If you don’t have that friend, then you are that friend. You know the one, his or her name appeared after the @ symbol when this “Optimistic People All Have One Thing In Common: They’re Always Late” article made the rounds. It’s been about a year since then, so let’s review the highlights:
This whole “running late = optimism” equation is a decidedly convenient excuse for those who tend to chase the hands of a clock all hickory dickory dock. I know this, because I’ve used it. The reality is, characteristically late individuals may find personal satisfaction in stuffing extras into their days, but as a consequence, we leave compatriots about as satisfied as if that stuffing were Little Caesars DEEP!DEEP! Dish Pizza, with over three-and-a-half feet of cheese in the crust. Deceived. Bloated. And thoroughly ashamed 😰.
Rather than take a negative trait and spin it into a positive, I’d like to propose a re-examination of a commonly held attribute and consider, for a moment, that perhaps it comes with its own inherent flaws. I’m talking about the notion that being early is somehow virtuous, noble, and pure.
“The early bird catcheth the worm,” goes the proverb, but in a Monty Python moment, the tablet pontificating “Honestly, who wants a worm anyway?!” fell and shattered, I’m pretty sure.
There is nothing divine about being early. If we’re all going to the same party, we’re all arriving at some point right? Why be elitist about it? Furthermore, if I’m hosting said party, well, you, early bird, just cut into my prep time; now I’m stuck looking like an homage to A Clockwork Orange all night.
Of course, punctuality has its perks. You probably didn’t have to weave in and out of traffic, sweating bullets and raining profanities, to arrive at your destination (physical and mental health benefits), which may have afforded you the opportunity to daydream (a form of optimism). And, when you sat in your car, lobby, or vaulted entranceway of wherever it is you need to be, I’m guessing you found something to keep you occupied.
So if being late is narcissistic because it’s self-important, and being early is narcissistic because it’s self-congratulating, where does that leave us?
Can we all agree that promptness is what we seek? And while the Early Adopter and Fashionably Late take different paths to get there, neither is unconditionally better than the other? Reverse-engineering rationales for either is an exercise in narcissism.
And really, when it comes down to it,
I mean, isn’t it a miraculous cosmic coincidence that we’re even co-existing, together, now, in the present? The current measurement of the age of the universe is 13.799±0.021 billion years within the Lambda-CDM concordance model. What’s fifteen minutes between friends?