Sunday 9 December 2018

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

File photo
File photo

John Masterson

I have 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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