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From the Publisher’s Desk – I am a fashionably late failure

By Keith Whitson

We all have those friends who arrive late for everything. One couple, in a group I hung out with a few years back, would usually be one hour late to show up. So, we started intentionally telling them a gathering time an hour earlier and they more or less arrived on time.

We all know the ones who always come into church after the service has started. I used to think that when the time changed in the fall, they might wake up earlier out of habit and be there on time. But, that’s not the case.

I have always prided myself on being timely. Every set appointment, I plan the time to get there and I leave accordingly. After all, I would rather be too early rather than too late.

If I have a meeting or appointment in Johnson City that falls near lunch time, I try and get near my destination first and then eat in the same vicinity. That way if there is any type of traffic hold up, I am not in a panic.

My daily routine is to pick my clothing the night before, turn my bed down hours before bedtime, close the bedroom drapes, put out my medication for the next day and decide what I am having for breakfast. After that, I can sit down and rest.

However, even after all of the planning I do, there have been a few times I have been late.

I was attending a funeral being held at a church in North Carolina. The road was very curvy and I hadn’t allowed enough time. I didn’t miss the funeral, but when I arrived the pews were full. I was directed to sit in the choir section, which left me awkwardly looking back at the audience and the family during the service.

Another time, I had a doctor’s appointment. I wrote myself a note in large letters and placed it on my desk at work so I wouldn’t forget. Somehow the note got covered up during the day. When I shuffled through some papers and saw it, I was running late. When I arrived, I was 15 minutes late and the window of opportunity had passed. I had to reschedule.

Isn’t it strange how it is fine for us to sit for 30 minutes to an hour beyond our scheduled appointment time, waiting on the doctor, but there is no flexibility the other way around?

I was meeting a friend for lunch one day at noon. He had an hour available before having to be somewhere. I was going to pick him up. He texted to ask that I let him know when I got close. A few minutes later he asked if I was almost there. I hadn’t even left yet. He then told me he wouldn’t have time for lunch. Turns out it was the first Monday after the spring time change and I hadn’t reset the clock in my office. It was one hour earlier in my mind.

Saturday was the wedding of Anna Lewis and Zach Foropoulos. I have known Anna since she was a baby. She is such a talented and sweet young lady. I received her invitation, responded and put it on my calendar. Somehow I had 6 p.m. in my mind as the wedding time. Looking at my calendar now I don’t even see where I put a time.

All day Saturday was planned accordingly with the wedding in mind. Clothes were picked and I went through the proper time frame of showering, dressing and arriving. Mom and I were sitting outside of First Baptist Church in Erwin at 5:30 p.m.

The crowd seemed off. Cars were in the parking lot but nothing overwhelming to be so close to the wedding time. We waited a few minutes. If the crowd was that slow arriving, we didn’t want to enter too soon.

Finally, we walked to the door, where we were asked “Were you here for the wedding?”. Were? As in it’s over? “Isn’t it at 6 p.m.?,” I asked. “No, it started at 4 p.m.,” was the reply.

“The bride and groom are still in there making photos. Go on in and speak to them.”

I had been sitting around the house all afternoon, nothing much to do and waiting for the time to get ready and arrive. Yet, I had missed it all.

“It was beautiful,” our friends said. “I’m sure they got it on video.”

Photographs were still being taken but the bride’s parents saw us and came on back to speak. They insisted we go to the reception at The Bramble. We did where we were questioned by many who didn’t remember seeing us at the wedding. “We were sitting toward the back of the church,” I said to some before confessing the truth about what actually happened.

Some people like to arrive late to make a grand entrance. Some pick a time they call “fashionably late.” One definition of the term is “the refined art of being just late enough (5 minutes or so) to give the impression that you are a busy, popular person that was held up with other business.”

Missing the entire wedding doesn’t qualify. I asked if they would consider doing it over since everyone was already dressed up.

Some people have joked about being late for their own funeral. Actress Elizabeth Taylor had left instructions for her casket to be brought in 15 minutes late for her funeral. Everyone was gathered around waiting when they finally brought the body in.

Hopefully my scheduling will get better. If you know of anything I am supposed to be at and I haven’t arrived, please check on me. More than likely my clothes are already picked. I may be pacing the floor at home, confused and waiting for the time to start getting ready.