The Late Bird Gets the…

I’m almost entirely incabable of being on time.  This is a dramatic departure (I think) from my historical record.  In fact I had a somewhat humerous “rules of medical school” list that I had started and #2 was ‘always be on-time’.  Number 1 of course was ‘never answer the phone- you won’t know what they want, who they want,  or how to help them’.  So if I was generally an on time person then this problem arose somewhat more recently.  It may have started after meeting my wife (though this blog post will not be an effort to pin this on her)…since I was late for our first date.  Though that was during medical school, so now I’m not sure. 

The first and probably main reason I have grown to be a constantly slightly behind schedule person is entirely selfishness.  I admit that it’s probably the biggest part of the problem but it’s the least interesting so I’ll spend somewhat less time on that.  Where this particular personality flaw stems from I’ll explore more in a moment. So let’s talk about something more interesting then me being selfish…

The second reason I’m chronically late is the “just one more thing” phenomenon.  Both my wife and I have busted each other on this, originally related to the online game we were playing. We would tell each other “just one more thing” so you’d check your ingame mail, then the auction house, then one more thing….and…and… and another hour would pass.  My wife claims she busts me on this all the time, but she’s guilty of it too. This isn’t just in on line gaming this happens.  I was late to my meeting this morning. Two minutes late from “just one more dish” while catching up on the mountain of dishes my wife managed to make on Sunday and Monday.  I looked at the clock and thought “I need to get going” and then said to my self  “well I have time to wash one more dish” which turned into two more dishes and putting a few away.

The third reason I’m late all the time is related to one of the reasons I live out here in rural Idaho in the first place: a desire to avoid the hussle and bustle of driving in the city.  Which isn’t to say that rural people are late all the time, in fact my lateness is never more evident then at church which starts at 10:29:37 every Sunday.  In Seattle Mars Hill would start at 11 AMish or 5 PM or so.  So yeah rural folk run on time, but that’s one of the things I was trying to escape by moving out here.   In the country you actually know how long it takes to drive somewhere.  In Seattle things can’t run on time because no one every knows how long it will take to drive anywhere. Even in Boise (really a pretty small town) during residency I was constantly running all over town and being late to things because of influences outside my control.  So out here I never leave early enough because I think I know how long it will take for me to drive somewhere, which of course “leaving” never counts the 2 minutes to put the shoes on and 45 seconds get my glasses and 25 seconds to pet the cat, etc.  So I’m frequently several minutes late.     

Which leads me to my 4th and 5th  reason for being late all the time: residency ruined me and it’s the nature of my profession.  You can never get caught up in residency. You always have more paper work, more charting, more stuff to look up, a text page to get to, a….whatever.  You are always late for like 3 years straight.  Patient’s have to wait for an hour becuase your procedure took longer then expected.  You are late because a meeting ran long.  Problem is that this doesn’t get much better in private practice.  There’s always another med refill.  Babies want to be delivered either at 3 AM or in the middle of a busy clinic schedule, never at 6:30 PM after I’m done seeing patients.  We allow 15 minutes for a patient visit…but no patient visit takes 15 minutes, the majority take either 3 minutes  (“Yes ma’am you have a virus and you’ll get better.”) or 45 minutes (“How long have you been feeling suicidal….”) and there’s not a good way to guesss before the visit which it’s going to be because the patient will call with the complaint of “not feeling right” for both of those two examples.  So basically over the last 4.5 years I’ve had to deal with always running late in my profession and it’s just sort of carried over into my personal life. 

So in summary I’m late all the time because of my profession, the “one more thing” phenomenom, it being trained into me in residency, and my desire to avoid hussle and bussle.  Let’s see….I’m missing one….what was that….oh yeah and my own selfishness.  Basically I spent 4 years of medical school then 3 years of residency having no control over my time and now that I have control over my time……I have conrol over my time.  Yikes.

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Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 11:41 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I can relate to this post, and while we can’t blame hereditary…there might be a recessive gene in there that applies to lateness.
    As my sister once said, “I think of clocks more as decorations.” Once she said this everything started to make more sense to my husband, Rory. He was born with an internal clock, he is ALWAYS aware of the time. He also likes to predict our time of arrival to the exact minute and second if possible.
    Then came me….I don’t count in my head, and avoid any kind of math…even adding up minutes. At first it was completely baffling to him that I really had no idea what time it was. I have made an effort.
    However, having two small children, and living in a very very rural place did not help our timeliness. Unfortunately, it never takes less time to get anywhere…it is always a really long drive.
    But we found a trick that has really helped. We have to not only factor in drive time, but we have to factor in no less than 15 minutes load time. This helps account for those last minute diapers, the complete outfit change, the blanket, milk etc that are needed…and hopefully guarantees that I get to brush my teeth.

  2. The secret is deciding that you enjoy being early. fight selfishness with selfishness i always say.

    • Yeah, problem is right now that I thought of another reason why I’m late a lot: I hate waiting around. I’d rather wait around at home and be late then be early and wait around somewhere else. Now how to spin this for my brain to change the way it thinks…

      • that’s easy, ALWAYS have a good book with you.


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