I was always late. My mother would ask me to do something and I would answer, “In a minute.” She would exclaim, “I’ll be on my deathbed, drawing my last breath, they’ll call and your answer will be ‘In a minute.”
I have a friend who habitually boarded flights at the last minute. A few years ago, in response to a page he picked up a terminal phone. When he identified himself, he was asked, “Do you own a 1998 blue Mercedes Benz?” He responded he did and the man on phone inquired, “Do you have your car keys?” After searching his pockets, my friend replied “No. why?” The man responded, “I didn’t think so, since your car is still running in front of the terminal.” Late to catch his flight, he pulled up to the terminal and left the car running. He now allows plenty of time to catch a plane.
I had a boss who held weekly staff meetings at six-thirty in the morning. I would awaken an hour before the meeting and rush to be on time—only to sit and wait for a habitually late employer. It was obvious he did not consider our time to be of value. Thinking about how I was treated, I realized my habitual tardiness demonstrated a disregard of others and resolved to make an effort to be on time.
We have many ways keeping time: wrist and pocket watches, alarm clocks, clocks on our computers, automated calendars and clocks on our cell phones. We measure time: the length of a ball game, the time it takes to bake a cake and how long to go from A to B. We record time: the hour and minute the plane struck the World Trade Center, the time of birth and the time of death. We talk about time: when it snowed, the year our team won the national championship and the last time we were together. Perhaps we are obsessed with time because we don’t know how much we have.
Since time is limited and more cannot be obtained, it is a person’s most valuable possession. When shared, it is a gift to be treated with respect and received with gratitude.