Monday, May 25, 2009



Today’s topic is something I know absolutely nothing about. Punctuality.

I’m never on time. No matter how hard I try, I’m late for everything.

Some of you might say I just don’t care enough about the people I’m supposed to meet. I like to think it’s that I care too much about the people I’m with to tear myself away.

Back when I was an advertising Creative Director, my boss suggested that my habitual lateness was causing logjams and offered to hire a Time Management consultant for me.

I interviewed three different candidates. I got off to a bad start with the first one. I was half an hour late to the meeting. Ultimately, the woman I hired taught me very little about time management, and a lot about planning for the future. In fact, she helped me plan how to get away from the agency that was paying her consulting fees.

Since then I’ve talked to several people (professionals and do-gooder amateurs alike) about my bad habit. They all agree that I don’t plan, and I always bite off more than I can chew.

If have to leave the house in five minutes, I’ll tell myself I have plenty of time to check my email. Then, by the time I check it, answer the one that absolutely can’t wait, find my keys, go back upstairs for my cell phone, grab a bottle of water for the road, and get the car going, it’s taken 17 minutes and my five minute window is shattered.

So lately, I’ve tried even harder. Five minutes to get out? I don’t check email. I grab my car keys and the phone rings. I check caller ID. This is a call that absolutely can’t wait. Are you picking up on the pattern?

A few weeks ago, I had an important appointment early in the morning. I set the clock, and gave myself plenty of time to get up, shower, feed the dog, grab some breakfast, and get on the road.

I swore to myself — no email, no phones, no distractions of any kind.

The clock rang; I got up, and went downstairs to feed Jett. And guess what? There was a dead mouse floating in her water bowl.

In the country a mouse in the house isn’t unusual. The exterminator leaves bait for them. They eat the bait, and then get so thirsty they have to go outside to look for water, where they die.

This little critter never made it outside. He found an oasis in Jett’s water bowl. But there was only so much he could drink, which is why he was floating there on the morning I swore I wouldn’t be late.

Emails can wait. Phone calls can wait. Rotting bloated rodent cadavers gotta go. Isn’t that what caused the bubonic plague?

I went back upstairs for some shoes and a HAZMAT suit. I came back down, gingerly picked up the bowl, carried it outside, careful not to splash wet mouse cooties all over the house, and dumped poor Mickey in the woods.

Then I washed the bowl. Not rinsed. Washed. With soap and hot water. Then I refilled it, and gave Jett fresh water.

I could swear the sink had traces of mouse hair, so I cleaned and disinfected it. Then I washed my own hands. Wet, lather, rinse, repeat. Then I rubbed them with Purell. And just to be safe, I Purelled the sink.

Finally I had to call my wife to tell her how my day was going.

I was 25 minutes late for my appointment.

The moral: The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.