Timing is tricky business, and it’s been plaguing me all my life. It started when I was six or seven. I tried to opt out of second grade, but they wouldn’t let me. Why? Timing. I’m not good at ending conversations in appropriate places. Why? Timing. I am generally not considered to be a funny person. Why? Timing.
As I grow up and ever older, many of my old struggles get caught in the shrinking timeline and fall behind me. But this old foe of mine is still turning up to prank me at every turn.
I had an interview of sorts yesterday for a volunteer position. I mapped it out in advance, timed the trip via Google maps, and figured that I could make my way to Dorchester a tad early, have my quick meeting, then be out to Cambridge with a good hour to spare before class. No problem.
My first problem is the bus system. I don’t trust it, and I don’t trust the MBTA or Google time estimations. The trouble is the timing between the buses. When you hit it just right, you can switch Bam! Bam! Bam! between the lines and be at your destination in no time flat. If you hit it just wrong, you could wait twenty minutes at every stop. When Google estimated I would arrive at my destination fifteen minutes early, I didn’t quite trust it, so I left ten minutes earlier. Bigger margin for error.
Much bigger, as it turned out. I ended up being forty minutes early.
Unflummoxed, I set out from the bus stop to find a coffee shop, cafe, or fast food restaurant—anywhere I could buy a cup of tea and kill a little time with my book. This would have been fine, except that there was nothing within reasonable walking distance. Zip. Nada. Nilch. Not even a McDonald’s or a Dunkin’ Donuts. All I could find was a Walgreen’s. So instead of enjoying an inconspicuous read with a nice cup of tea, I wandered around a pharmacy with my clown car of a book bag. After ten minutes of wandering, I realized I probably looked like a shoplifter with my giant bag, so I quickly bought eyeliner, hair gel, and a Coke and left, feeling ridiculous on several different levels. And why? Timing.
My interview went wonderfully, and I’m now set up to assist the teacher of an English Language Arts class for parents at one of the Roxbury schools, with the potential to develop my own class as an internship in the spring. The only trouble? Instead of half an hour, I spent an hour an a half with the teacher. It was time well spent, but I was left with only an hour to make the trip from Dorchester to Cambridge. Some people might have managed it, but I have a true adversary in this regard.
The timing of the buses put me at Allston (still a twenty minute bus-ride and ten-minute walk from class) about fifteen minutes after my class had already started. In translation, a ride that had taken me forty minutes in one direction took me an hour and a quarter in the other. I admitted defeat and got off the bus near my apartment, not wanting to interrupt the class with my tardiness.
I have seen the enemy, and it is timing.