Don’t be late. I won’t wait. I will go with­out you

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - BONDINGS - JOHN MASTER­SON

IHAVE a rep­u­ta­tion for good time­keep­ing. I am a bit self-sat­is­fied about it. I still con­sider pride one of the seven deadly sins and I have per­formed more than my share of the other six. But if I were to suc­cumb to pride, I am a lit­tle proud of be­ing such a good time­keeper.

There are lots of friends who are equally good, and pri­vately we all con­sider bad time­keep­ers to be rude and we do look down on them.

If I ever suf­fer a heart at­tack from stress, it will be be­cause I am go­ing to be late for an ap­point­ment. So I al­ways leave plenty of time.

I will be at the air­port a min­i­mum of three hours be­fore any flight which is a bit silly as with on­line check-in, get­ting from the front door to your gate takes about 10 min­utes. Still it is bet­ter than rush­ing, and I have never missed a flight. I leave time to get a punc­ture and have a crash on the M50. I did once at­tempt to check in a day early. I was try­ing to get away from some­one who was driv­ing me mad and had been count­ing the days, not very ac­cu­rately as it turned out.

Last week, I was giv­ing a lift from Kilkenny to two col­leagues for a meet­ing we had in Dublin. I had been clear. I will pick you up at the of­fice at 8.45am and we will go im­me­di­ately. I prob­a­bly said ‘im­me­di­ately’ more than once, and with em­pha­sis.

I left home as planned the morn­ing in ques­tion. I was low on petrol but I had oceans of time. Un­til I came upon one of those in­fer­nal tem­po­rary traf­fic lights and one way sys­tems that spring up unan­nounced and waste five min­utes. Still, I had al­lowed more than that.

I pulled into the fill­ing sta­tion and all the pumps were in use. I eased my­self in be­tween 1 and 2 as both had just gone in to pay. There was acres of free space but it never dawns on peo­ple to move up 30 yards and al­low the next per­son ac­cess to the pump.

Af­ter some leisurely shop­ping, the driver at pump 2 emerged. It was get­ting near 8.45 and my blood pres­sure was ris­ing. He then pro­ceeded to empty vast quan­ti­ties of rub­bish into the bin and then opened the back doors to get more. This was in broad day­light and I as­sume the cul­prit is on CCTV.

The woman at pump 1 emerged and started her en­gine. Then she re­alised she had for­got­ten to buy some­thing and turned off her en­gine and went back into the shop. I sat and fumed. An­other car pulled in be­hind me so I could not re­verse and go to a free pump. Some four min­utes later, she emerged with her pack of cig­a­rettes which only served to en­rage me fur­ther. She mouthed a “sorry” to me as she no doubt does ev­ery time she gets petrol and doesn’t give a damn about other peo­ple wait­ing. I mouthed some­thing that may have been ob­scene.

I was now late and close to apoplexy. The phone rang. “John. I am here and I don’t see your car any­where. Did you go ahead with­out me?”

I ex­plained that I was on my way, some­what shocked that it was as­sumed I would be so cal­lous. Then the sec­ond per­son phoned and we had al­most the same con­ver­sa­tion.

I am still proud of my time­keep­ing and a bit ashamed of my abil­ity to put the fear of God into peo­ple. Ex­cept for id­iots who block petrol pumps who should be hung, drawn and quar­tered.

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