ever since. Message me that you were single-handedly damming a river and saving a drowning beaver! Leave me a voicemail that the Ellen Show just called and they are flying you out to California to appear in a contest because you possess the cartoonishly horrifying 'skill' of opening metal cans with your teeth. I’d just be happy to know that you respect me enough to make up a great lie so I am not left waiting.
When someone doesn’t text/call/send up smoke signals, they are clearly not thinking of you and believe their shit is more important than yours.
I have a special name for this type of person who thinks the world revolves around them, and is too rude to take a second out of their busy schedules to text/call you and tell you that they are not coming/ will be late… a WANKER.
Yes, a Wanker. There’s some regular Anglo-Saxon for you.
After a spoiled Sunday Brunch, sans mimosa, I got thinking about all the many and varied ways my time had been wasted and I had been left waiting, and how crappy, unwanted and unvalued this had made me feel.
Time Wankers, when you don’t show up, when you don’t call to say you are running late, do you realise you have an impact? Do you understand the ramifications of your inactions? I’m not being over the top, you have an effect. As I turned from the unopened door on Sunday, heaving my heavy bags down the perilous apartment stairs, as I schlepped the cases back in the boot of the car and drove down the road, a frustrated tear breached my defences. I didn’t crash, but I could have.
I know, not everyone who is late deserves the TW title. There are different degrees of Time Wankerage. I’ve narrowed it down to these basic categories:
And then, the Major-League-Bastard-Face-Slow-Death-Son-Of-A-Bitch-TW-Offenders.
I know quite a few Serial-and-thus-Expected-TW’s. It’s annoying, but you learn pretty quickly to antipicate their lateness. I have even made it rewarding and placed bets on their tardy timekeeping. They will blow in, 15 minutes late, gasping for breath, “having a bad hair day,” or complaining about the traffic. Really, it amounts to bad planning. Serial TW, you should have got up 15 minutes earlier, or you should have not taken that last phone call just as you were leaving.
I probably—alas—I definitely, fall into this category, so I’m not being a sanctimonious dickshit. However, I do text/call ahead, so no one is dangling. I like to believe this saves me from complete, irredeemable Time Wankerage.
Maybe, I'm the virtuous version. I know, I try to pack too much in, and there’s my downfall. However, there are Blatant Serial TW’s. For example: people who say, “Honey, we’ll go after the game. There’s only 10 minutes left of the quarter.”
Listen, Chump, you are blatantly lying! 10 minutes in any sport, especially American Football, is NEVER 10 minutes. You are just leaving your poor partner dangling because you want to sit your idle arse on the sofa, and you don’t want to shop. You are probably secretly hoping for overtime, aren’t you? You have your fingers crossed--hidden down your trousers--that she will sigh, shrug, shoulder her handbag and go without you. You may be in touch, giving constant commentary on the state of the game and the minutes and seconds left, but if you know 10 minutes really means a whole feckin’ hour, please respect her time. She could be doing something interesting. Like licking the windows.
Funnily enough, ma amiga told a tale at brunch, that illustrates this type of oblivious disrespect, wonderfully. Picture the scene: a lush, green animal-rescue haven nestled between creek and hillside somewhere in the wilds of northeast PA. The farm is home to ma amiga and her menagerie of animals she has saved from perilous fates. Let’s not mince words: death. She has saved them from death, often nasty, painful, slow, neglectful death. So here she is, this one-woman band, grateful for volunteers and donations for her non-profit.
Out of the blue she was contacted by someone, somewhere, who wanted to come and see the animals. The someone, somewhere, it turned out was traveling quite a distance to visit, so ma amiga kindly offered her the guest bedroom. She’s a nice lass, ma amiga.
The guest bed was made up, dinner was prepared, wine was bought--the nearest State Liquor Store being over an hour away--and other guests were invited to welcome this visitor. All was ready and waiting. Waiting being the inoperative word. Ma amiga, grew red-faced for her guest, as the minutes ticked by, accompanied by the sounds of hungry stomachs gargling. An hour passed. Another hour passed. At what hour the visitor telephoned, I don’t recall--I was gulping coffee and omelet as the story flowed—but she did call, several times, to say “I’m coming, be there soon.” Fine, fair enough. If it were true. But IT WASN’T!
The night drew in, the heavens opened, the fire was lit, the dinner got burned, the dinner got cold, the dinner was eaten, and FIVE HOURS after the appointed time, the visitor walked in. No apology. No seeming embarrassment, just an 11pm energy and hunger to demolish everything in sight, including a whole bottle of wine.
To add her already alarming Time Wankerage, the visitor tried her best to completely shanghai ma amiga and make her complicit in her TW shenanigans. In the morning, the laggard would not get out of bed, in spite of the fact that the whole point of her retarded trip was to visit the animals! Ma amiga had specifically told the visitor that she needed to leave to get to her appointment on time, but Visitor’s inert and then slow-moving oblivion, made ma amiga’s well-planned morning, a trying one. That’s TW 1-0-1.
Wow, that’s quite some title you have to earn there. What do you expect? We are out of the Minors here. This is full-frontal effrontery. Someone who disrespects you to your face. Who smiles and says they will be somewhere or do something without any intention of it ever being so.
I hear of many of these TW's in the workplace. Bonuses dangled and held ransom. The end prize held captive by an inefficient, nonchalant party, happy to just let you hop from foot to foot like a constipated pigeon.
MLBFSDSOBTW is not reserved for bosses and obstructive co-workers, but it can rear its retarded head in relationships too: to the friend who has been dating her chap for ten years and he STILL won’t commit… he’s a Wanker; to ma amiga who has had to serve papers twice, because he STILL won’t sign… he’s a Wanker; to the girl, struck dumb with disappointment, waiting for something to change, but he never notices… you are the Wanker, because you have to make the change, or say or do something!
It is an over-used expression nowadays, but the phrase, “He’s just not that into you,” can fit most TW scenarios. Whether dating or not, when you enter into a relationship with someone, be it business, friendship, marriage, there are rules of engagement. These are unstated, but generally the rule is that, if you want to retain the services/good feeling/ sexual favours in said relationship, then you treat the person with respect. You don’t leave them dangling, penis or pencil in hand. If you are late, or busy, or aren’t interested, TELL THEM. Then time can be spent more productively working/socializing/shagging someone else.
I’m probably being just a smidgen hypocritical here. Have I left people dangling? Err… Jeremy Paxman “Yesssss,” but, my time management, or lack thereof, is never meant maliciously. And funnily enough, it is often those I care most about who see the Ennie McLatekins, because I know/I hope that they know, I am doing my headless poultry thing, trying to catch rain with my fingers splayed, whilst juggling ten feral, rabid cats.
Mum and Dad, when you phone me and I bark down the phone, “I’M VERY BUSY,” I am sorry. Please don’t take it personally, it’s just … I am trying so very hard to get things done, to meet deadlines and people, to be on time and not let anyone down, to not be a Time Wanker, that I end up being Barky the Bitch. I’m really trying to do what you taught me and be respectful of everyone else.
We are all busy. I understand that. But next time you know that someone, somewhere is waiting for you, be kind and tell them straight. Don’t be a Time Wanker. Daddy wouldn’t like it.