– Maida Korte

“It ought to be plain how little you gain by getting excited and vexed.
You’ll always be late for the previous train, and always on time for the next.”
Piet Hein

Ever since a dog really did eat Johnnie’s homework, we have been looking for excuses for our imperfections and pardonable sins.    The more incredible the excuse, the more we tend toward a forgiving spirit.  If someone arrives to our home late for a dinner party with a creative, “On the way to your house my gout flared up and I needed to stop, but don’t worry I’ll be fine.”  We don’t care about the real reason for tardiness since we enjoy the fabrication more than the truth – which is that we are all slightly irresponsible. I do recall that a close friend of mine told me recently that I used to tell the time I would arrive in obscure minutes: “I’ll be to you in 37 minutes and arrive at 2:24.  I was never on time, which made my pronouncement all the more confident and compelling.  We are ever hopeful creatures and we want to be on time – we plan to be on time – but we just can’t seem to manage our days. 

Wanting to be honest creatures we generally offer up truth mixed with appropriate embellishments.  If our lateness is due to forgetting to gas up the car, adding that the pump was slow somehow makes our excuse more believable. Since punctuality has gained respect ever since King Louis the XVIII of France pronounced its worthiness, (I have wanted to get that fact into a conversation for decades – it is like knowing the population of the Philippines),  we have been looking for ways to excuse ourselves for our blatant tardiness.

The newest sacrificial lamb of our collective late conscience is our dependence on GPS.  Announcing, “My GPS says I will be there at 3:17,” when we were due at 3:00, results in a simple, “all righty…see you soon.”  It seems that GPS absolves us of all responsibility to schedule and travel times.  No weather report or traffic conditions, just global positioning system pronouncements and we are absolved from all tardiness sins.  When we can all begin the visiting circuit again when you arrive late, throw in a story about leaving the side-dish behind.  I miss the creativity.

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