Tag Archives: running late

Just a little late

Man, sometimes I really don’t want to go to work. I’m in my comfort zone right here. I’m writing. I’m getting shit done. But I have to leave this house in about an hour and a half. Which means I have to get up off the computer in like an hour. But I’m always pushing my luck. It’s a really bad habit. I’m constantly aware of what time it is, of how many minutes I have left to myself, but despite that knowledge, I’ll always just kind of willfully ignore it.

So say I commit to getting off the computer at three forty five with the end goal of heading out the door at four fifteen. I don’t have to be at work until four forty five, which, considering that I have to get there and change into my waiter’s uniform, that really means four forty. I ride my bike to work every day so I know exactly how long this whole thing is going to take.

But that’s like four steps, four different time deadlines, plus the present moment, which is all that really exists anyway, but I’m not about to get all philosophical. I have right now, then three forty five, then four fifteen, four forty, and finally, four forty five, the moment when I give up any semblance of freedom and commit to following somebody else’s rules for the next eight hours or so.

I never get going exactly when I’m supposed to. I’ll always push it. Five minutes. Ten minutes. And each step along the way, each deadline invites multiple opportunities to keep pushing it even more. So I might not get up from the computer until three fifty, or three fifty five. That’s OK, I’ll just haul ass and rush through the getting ready for work phase. Maybe I’ll make up the lost time. Maybe I’ll just run around the house extra fast and I won’t be running late anymore.

But all of that hustling, I’m frazzled, I’m frantic. I don’t want to hurry out the door just yet. I’ve got to calm down some. So I sit in front of the computer for a second, or pick up a magazine. And then my brain is calming down, and I’m getting engaged in something else, an article, a web site, whatever. And I’m still constantly looking at the clock. It’s four ten. It’s four fifteen. And now, OK, it’s four twenty. I’ve got to get going, I’m late.

And now I’m riding my bike, I’m really pushing it. This part of the commute is the most difficult to make up lost time, because while I’m always feeling up to the bike ride, sometimes I’m just not capable of really giving it my all for the entire duration. Maybe it’s really windy. Maybe it’s raining, or I’m tired, or I’m hitting a bunch of red lights.

But I could still get there on time. Maybe be exactly on time. Maybe only five minutes late. Everybody else will be lining up for the pre-shift staff meeting, and I’ll show up with them. I won’t be dressed, and so I’ll say that I’m technically not late, but my boss might disagree, seeing as how I’m not ready to go, that I am technically late. But I always punch in right away, as soon as I’m in the door, so that way if, months from now, the higher ups all decide to come at me with a list of recorded tardiness, I’ll be able to be like, what are you guys talking about? I’ve always been on time.

And say I make it all dressed, ready to go at four forty five. There’s still time to fuck around. I’ll think, well, I’m pretty good on time here, let’s get a cup of coffee. And then I’ll get a drink. And a snack. It doesn’t stop.

I think I’ve said all I can say here. But it’s just that, I have to deal with this every day. I’m always looking for two, three extra minutes, time that isn’t there that I insist on having anyway. I just need to stop working, that’s the problem. Anybody want to start donating to the Rob Doesn’t Have to Work Fund? It’s going to cost you, I’m not going to lie. I don’t have expensive tastes, but I eat a lot, all the time, and I drink a lot of coffee. So yeah, that’s going to add up. Bills, utilities. But just, everybody give me a dollar, please, and then get your friends to give me a dollar too. Come on.

Running really late for work

Sometimes I feel like I’m always running late, regardless of when I have to be up, or how much time I have at my disposal to be ready. For example, the other day my boss asked me to work a double shift. “No way,” I told him, “I hate working.” OK, I didn’t say that exactly, but I still said no. Not taking no for an answer, he countered “OK fine,” he told me, “How about you can come in at noon?” And I was like, all right, fine, that sounds doable.

And I started planning out how the day would go. I’d wake up at eight-thirty, get like three blog posts done, take my dog Steve for a long walk, make a nice breakfast, maybe even get some reading done. Let’s do it!

The next thing I know my cell phone alarm clock is blaring at the periphery of my consciousness. I’m trying to get out of bed but my body is completely unresponsive. My cell phone alarm is so loud, so grating. I don’t know if everybody is familiar with the iPhone alarms, but I always use the one that sounds like the red alert from Star Trek. It’s intense. But it’s the only one that even stands a remote shot at waking me from a deep sleep.

What happened? Eleven o’clock already? Jesus. I usually wake up a lot earlier. I barely had time to get up, shower, shave, and then take the dog for a walk before I grabbed my bike and pedaled to work at a pace I usually reserve for outrunning taxis I’ve accidentally bumped into in traffic. OK, that’s not really true. I don’t outrun taxis. I just got a little carried away with the length and dramatics of that sentence. Although I did love Premium Rush.

But still, I was right on the verge of being late for a shift that I was already told to come in late for. I really was biking to work a lot faster than I usually do. For the first time in the better part of a year, I had left the house without so much as putting a morsel of food in my mouth. More importantly was coffee, or the lack thereof. Brewing and waiting and sipping, it was all completely out of the question.

