An ode to punc­tu­al­ity — or lack of it: Read­ers share sto­ries of rel­a­tives famed for their tar­di­ness.

The Washington Post - - METRO - john.kelly@wash­ Twit­ter: @johnkelly For pre­vi­ous col­umns, visit wash­ing­ John Kelly’s Wash­ing­ton

The early bird gets the worm. That’s just one apho­rism on the sub­ject of punc­tu­al­ity.

Here’s an­other, shared by Vic­tor Tupitza of Burke, Va.: “One wise soul ob­served that the per­son who is al­ways on time wastes more time be­cause he is thereby com­pelled to wait for oth­ers.”

Well, he is if those oth­ers in­clude me. Well, the old me. Af­ter my confession last week that I am oc­ca­sion­ally tardy, many read­ers crit­i­cized me for be­ing in­con­sid­er­ate.

I hereby vow to turn over a new leaf. And I take com­fort in the fact that at least I’m not like Bar­bara Ja­co­bik’s mother-in­law, who of­ten ar­rived not min­utes late but hours.

“On the evening of the re­hearsal for my wed­ding, I ended up ‘mar­ry­ing’ the priest be­cause my fi­ance, who was driv­ing his mother, couldn’t get her to leave for [the] 50-minute drive,” wrote Bar­bara, of Clifton, Va. On the wed­ding day it­self, Bar­bara and the bridal party waited be­hind the church for the groom and his mother.

“They squealed into the park­ing lot at the ex­act time of the wed­ding,” she wrote. “For­tu­nately, her tar­di­ness gene was not passed down to my husband, or it would have been a short mar­riage!”

What is it with moth­ers-in­law? Nancy Ka­vanaugh Apted’s was English and “won­der­ful” but, alas, “punc­tu­al­ity chal­lenged even in the best of times.”

She was 20 min­utes late for Nancy’s wed­ding. Wrote Nancy, of El­li­cott City, Md., “My brides­maid, her daugh­ter, just lit up a cig­a­rette while I threw up in the vestibule.”

Carol We­ber of Hunt­ing­town, Md., con­fessed that she lacks the on-time gene. In fact, she was raised to be­lieve she shouldn’t be punc­tual: “When a young man came to pick me up on a date, you were never sup­posed to be on time,” she wrote. “By be­ing late, it gave your par­ents 10 or 15 min­utes to ‘size him up.’ ”

Carol said the only time she was ever on time was at her nup­tials, af­ter be­ing warned by her fu­ture husband that if she was late, the wed­ding was off.

And so, Carol was early — “so early that we drove around in the limou­sine wait­ing for all the peo­ple to ar­rive at the church. And some of the peo­ple who saw me in the limou­sine driv­ing past the church ac­tu­ally thought I had changed my mind.”

Bob­bie Liegus of Alexan­dria, Va., once had a friend who was no­to­ri­ously late for ev­ery­thing. “One day, a group of us in­vited her to join us for lunch at a res­tau­rant at 12:30,” Bob­bie wrote. “To our sur­prise, she showed up on time. We re­marked that she was there at 12:30, ac­tu­ally on time. She said, ‘Oh, I thought you said 12.’ ”

Now that’s a woman with the courage of her con­vic­tions.

Ginny Geil­ing of Lau­rel, Md., grew up in a fam­ily of five chil­dren, four of whom were punc­tual. “We all went to 9 a.m. mass on Sun­days,” Ginny wrote. “Ev­ery Sun­day, my par­ents and four of the kids were in the car wait­ing for Su­san, my fa­ther fum­ing.”

Ginny said that years later, she was rem­i­nisc­ing with Su­san about this weekly oc­cur­rence. “She hotly de­nied that this had ever hap­pened,” Ginny wrote. “In a way, she was right be­cause she wasn’t in the car with us so never knew what the rest of us ex­pe­ri­enced.”

What is it with church? The District’s Michael Shue noted that it be­gins at the ex­act same time ev­ery week.

“It never changes!” he wrote. “But it al­ways seems to be a gi­ant sur­prise to my fam­ily ev­ery Sun­day morn­ing at 8:15 when I re­mind them that we are leav­ing in 30 min­utes.

“Ev­ery Sun­day I end up driv­ing like a bat-out-of-hell (irony in­tended) to make it to church on time,” he con­tin­ued. “My wife once asked me what I wanted for my birth­day. I told her ‘ To leave on Sun­day at 8:45.’ ”

Michael said he got socks in­stead.

Anne T. Hen­der­son of the District rec­og­nized her fa­ther’s Ir­ish fam­ily in my col­umn. Her pa­ter­nal grand­mother, Beatrice, was famed for her tar­di­ness.

Beatrice died at age 84 — at least, her fam­ily thinks she was 84. Wrote Anne, “If in­quired about her age, she would sim­ply say, ‘Well, I am three years younger than Marge, and no one knows how old Marge is.’ ”

At Beatrice’s funeral, Anne’s fa­ther and un­cle held up the ar­rival of her cas­ket at the church by five min­utes. Why? “Be­cause Beatrice had never been on time in her life, and she is not go­ing to start now.”

Help­ing Hand

“One wise soul ob­served that the per­son who is al­ways on time wastes more time be­cause he is thereby com­pelled to wait for oth­ers.” Vic­tor Tupitza of Burke, Va.

You have plenty of time to do­nate to the three great char­i­ties in The Wash­ing­ton Post Help­ing Hand cam­paign: Bright Be­gin­nings, N Street Vil­lage and So Oth­ers Might Eat. Our cam­paign to raise $200,000 ends Jan. 5. But why not do it now?

To give on­line, visit pos­thelp­ing­


Alarm clocks are piled up dur­ing a 2009 cli­mate change con­fer­ence in Barcelona. For some, even this many clocks would be no help.

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