Maybe it's an East Coast thing. I moved to New York City when I was 18 and I was never late to plans the entire six years I lived there because people don't fuck around in New York: we all have strict schedules to adhere to. Lateness in my circle was like wearing trucker hats or playing "Mmmmbop" on the jukebox--strongly discouraged.
Plans with my friends came in shifts: there's happy hour plans, dinner plans, and late-night drink plans. That's three tiers or plans, people! But that's how we rolled, filling people's names into those same slots and scrambling around town with our jam-packed friend hangs. There was no room for tardiness.
|I would totally win a punctuality award pin|
That lifestyle trained me well. Through our collective emphasis on punctuality, I learned to respect other people's time. I also learned that my word was bond. No "on my way" texts. No "I'm running a little late!" texts. If I said I was going to be somewhere at a certain time, I made it my beeswax to get my tush there because I knew that if I were late for dinner with a buddy, it'd have a domino-effect. We'd either have to cut our dinner short or risk mucking up both our plans for the rest of the evening. That's a lot of pressure.
It was stressful trying not to be late when you're dealing with unknown variables like spotty public transportation and maybe running into old friends on the street who want to stop and chat for a hot minute. And once I did make it to happy hour, I'd be careful to time our drinks to make sure I'd have enough travel time to get to the next phase of the night. That's a lot of stress for just trying to grab a marg before jammin' on some Thai food four blocks away.
Now that I live in Philly, I don't schedule a million plans into one evening. I have no idea why I used to do that. I'm sure it was a combination of my inability to say no to anyone coupled with my need to not miss out on anything. I still have trouble saying no to people but I'm not as pre-occupied with the idea of missing out. But the lizard part of my brain is still hard-wired to show up to plans on time. That's a habit that I can't seem to shake.
So when I make plans to meet my boo at 8 PM, every molecule of my body wants to be at his house by 7:59 PM. My eyes dart from my watch to the street back to my watch. And when I text him that "I'm on my way!"--even though I feel like major league fuckup for even having to type that--and he writes back "take your time", it feels like a gift from above.
Those three little words are complete stress-busters. After reading them, my shoulders relax and my powerwalk dials down to more of a leisurely pace. He gives me permission to not rush and, to paraphrase the terrible Cameron Diaz movie which I've never seen, it's the sweetest thing.
All my years of meeting people at places, no one's ever said that to me before. I love it! It's now my favorite phrase. I'm taking a page from his book. Take your time, America. No rush. I'll be here when you get here, playing Candy Crush on my phone until I see your beautiful face.