I am a perpetually tardy person. This surprises a lot of people since I’m generally type A, have a photographic memory for dates and times, and walk fast. And I agree I should be on time. I always plan on leaving at the appropriate time. It’s just I suddenly realize, at 3:20 PM when I should be departing to go to my next destination, that oh, I need to drink a glass of water first; then grab a stick of gum; dang it, I forgot my keys; should I pack a protein bar in my bag? Suddenly it’s 3:26 PM and I’m six minutes late. Whoops.
Senior year of college, my roommate and I were in the same biology class. It met at 9:05 AM. We lived 15 minutes by foot from the classroom. I think only the first day of class did my roommate and I walk over together. After that, my roommate tried to leave at 8:35 AM everyday (the classroom opened at 8:50 AM), and no, I wasn’t ready, “but I’ll catch up with you.”
Fast-forward to 9:10 AM. I slipped in the back of the packed lecture hall. Thankfully, I was Facebook friends with the professor so I never got penalized for my tardiness.
This past weekend my lateness came to a head. I was coming up to DC for the night, and I told my friend weeks before that we could meet on Saturday afternoon “at like 2 or 3 PM.” By the time I left Richmond, I had moved this projection to 4 PM “because I’m leaving later than I expected and traffic looks to be building.”
Halfway to northern Virginia, I realized I would not make it to the metro stop from which I was going to metro into DC until 4:07 PM. And it was a 40-minute metro ride.
Me: “Do you want to meet up in Clarendon instead at like 5?”
I would’ve made it to the metro stop by 4:13 PM except, by this time, the friend whose apartment I was staying at was home, so I could park there. Jay, my hosting friend, let me into her parking garage. I then asked if she wanted to accompany me to Clarendon.
At 4:29 PM, we departed her apartment. The metro stop was four minutes away by foot.
Me: “I’m starving. I don’t know if I can make it until 5 when we’re meeting Carson for gelato. Is there any way we can grab food on the way?”
Jay: “There’s a kabob shop.”
Me: “Do you think I could get a kabob in five minutes?” I didn’t wait for the answer. “I need food, or else I’ll be eating my friend. And you. I didn’t eat lunch.”
I ordered a chicken sandwich. I specifically ordered a chicken sandwich because that should be a faster than a platter, right? I mean, I could eat a platter right now, but I’m in a hurry.
Carson, the friend I was meeting, texted that she “just left! Should be there by 5.”
I texted, “Waiting at the metro stop, so same here.”
I turned to Jay. “We’ll make it there by 5, right?”
It was 4:39 PM.
Jay: “It’s a 20-minute metro ride, and the metro only comes every 20 minutes.”
Me: “This sandwich better hurry.”
Ten minutes later, I am still waiting for my sandwich. Everyone else in the café has had their number called.
Me: “I should have looked at all these sitting people, all three of them, and seen they were waiting. I thought they already had their food. When’s the metro come? Can you check on an app? Is there an app for that?”
Jay: “It comes in eight minutes. And the next one in 30.”
Me: “So we have to make this one. Or what if we drive?”
Jay: “It might be faster, but it depends on traffic.”
Me: “Let’s see.” I Waze it. “21 minutes. Hmm. That puts us there at 5:11. If this sandwich finishes.”
Jay: “But then we have to find parking.”
Me: “I mean, we’re already going to be late. I’ll tell her we’ll be there at, like, 5:10. And then it will be 5:15, but then we’re only five minutes late.”
Jay: “It’s gonna take us 30 minutes.”
Me: “I can’t tell her that. That sounds absurd. It’s almost 5 now.”
Jay: “I mean, it’s best to be honest”
I texted Carson, “So the train isn’t coming for another 15, so we’re just going to drive. I’m really sorry! Should be there in 20.”
Carson: “No problem!”
Jay: “Maybe I should get the car while you wait for the sandwich?”
Me: “Yeah, do that. I think they’ve forgotten my order.”
Jay has been gone from the café for about 30 seconds when the cashier calls out, “Eight! Eight!” I’m seven. No one is responding. I walk up to counter.
Me: “Do you mean seven?”
Cashier: “Let me see your receipt. Yeah, the chicken sandwich. This is yours.”
I call Jay.
Jay: “Did you get your sandwich?”
Me: “Yes! I’ll meet you at parking garage entrance.”
And then I’m at the parking garage entrance with no sign of Jay. Well, might as well eat my sandwich. I finished half of it before Jay materialized in her SUV.
Me: “Do you have napkins?”
It’s 5:01 PM.
Me: “Should I text her traffic’s really bad?”
Meanwhile, Jay merged onto the interstate at 5.9 mph, thank you, Snapchat filters.
I texted Carson, “Sorry, I’m making my friend speed.”
Me: “I mean, we would’ve missed the first metro anyway. We couldn’t help being late. I probably shouldn’t have gotten food, since we’re meeting her for food, but my blood sugar was very low. I think this was the best course for all parties involved. I’ll text her we’re looking for parking.”
Jay: “Once we park, we still have to walk there.”
Me: “How far?!”
Jay: “It’s like half a mile.”
Me: “Okay, we’re going to run.”
Phew. We finally exit the interstate.
I text Carson, “We’re walking over now!”
Carson: “Great! I just walked in.”
Me: “She just got there.”
Jay: “We have, like, another 10 minutes.”
Stopped at a stoplight, I texted Carson, “Waiting for the crosswalk signal. Sorry!”
Jay: “Do you lie like this all the time?”
Me: “No! …I mean, it’s just a white lie. We are almost there.”
Jay: “I feel like you’re lying right now.”
Me: “Do you watch House of Cards? Sometimes you have to lie.”
Jay: “Have you killed someone, too?”
Me: “If I told you I had, would you believe me?”
Finally, we parked. Jay wasn’t kidding. We had to walk ten blocks to the gelato shop.
Me: “We need to jog. Should I text her we’re three blocks away? Or is it worth it at this point?”
Jay: “No, we’re going to be there in two minutes.”
Jay and I turned to see a college friend beaming at us. “Dani!” I say. “Ohmigawd.”
Dani: “How are you? I didn’t know you were up here!”
Me: “I know! I’m running a race tomorrow. This is my friend Jay, by the way. We met on Tinder.”
Dani, by the way, is standing on the sidewalk corner with a guy I’ve never met before. I suddenly wonder if Dani is on a Tinder date. Is she?
Me: “I’m joking. We actually didn’t meet on Tinder. We went to college together.”
Jay: “Yeah, I was about to say, we didn’t meet on Tinder.”
Me to Dani: “Do you know Carson George, by the way?”
Dani: “Yeah, I do.”
Me: “That’s awesome. We’re going to meet her right now actually. In fact, we’re 30 minutes late, or else I’d hang to chat some more.”
We waved goodbye and jaywalked to the next block. We reached the gelato shop at 5:34 PM. I embraced Carson and apologized for our tardiness. “I’m so sorry! Traffic was a bear.”
Carson: “Don’t worry about it. When you texted me you were driving, I hadn’t even gotten on the interstate.”
Me: “Me either.”