A Lament For The Perpetually Punctual

For anyone who has ever wanted to clock someone.

For the on-time ones, the show up ones, the already there ones. Those who keep no one waiting, let no one down. We are the rocks, the sturdy trees blooming in regular course among a field of oddly flowering willows who can’t get their shit together. We are simply too trusting. They said seven. They did not mean seven.

We are special, unique, chaffed. How many times have we dreamed “on my way” really meant that? How long have we stood in lines, ordered drinks standing at packed bars, having our bags bumped into by every single goddamn passerby, unable to sit down at a perfectly laden table due to the absence of our complete %$@# party? The lies we’ve told to hostesses, the lies we’ve told for you.

An oh, 15 minutes, you changeling. How you’re what you say you are, or triple your own value, depending on who is uttering you, and to whom. Fifteen minutes, I’ll be there in 15 minutes. ‘Tis folly.

The glares we get. The laser-like eyeballs burning into our flesh for the crime of saving a bar seat. “It’s not our fault!” we want to cry. But who would believe us? Who indeed.

And the old chestnut, a text saying they’ll be late after you’ve already embarked on the subway. Sentencing you to anything from 20 to 60 minutes of pure, useless waiting, how creative we’ve become at passing the time. We travel with books, fully charged phones, unmade calls to mother–just in case we find ourselves, and we will find ourselves, with great gaps of time to fill. We do that dance, we do it well. For we have no choice. We are on time.

I lament for thee, anyone who’s ever sat at a bar for an hour because 20 minutes was too soon to be angry and leave and 45 minutes meant they were almost there. Endless, simply endless time in a place you wouldn’t be unless someone else had asked you to be there. But they’re not there. You’re there. You’re waiting. It still stings.

Damn you, punctuality! How you bludgeon. Why are we thus cursed? Why can’t we be the flaneur who never leaves their current location until they are due at location next? Why must we be tormented by the guilt of never keeping someone waiting while the earth’s populace doesn’t give a damn about how long we lean against a building wall scrolling through Instagram!?!

We should not apologize for our natural propensity to be punctual. All the flighty apologies from those that don’t comprehend that travel from A to B takes time and cannot be accomplished by magical instant transport should not make us think that we’re in the wrong here. We are there. We are on time. We are righteous. They can eat shit.

And you! You late people! You plagues! Are we, the punctual ones, but rubbish? Is our time less valuable than yours? Does our time spend at different currency? I bought two extra glasses of wine while I waited for your dragging carcass, bring forth my compensation on Venmo!

We will not change. Nor should we. We are the ones in possession of a good quality, no matter how many times we’re told we’re in the wrong. It is but more late person snake oil. Don’t fall for it, don’t be beguiled as we’ve so often been beguiled by “around the corner!” and “parking!”

Stand your ground. Know you are in the right. And arrive. Arrive I say! It is the late ones who stand to improve, to rectify. Let them bear some burden at last. And while it might not be a swift change, it will be worth the effort to speak your truth, your disappointment, your scalding anger. Let the lagging, late, lackadaisical hoards bend to our needs at last, at long last, there must be an era for us, we punctual few. It is time.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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