Watch the Clock

Being on time is possibly one of the most overrated concepts. Mainly because the idea of what on time actually is changes with every person and activity. Growing up a dancer I was told that on time meant early. That is a motto I have grown up with and have learned to love. Being early takes away the stress of rushing to get someone right on time just to have the chance of being late. It also allows for a chance to check everything twice. If for some reason right when you are about to leave, your wallet is nowhere to be found or your keys are lost in the deep abyss that is your purse, it is then okay to be late because when early is on time then being late simply means being, well, on time. Granted, as a dancer, showing up early for class, pictures, or rehearsal ranges from being there fifteen minutes to two hours before starting time.

Anyone who has experienced public school understands another version of “on time.” Depending on the school you go or went to, the extreme of this scenario may differ. For some getting to school on time meant waking up five minutes before the first bell. Already this is getting tricky because of the whole bell thing. There is a bell for when the school opens, for when buses arrive, for breakfast, for when school starts, for five minutes before you are late, and for being late. I personally woke up at least an hour before the official school’s start time so that I could get ready and be early without having to hear the five-minute warning bell. So, in this case being early or late really depends on which bell you would follow. Without any attention being paid to this utterly confusing system teachers always insisted that being on time, not early, but on time was one of the most important things in life. They explained that in class being late was a disruption which would be understanding except for the fact that it took all my teachers five minutes to finally start teaching the class. We always had so much extra time in class that kids knew even if they were a few minutes late they weren’t going to miss or anything or there would be time at the end of class to review what they missed.

Without any attention being paid to this utterly confusing system teachers always insisted that being on time, not early, but on time was one of the most important things in life. They explained that in class being late was a disruption which would be understanding except for the fact that it took all my teachers five minutes to finally start teaching the class. We always had so much extra time in class that kids knew even if they were a few minutes late they weren’t going to miss or anything or there would be time at the end of class to review what they missed. They also insisted the being punctual would be crucial to real, adult life such as getting a job.

This brings us to work. Parents will say be on time, friends will say be on time, employers will say be on time, teachers will say be on time, it seems like everyone is willing to say be on time yet it is rarely enforced. This is in no way a complaint or to say that everyone is open about being on time but more food for thought. At previous establishments where I have been an employee, I have stayed true to my “early is on time” saying. It was all fine and dandy until one day I headed out to work a little later than usual. I was going to be maybe five minutes late and I was freaking out. “They are totally going to fire me,” I thought. I was so worried what the consequences would be, but when I showed up sweaty from practically running and worried as heck, I was greeted with the usual “hey, how’s it going?” I probably over-reacted but that’s who I am anyways. It was the days I was a couple of minutes late that I realized why nobody said anything. For one, they didn’t care because I worked hard at my job and always completed the tasks I was assigned to do. Second, it was because they were always later than I was. One day I was left waiting outside for half an hour. My point here is to say don’t let go of your principles. Even though I have experienced jobs where being on time is the least of their worries there are some that expect you to be extremely punctual. Keeping this in mind I still believe that “early is on time” and I will continue to do so.

All in all, everyone has a different idea of what on time is depending on the circumstances. For instance, due dates on assignments in college, yeah, those need to be on time.

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