Rules for showing up

By | January 24, 2012

At my house we have a bit of a push-and-pull relationship with time. My wife pushes, and I pull.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think we need to leave a half-hour early to get a place 10 minutes from our house. I’m willing to leave 15 minutes early if I have to, but three times the required time is just too much.

My wife gets stressed if we leave on my schedule, but we’re rarely late. Well, we’re rarely what I consider late. She may differ in her definition. I get stressed if we get there too early. I don’t enjoy sitting around wasting my time some place other than my house (well, or maybe work – oh, wait, that’s the same thing).

So, just to get it documented, here are my rules on when we need to show up for things (thus dictating when we need to leave):

  • If something is scheduled to start at a hard-and-fast time, like a class or a doctor’s appointment, you need to be there at a bare minimum 3 minutes earlier than the start time. There is, however, no reason to be there 15 minutes early. Things like movies, plays, or other public functions are a special sub-class in which you need to get there early enough to find a good seat, and thus could extend the early arrival to a half-hour or more depending on estimated difficulty in getting said seat. (You also need to be there before the previews.) Being late is unacceptable, period.
  • If you’re catching a plane, 1.5-2.5 hours prior to take-off, depending on the airport.
  • If you’re catching a train, up to 30 minutes early, if you’re stressed, but 2-10 minutes is fine.
  • If you’re visiting someone you don’t know well, or it’s a business visit, up to 5 minutes early. Period. No earlier, and no later than the exact start time.
  • If you’re visiting a friend’s house locally – even if a certain time has been established – 5 minutes either way is acceptable. 10 minutes either way is too much.
  • If you’re visiting family locally, 10 minutes early or late is permissible, but you’re pushing it.
  • If you’re visiting a friend or family at a distance (i.e., an hour or more drive) your leeway extends to 10 minutes either direction. Leeway increases proportionate to how long you are intending to stay, to a maximum of 30 minutes late, but no more than 15 minutes early.
  • If you’re going somewhere to eat, leave now.

Two explanations about these rules:

  1. These are rules for me. If I’m coming to your place, these are the guidelines I’m shooting for. If you’re accompanying me somewhere, these are the guidelines I’m shooting for. If you’re coming to me? Well, honestly I’m probably looking for you within these ranges, but you can probably multiply the time frames by 3 and I won’t care. Much.
  2. I don’t always make it within these guidelines. If you’re someone I’ve come to visit and I’m really late (or even really early, unless you’re my brother), I’m usually pretty stressed about it, even if I don’t show it. But if I’m close to these time frames… no big deal.

My wife probably generally agrees with this list – I haven’t asked her, so maybe not – but she’s undoubtedly willing to leave 3 times earlier than travel time dictates and then drive around your block 80 times wasting time until we hit an acceptable arrival time. I know for a fact she once spent at least 3 hours in a train station – it may have been 5 – waiting for a train. There was no reason she had to be there that early, she just didn’t want to miss the train. Just this month I spent 20 minutes sitting in a parking lot and wandering aimlessly through a grocery store because we had to leave – ’cause maybe a terrorist will blow up the only bridge between here and there and we’ll have to go 40 minutes out of our way to get there. Just so you understand what I’m working with, and where this post came from.

One thought on “Rules for showing up

  1. Pam

    Hmmm … well, let’s see. Always delivering our kids to Sunday school after the singing has started — do you define that as “late”?

    How ’bout the time I got to the doctor’s office with a kid 15 minutes early and found that when *they* had rescheduled the appointment they hadn’t told me they scheduled it for the other office, 15 minutes away? You’d have missed that appointment and would have had to make another one. I had the time to make that one.

    Did you *see* my recent post about how different we are, you and I? Enough said.

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