Once as a freshman in college I was chatting with my mom over the phone. I was telling her how difficult it was for me to be on time—for church, for class, for activities, anything. I was slyly bragging (or so I thought), trying to get the point across how I was so busy and important I couldn’t possibly accommodate everyone with my immediate and punctual presence. Being late was quite trendy for my age group as well—no one significant ever arrived on time for dances, dates or dinners.
My mom promptly railed into me how being late and making people wait for you was a real sign of self-centeredness and showed a real lack of respect for teachers, friends, and everyone else inconvenienced by my tardiness. This rebuke stung like crazy and knowing I was in the wrong didn’t help one bit.
I soon became insanely fixated on always being on time. I didn’t like being accused of self-centeredness, especially by my mom, and so focused all my efforts into getting assignments done on time, being early for church and classes, etc. It didn’t help that I often had to rely on roommates (then vain missionary companions, then my perpetually sluggish husband…) to be ready on time for rides. And sometimes I had to fight traffic to achieve that ever elusive feeling of knowing I was where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be. But it was and is worth it. Being on time showed others I cared not just about how I came across, but that I cared about them and their time.
You’ve got to appease the god of punctuality! While the initial stung may have left years ago, I’ll never forget those annoyed and annoying words of wisdom from my mom. Always be punctual!
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