I made it on the floor of the restaurant literally at the very minute. And I’m not one of those guys to throw around the word literally. Like I actually punched in and it said 12:00. I made it to work and the floor manager sees me and goes, “Finally! Rob’s here. Where have you been?” That deal that the general manager made with me? That whole thing about working a double and then telling me to come in at noon? Did we seal the deal some kind of a secret handshake? Because he didn’t tell anybody else. So I had to explain myself to the other managers, telling them I actually wasn’t late, but even when I hunted down the GM, “Right?” I asked him, “Remember you said I could come in at noon?” “Right …” he had that look on his face, like I might be making it all up, like he couldn’t really pinpoint the agreement I was talking about.

The day is over. I made it through. I just can’t get over the fact that, with two extra hours added to my day, I wound up being later than ever, later than I am on a regular day when I have to be at work at my regular time. I missed breakfast, I missed coffee, and I didn’t get to write anything. My whole day at work was thrown off balance. I was having what I assumed to be a lack of caffeine induced headache, even though normally I don’t believe in those. And I was starving. I was starving and serving people delicious, delicious lunch. It was torture.

When did I become so dependent on coffee? I never drank coffee in college. I don’t even remember when it became this habit. I honestly don’t know how I got to the point where I need three cups of coffee just to feel like myself in the morning. That’s kind of crazy, right? But tons of adults drink coffee. Maybe I’m more of an adult than I’m letting myself admit. You know, aside from the whole almost being late to work at noon thing.

I’m kind of pressed for time here

Every once in a while I’ll be really out of ideas for stuff to write about. Like right now. But at the same time, I know that I have to write something, otherwise I won’t be able to put something up everyday. People always say “quality over quantity,” but I disagree, I think quantity is clearly superior to quality. How else can our most popular TV shows make it all the way to seasons nine and ten without eventually just forgetting about quality and focusing strictly on the quantity?

But right now, unfortunately, I don’t think I have the luxury of neither quantity nor quality. I’m working a morning shift and for some reason I can never get out of bed early enough to get my writing done during the day. Today was supposed to be different. And it was, but only marginally different, because I only got up slightly earlier and gained like fifteen minutes of time. What am I supposed to do with fifteen minutes? Usually these things take me much longer to write. I’m not at all suggesting that I put a ton of thought into them, but generally I like to at least read the sentences back to myself to make sure everything’s legible.

But not today. I only have fifteen, well I guess now it’s more like ten minutes, to write about something. But I can’t think of anything. It doesn’t really matter, because I’m already three paragraphs deep and I think I’ve sufficiently wasted enough of everyone’s time already. The only thing I have here is me trying to beat the clock, to get a full blog post on the page before I really have to get out the door.

Getting out the door in the morning is the worst. I just switched jobs like two months ago. It’s the same gig, I’m still waiting tables at a restaurant, but whereas at my old job I could show up to work basically any time right down to the second before we opened, here I have to be responsible and show up forty-five minutes before service starts, making a good impression, looking people in the eye and saying stuff like, “You got it boss,” when the manager points to a stack of plates and makes me move it across the restaurant.

And so my morning routine just feels a lot more forced. Like I have to really be out the door at the same minute, which is probably the hardest part of the day, that conscious decision where you say to yourself, OK, my time is over, I’m now willingly giving myself up, walking out the door, to work for somebody else, at your service, you got it boss, how about another Diet Coke sir?

It’s not that bad. I read that back, OK, I didn’t read it back, but only because I don’t have any time, like I said, but I’m imagining reading it back, and it may or may not have sounded a little bitter. I’m not bitter. I don’t mind working in a restaurant. I like moving around. I like grabbing handfuls of food when I think that nobody’s looking and shoving them into my mouth. I’m sure the bosses have caught me, because it started out as just a piece of food here or there, but nobody ever said anything to me, and so I just upped the frequency, to the point where there are hardly any spaces in between bites. My whole shift is just one giant snack.

And then the chefs put out a staff meal before every shift. And I used to approach it with caution. Being the new guy, I didn’t want to just dive in, out of my way, here’s my elbow, I’m getting food. But that only lasted like a week, because I was being so timid with my regular snacking, I’d be famished by the time staff meal dropped at four in the afternoon. Can you imagine, like six hours without a bite to eat? If you’re reading this from a developing country, I’m sorry, that must have sounded completely insensitive. But if you’re reading this from America, am I right or what? Six hours without food? Please.

So now it’s like I’m constantly in and out of the kitchen, I always go in pretending that I’m looking for a stack of plates to move, but what I’m really doing is checking out the chef’s progress with the staff meal. As soon as it hits the window, I want to be the first person to throw an elbow to that other person who thinks he or she is going to be first. The first time I went for it, some other employee was all like, “Hey Rob, you’re supposed to let the night crew eat first.” And so I put down my utensils and waited for the night crew to eat. And then there was nothing left. You think I’m ever going to make that mistake again? Listen, there’s one thing I want in life. Snacks. That’s it.

Well, are you happy with what you just read? I did it. I wrote the whole thing in about twenty minutes. I’m not exactly proud of what I’ve produced, well, scratch that, I am proud, you know why? Quantity. Quantitatively speaking, it’s all there. And really, centuries from now, English will have evolved as a language to the point where anything written today is all meaningless gibberish. You ever try to read Shakespeare? No way that’s English. And so I would argue that quality is all relative. Or something like that. I really have to get to work.