Science says I’m not an a**hole

Clocks at Great Northern in Manchester, UKI’ve had a problem with being late since I can’t remember when.

People fuss at me about it. They’ve even tried to compensate for it by telling me something starts earlier than it does.

Okay, that may have only happened once, but now I just assume everyone around here is telling me I’m late when I actually have gobs of time. The moral of which is you should never lie about the time to a tardy person. It’s bound to backfire.

But backfire on whom? Me? The lying liars waiting on me? It’s a stupid kind of karma.

Pondering this sort of thing usually makes me late.

I’m not the most tardy person I know. There are people I know who will do things like say they’ll come for dinner on Friday at six … and then show up the next day. Honest to God.

If I say I’m going to be somewhere at a specific time, I almost always show up on the same day.

Having kids hasn’t helped. It’s one thing to get myself anywhere on time, but for the past sixteen years I’ve been responsible for other people, too. People who have been known to do strange things, like decide they hate wearing pants, just before we need to head out the door.

I know my chronic tardiness makes me look like a self-important, inconsiderate asshole. That’s not it at all. I’m really humble about my lateness and I truly wish people would just start whatever it is I’m late for without me. I’ll catch up. I promise.

But then I discovered there’s research that explains why I’m not such a bad person for always being late. It’s science.

Have I ever told you how much I freaking love science? Well, yeah.

Science says that my tardiness means I’m an optimist. And although science doesn’t necessarily say that optimists aren’t also assholes, I’m willing to bet that there are far fewer optimistic assholes than just really well meaning, creative, laid back people who are in perpetual catch-up mode.

So cut us some slack you prompt people.

Besides, even when I make every effort to be on time, it creates problems. Like BIG problems. Rip-in-the-space-time-continuum-type problems. It’s almost like the universe has to restore balance in some way that could have terrible, no good, awful consequences.

I’m working on getting a scientific study started to prove this idea, but in the meantime, take Wednesday night as an example.

I had a writing workshop starting at 6:30. If anyone’s I’m late, they’ll just sit there and stare at each other until whoever the asshole is I show up. I’ve never had to catch up. Never. It’s a terrible burden, this knowledge that they’re just sitting there, staring.

I know, right? What jerks. Waiting for me. Gah.

About five minutes before I left the house, the sky opened up for an amazing rainstorm, the kind that uproots trees and makes rivers in the street that can sweep people out to sea.

Our little high desert town’s storm drains must be mostly just for show because we get maybe seven inches of rain all year long. Last night we got about half of that in a half hour.

As I headed downtown, water was shooting out of manhole covers like geysers. There were places on the road where the water was so deep I was pretty sure my little car would float away. Still, I’d left in plenty of time. I could go slow, and take it easy and still slide into my chair before class was actually supposed to start.

I turned down one street and there was a truck turned sideways. People were making u-turns and coming back my way. I followed suit. I turned down another street where there was road construction and a flagger.

I thought oh man, that poor gal, out here in this torrent.

She started to wave me on, then dropped her waver thingie in a puddle. Her sign said “slow” so I drove past her, swerving out to make sure I didn’t splash while she was groping around in the street.

She yelled as I passed. I stopped and opened my window a crack to let water blast me in the face.

“You need to go down that way” she did her little karate chop motion with her whatchamacallit waver thingie.

So, I went down “that way,” which was actually the way from which I’d come, and through a bunch more puddles that were becoming ponds and noticed my gas gage was on empty. I’d probably be pulling into the parking lot on nothing more than fumes, which was okay, because I wasn’t sure that my waterlogged car would actually start again after becoming an impromptu amphibious vehicle.

I got turned back around and on my route, but still had to make my way through standing water and floating manhole covers. Oh, and then make way for emergency vehicles flying by because it was the freaking END OF THE WORLD and the rain was coming down in sheets that made my under-utilized wipers stutter across my windshield. I imagined my car lifting up off the pavement and I wondered if I could paddle to class. Then lightning flashed directly over my head followed a crash of thunder that almost made my teeth fall out.

It was like God saying Sister, you need to simmer down about this whole being on time thing.

Buy then it was already 6:35, but I figured I couldn’t be the only one who was just about struck by lightening, and maybe they’d even cancelled class, but I was going to soldier on. Everything would be okay, I thought, my car wouldn’t be swept away, my wipers would continue to almost function, neither lightening nor speeding fire engine would strike me.

I think this way because I’m an optimist. See how that works? That’s science.

I pulled into the parking lot where three guys stood in the rain arguing, blocking me with their inflatable raft and life jackets and paddles and I wondered if this is what it had come to. Thirty minutes into the rainstorm of the century and already people were giving up and converting to stuff that floated because this was the new normal.

They noticed me and stopped arguing to move their stuff out of my way, and I was patient because I made it here without my car floating away and if it was too waterlogged to start again later, maybe these dudes would stop arguing long enough to give me a ride home in their raft.

And I wondered if I may even be early compared to the rest of the group, because nobody could be prompt on a night like this one.

But, nope.

I walked into the room and everyone else was already there, waiting. All hope I may have had of not looking like a selfish asshole was gone. I compensated by offering up a space in the raft later to anyone interested. The dudes would abide.

I’m going to keep trying to be on time. There’s always next week. Or maybe the week after. One of these days it’ll happen.

But maybe, if this week’s weather is any indication, I should stop trying so hard to be prompt because the universe is clearly against that, and my pushing will just continue to make things worse for everybody. And you all don’t want to have to go out and buy life preservers and canoes and crap like that, do you?

See? Optimistic and thoughtful. Look at all I do for you people.


After all I do to prevent rips in the space-time continuum, the least you could do is vote. One click on the banner below and that’s it (thank you).



Photo by Alex Pepperhill

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  1. I have the opposite problem. I\’m not capable of being \”fashionably late\”. Even when I try to be late (say for a party), I end up 5 minutes early and have to drive around the block 6 times to not be that person who showed up on time for a party.

  2. I flip flop on everything, including being early/late to whatever scheduled event. I wish I could either be consistently early or consistently late. But either way, no worries, you are no asshole. And I hope I can say I\’m not either either! 🙂

  3. I used to always be prompt, but something strange is happening. I\’ll start to leave for something but then remember I have to comb my hair, or put the dog out, or start a load of laundry. By the time I\’m done, I\’m running late. Am I sabotaging myself? Maybe I secretly want to be a late person. Hmmm…

  4. Hahaha this is a very cute post! I am never super late I am always just the one that\’s 5 minutes late. You know, when your group of girls is waiting to be seated at their table but they can\’t because \”Shaina\’s just pulling up\”. Better late than never I say!! 😀

    1. I\’m not super late either, but I always need a 5 minute cushion. I was just at a meeting today where I showed up 10 minutes early, and the receptionist said \”oh, 10 minutes early isn\’t early. It\’s right on time.\”

      For real? This is a thing? That\’s horrible!

  5. Hey, that was an interesting and funny post — and also food for thought! Has science really discovered that people who arrive late are optimists? Only, I wonder what that says about me. I usually turn up ridiculously early for everything and then circle around and around the block until I\’m walking in a rut and my head is level with the sidewalk. I\’m guessing that this is not a good sign.

    1. Yes, science has apparently figured this out. I don\’t know what that says scientists are doing with all their time. As far as prompt people go, I\’m not going to go any further than to guess you\’re just perpetually frustrated by us tardy people. 🙂