Punc-tu-al-it-y.

“Hmmm….we’re cutting it a little bit fine……as usual,” I said, sheepishly, to my  12 year old daughter as I pulled out to drive to a show in the city. It was 6.45pm, and the show started at 7.30pm.

My daughter is used to me “cutting it fine” everywhere we go together, so she merely shrugged. What’s new?

We live about a 15 minute drive from the city, but allow time to find a park, (What’s that you say? Carparks? Yes, I’m aware of their existence, but I don’t believe in paying upwards of $15 just for the privilege of parking my car) and walk to the event from wherever I ended up parking……and we would be cutting it fine. There might even be running involved.

Why do I “cut it fine” every where I go? Believe it or not, this trait has sometimes been known to result in my actually running late for things. Gasp! Yes, it’s true!

I have been known to run the last leg of a few trips in my time – I’ve galloped through theatre foyers as the bell rings, run up the street to at least one job interview, and trotted hurriedly into various workplaces via the back entrance in the hope that it will look as though I’ve been there for half an hour already. (Naturally, in case my boss is reading this, my current workplace is not included in that last statistic!)

running late

Someone running late....obviously.

There are a few reasons for my propensity for cutting it fine. For one thing, when I was growing up in the country, I had two options if I wanted to hang out with my friends, who lived a 25 minute drive away in town. Either I asked my father for a lift, (at least a day in advance since he had 5 other kids to chaffeur around), or I worked around the local bus timetable, which meant that if I wanted to be at a friend’s house by 6pm on a Saturday, I’d have to catch a bus at 10am, because there was no other bus on Saturdays.

As I saw it, just one of the many reasons for moving to the city when I was 18, was for the independence, ease, and efficiency of travelling. I could go wherever I wanted to, whenever I felt like it. (Or at least, between the hours of midnight and 5am, when the public transport was running!) Ah, city life – that was the life for me!

20 years later, I still tend to plan travel as though this myth were true. If driving, I usually leave at the last possible moment, and I don’t make any allowance for the possibility of heavy traffic or the breakdowns and accidents that can bring the entire freeway system to a crawl. Luckily for me, my drive to work most mornings takes under 15 minutes, so even though I leave at about 8.50am, I’m still usually there before most of my colleagues. (To my boss, if you are reading: see?).

It’s the same with public transport.  I tend to estimate the trip as though the train/tram will depart the moment I need to catch it, a bit like the Knight Bus in Harry Potter*. Why don’t I factor in waiting time, in case I miss a train? Because that is too boring! The train trip to the city from where I live is that magic figure – 15 minutes. Allowing for waiting time would double the time I allow for travelling! Reminder: I moved to the city so I wouldn’t have to spend hours of my days travelling.

Knight bus from Harry Potter

Looks like the Cadbury bus, but much faster.

I will admit that there is also an element of impatience in my travelling style. (I hear your tones of surprise. Impatience? Surely not?)

I can’t stand waiting around – which is what happens if you are early for something. My life is so busy, that I am certain I can use every minute, to do something else! It seems a waste to leave home 3 minutes earlier, only to find myself standing at a station for 3 extra minutes, with nothing to do but check messages on my iphone.

Finally, I have an aversion to planning. Well, in my personal life, anyway. (At my current workplace I have a name for being “the most organised person they have ever met!”) Outside of work, I prefer to let my life come together organically as I wander through it, which admittedly can be annoying for certain other people. So, for example, in matters of travel, I tend to leave when I’m ready to leave, rather than check a timetable and leave when I know there will be a train in 12 minutes time. Boring.

Time won’t wait for you. It’s a lesson that I constantly tell my daughter, since time means nothing to kids. They don’t realise that if they watch tv right through to bedtime then there won’t be time for a story as well. It’s a lesson you’d think I’d have learned by now.

But despite all my lectures to my daughter, there we were, cutting it fine, again, and it was totally my fault, not hers.

Yet somehow, as so often happens, we just made it! On this particular night, in fact, I was proven wrong about time – it  did wait for us! After running about a kilometre from the car, and breaking the news to my daughter that we were going to miss the beginning, the show started late!

Time. I thought it just marched on, but apparently, sometimes, those times when it doesn’t really matter in the bigger scheme of things, it takes pity on you.

*Thought I would never make a Harry Potter reference, but there it is.

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