by Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson
Sometimes we continue to love our friends not for what they are, but in spite of what they are. I have a dear friend, one who I’ve known for a dozen years or more, one who has always been there for me, one who is just a good person in general. She is kind, funny and unfailingly generous, and I am blessed to have her in my life and want to keep her as a friend for as long as I live. Best of all, our husbands even like each other!
She has absoutely no concept of time. None. She has several beautiful watches, but I’m not quite sure she knows how to use any of them. She has never made any appointment on time. Any. Her late mother once confided in me that she was even born ten days late. After the first year or two - after I realized her tardyness was totally incurable - I stopped trying to change her, as she refused to accept that she had any kind of problem, saying that time didn’t matter that much. Well, maybe not to her, but I live on such a tight schedule that it was very important to me. I didn’t want to lose her friendship, and we had several arguments about the problem. So… I just lied. If we were to meet at lunch at 12 noon, I told her that we would meet at 11:30, and thus she nearly always manages to show up no later than 12:10 or 12:15. It’s a system that works well for both of us,... as long as she doesn’t know I’ve jiggered the time.
This is just about the only point on which we disagree; she feels that time is an artificial construct to which one should not be enslaved. I feel that to ignore time - especially when it wastes another’s time - is to show disrespect for the other person, in effect saying that their time is unimportant. Of course, I was trained by my father, who was a martinet about time and manners.
Most of my life my parents owed a well-respected advertising agency. I started working for them when I was nine. Deadlines are an important part of any media-based business (actually of any business) and I was raised that to miss a deadline was a sin, if not just about the worst sin one could commit. That training served me well in my subsequent careers in journalism and writing novels, and drove me crazy the decade I worked with actors. (It is amazing that some of the flakier ones of them survived!) I would sooner commit a felony than miss a deadline.
Of course, as I live in a very large city where the bad traffic is legendary, sometimes even if you build in time for travel something happens and you’re stuck for X amount of time. That’s part of life in the big city and you accept it. It just doesn’t happen every time you meet someone for lunch, though! (And that’s where cell phones are a blessing.)
If my friend were this consistently tardy just with me, I wouldn’t call her a friend, no matter how sweet or funny she was. She is this way with everyone and everything. Her husband says she was even late for their wedding, and quite honestly I don’t know if he’s kidding or not!
So, being a believer that you play with what you’re dealt, I go on lying about our meeting times and, since I bought a tablet that fits cozily in my purse, have managed to get a good deal of writing done while waiting. So much so, in fact, that I might start considering telling her the actual lunch times!
(You might have noticed that I'm blogging on a different day. A re-scheduling of our Classic and Cozy blog roster has moved me from first Wednesday to first Thursday. So - look for me here every month at this same time.)