My poor PA was late last night.
For those who know me well, they will also know that it's best not to be late for an appointment with me. I regard myself as extremely punctual - a family trait that would see us in the car, leaving for a holiday at precisely 8am each time. If I arrange to meet my sister somewhere, we'll arrive at exactly the same time, five minutes before the time agreed. My ten minute walk to school would have each road crossing and landmark timed to the second, with the bell going just as I came into view of the main door. I would rather be twenty minutes early than five minutes late and pride myself on never being late. Let's not mention helicopters here though...
As I say, my friends are well versed in this. Most of my friends are pretty good with time anyway, but some have had to learn the hard way. For though I'll forgive the occasional lapse, and I'm aware that sometimes unexpected delays can occur, when it comes to chronic late time-keeping my patience wears extremely thin, and it's one of the few faux pas that can still turn me from a gentle sweet man to a raging fury. My good friend Emily suffered heavily some years back. With a genetic disposition for being twenty or more minutes late for everything, our friendship creaked under the strain of her late arrival and my built-up temper; it is with great pride that I can say that these days she is never late, for me at least. I broke up with my girlfriend in Korea in large part due to her lateness. She would almost always be half an hour late for every meeting we ever had. This soon became a major issue. Because our meetings would inevitably begin with me ranting or in a mad huff, and with her in a panicked fluster. "Korean girls are always late - it's Korean culture," she would claim, but that didn't wash me with me. She became scared to even meet me if she knew she'd be more than five minutes late, and one time this fear translated into not turning up at all. As you can imagine, things didn't last long after that.
On my part, I feel my impatience is justified. You wouldn't be late for a job interview, or a meeting with your boss, so why should you be late for a friend? Especially if someone is waiting outside, it's just plain rude to leave them hanging around there. I'm not unreasonable, I allow for five minutes of lateness, but once we enter that sixth minute my blood begins to boil. And no, a text message at the agreed time of meeting warning of lateness will not do. In fact, it just makes it worse.
And so my poor PA came a cropper of this pet hate of mine.
For a couple of weeks, there's been a double bed in my van. My PA put it there, as it was being moved from a friend's flat to her mother's home. I've not needed the van much in the last two weeks so it's been no big deal, but I was hoping she'd sort it out sooner rather than later. However, as she's not insured to drive it, it was kind of dependent upon me getting round to it. Then, two days ago, new sofas were delivered to my fifth flat, and so I suddenly needed the van to take away the old crappy ones. Two or three times we arranged to get the bed delivered, but each time was cancelled, because of her mother being out, or forgetting to leave the keys , or something. Fortunately, the new tenants of the fifth flat haven't moved in yet, but they've started paying and could move in at any time, therefore it was only professional of me to make sure their new home wasn't clogged up with sofas, so I was very keen to get them out as quickly as possible.
Finally, a time of 8pm yesterday was set, and set in stone as far as I could tell. Rather, her mother would be home at this time, therefore I reckoned if we were ready to at about 7.40pm, the timing would work out well. My PA wasn't in when I went to fetch the van, through the pouring rain, and when I tried calling her her phoned appeared to be switched off our out of batteries. I parked the van on double yellow lines and came back to the flat, but she still wasn't around. It was still before 8 though, and so I supposed she'd just be back for then. Her phone still didn't respond.
At 8.05pm I received a text message - "here in twenty minutes!" Hmm, one, now two cardinal sins. I put some music on, tried to relax, but found myself getting wound up and unjable to concentrate. Twenty minutes passed, no sign, and still no phone response. Thirty minutes, forty, then fifty, and by now by blood was fully boiled. The album I'd put on had finished and my rage had peaked. "Given up. We do this 9am tomorrow" I texted her, and stormed out of the flat, and went round to Green's for a beer and Seinfeld, and to calm down.
My PA arrived back about ten minutes later, it seems, and tried to phone me but I ignored her calls. This was for the best, as I was in a fully-aware rage and fully aware I would be extremely impolite and unreasonable if I spoke to her, so just sent her a message telling her stop phoning me and I'd be calmed down in a while. It was a lucky break for her she didn't see me then because it's the biggest rage I've had in a while - but then, no-one's been late for me in quite a while. And when I did get back, I was returned to a nice mellow state, and was able to greet my poor PA merrily, with no inclination to snap at her. She was almost in tears, and I felt quite bad to be honest, but at least it will have taught her to be dead on time in future. We moved the bed and sofa today, a mere half-hour job, and the air was again rosy.
In other news, I've now passed the six week mark at home, which is a personal record for the last two years, and am actually getting quite impatient to go away again. Not just for financial reasons, but just because I miss the smell of the rigs, the burning fumes, the sweaty men, and the salty sea air. It looks like I'll be on a mini-job next week, but only for a few days. Still no big jobs imminent.
For today, I'm going to Durham in a couple of hours, to reunite with the divine Maebh, for whom adjectives cannot ever adequately describe her radiance, and whom I've not seen in over two and half years, despite many broken promises to visit her. But finally I've made the time. The train leaves at 1.21pm today. I won't be late (and it better not be).