If there’s anything I am extremely possessive about, it’s my time. Time, as they say, is precious, and fortunately, this is one thing that everyone in the world is given equally to begin with. However, there’s a caveat – had to be right? And the caveat is that when God gave us all precious time for ourselves to decide how we use it or waste it, he chose to also give us the ability to waste others’ time. This is rather horrible, especially since this seems to mean that folks who don’t respect their own time, more or less choose not to respect others time as well.
And I despise this kind. Hate them, can’t stand them, and want to slap them. But I can’t. And I am left seething on the inside and whining on the outside to whomsoever cares to listen, and pacifying myself with snide remarks I hope they catch; only they don’t, most of the time. My most favorite thing about the situation is the most of these folks are not even sorry. It’s like they think wasting others time is their birth right.
My derision towards those who do not attempt to be at a place at the stipulated time to the second started quite early on in life. I am born to a man who believes in keeping time to the nano-second, while building in all probable worst case scenarios while deciding upon the timelines. For example – if the train is at 4 PM from New Delhi Railway station, and Meerut is 60 kms away from Delhi and it should take around 3 hours to get there, he would ensure we make provisions for bad traffic, car-breakdown and backup, route diversions, and also a general buffer. This could and would mean we started atleast 7 hours before time at around 9 AM. It would also mean that we were usually at the station’s waiting room between 1 and 4. But we never, ever missed a train, or boarded hurriedly. I then chose to marry a guy who is as much of a stickler for time – my favorite example being reaching on time for a birthday lunch, which meant a whole 45 minutes before the birthday girl or the other friends, and then waiting at the reception. So basically, I have punctuality built into my lifestyle.
And I don’t mind all this one bit. In fact, I am obsessed with punctuality. I am so tuned to being on time, that there was no scope for changing to the Indian Standard time as they call it, ever. For me, 9 AM means 9 AM, not a minute before and not a minute after. I thoroughly follow the 7 minute rule and walk out of meetings and disconnect calls if the other party is not available within 7 minutes of the decided time. I have never, ever, missed my bus to school, or college, or work, never made the cab wait for me, never even missed the trailers at the movies (except my first movie after Zo was born), always been the first at birthday parties Zo has to attend (embarrassingly). I am pathetically on time all the time, and I always judge folks who are not.
One might argue that there are genuine reasons that can delay someone, like traffic. And honestly, if it is an odd jam that couldn’t be anticipated, I am totally forgiving. But when folks underestimate travel time on an always jam packed road, it is not more than an excuse. So you know you are going through the centre of the city, during the morning rush, and you know it takes you 45 minutes at noon. How many brain cells do you need to calculate that it will by default take atleast double the time? So how is it that you don’t start atleast 2 hours in advance especially since you know there are other idiots believing you when you say that you are going to be on time, and waiting at the destination right on time – the other idiot invariably being me?
Apparently, these are high expectations. And are laughed away with an ‘Oh Come on, you know what 9 AM means in India!’ or sometimes ‘You should be used to the Nawabi time standards!’. No I’m not. And no I don’t want to either. Fortunately, most of my close friends know this now and ensure that the timings are conveyed to me with a buffer and a disclaimer that 5PM means 5:30PM, and I am grateful to them, because there are very few things that I hate more than waiting.
For those who still don’t get it, there was a time when I would let it pass, but now I make it apparent. I become the pain in the ass who would keep taking digs at the accused till they apologize or are sufficiently embarrassed. I ensure that the next time they fix a time, I ask in the presence of all and sundry if they actually mean the time they say or if we should be adding an hour to it by default. I pass remarks rather loudly at folks who walk into a movie, 20 minutes after it’s started and then stomp over our feet like we are the ones at fault for blocking their way. And in worst case scenarios, I stop making plans with folks of this category for good.
And while that doesn’t solve anything, it makes me feel much, much better.