I always used to be late for everything. I had the best intentions, sometimes even leaving myself hours to get ready. But somehow, without fail, the deadline I had set for myself to be out the door would always come and go, and I would still be standing in front of the mirror trying to get my hair to do something resembling what I wanted it to do.
Then, I dated a man who insisted I show up on time, even threatening to stop dating me if I couldn’t be punctual (I’ll let you decide whether that ultimatum is understandable or unwarranted). I didn’t want to have to tell people this guy broke up with me for such a silly reason, so I started leaving myself even more time to get ready. And it worked. I began to leave my apartment on time.
But guess what. I would still occasionally arrive late! The problem was that (as anyone who knows anything about NYC’s public transit system can attest to) the subway is unreliable. So much so that if you leave on time, at the exact same time, to the same destination 3 days in a row, one day you may be early, one day you may be late, and one day you may be ridiculously late. There are just so many factors out of your control. You may argue that there are ways to foresee certain delays such as construction by looking at the MTA website before leaving. But surely you wouldn’t expect people to leave their homes 3 hours before a meeting time with the anticipation that there might possibly be a stalled train due to a medical emergency. You wouldn’t, right? (If you would, please don’t ever invite me to meet up with you.)
Absurdly long waits in subway tunnels you can’t ever predict aside, in New York, in order to compensate for smaller unforeseen delays, leaving on time really means leaving early. And that’s something I just haven’t been able to accomplish. I’ve arrived early plenty of times since that ultimatum, but it’s only been a result of there being no significant track work or random stunts the MTA decides to pull simply to mess with my relationships. Leaving early was still out of reach.
What a great accomplishment it was for me, then, that yesterday I left my apartment 3 full minutes before the deadline I had given myself. As a result, I arrived to meet my friend a half hour before the movie started, which was 18 minutes before she arrived, and sufficient time for me to wander around the 99 cent store in Chelsea that, as it turns out, sells almost nothing for a dollar (extremely disappointing, especially since there are still some establishments in Manhattan that roughly abide by the store’s namesake, and also because I had my eye on this confetti shooter thing that I’m sure I would have bought had it not been $2.49. I can imagine so many circumstances where having a confetti shooter on hand would improve the situation…alas).
Will I leave early again in the future? Who can tell? But if there’s a chance at scoring a confetti shooter for the reasonable price of $1, you can bet I’ll try. New York’s unreliability is what makes it so frustrating, but it’s also what makes it so exciting.