An ode to punctuality — or lack of it: Readers share stories of relatives famed for their tardiness.
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.”
“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 posthelpinghand.com.
Alarm clocks are piled up during a 2009 climate change conference in Barcelona. For some, even this many clocks would be no help.