I hate being late for things. I find the running-late feeling so overwhelmingly anxiety-producing that I try to avoid it as much as possible, which was far easier before children, when my getting-ready time involved only hair-drying and the application of make-up. Now it involves hair and make-up plus bathing the kids and laying out pyjamas and teaching the babysitter how to use the TV and saying long goodbyes. Because I don’t like running late I like to build in buffer time by aiming to arrive at least 15 minutes before I need to (more if I need to find parking). I then build buffer time into the travel time, and the getting-ready time, too, and then I forget whether I’ve already built buffer time into my calculations (does it actually start at 7pm or was it 6:30pm?! Maybe we should leave at 6pm instead…) and then I have to check the details and start the process all over again.
If I’m running late (which generally means I’m leaving exactly when I should to get somewhere right on time rather than early), I don’t like being a passenger in a car, especially if I’m worried the driver isn’t as worried as I am about the time. A couple of years ago I heard that airplane passengers responded far more sympathetically to screaming babies if the parents seemed to be doing something about their child’s cries; if the parents appeared to be trying their hardest to pacify the child, even if they knew their efforts were making no difference whatsoever to the crying, people around them were less likely to get frustrated and impatient with the sound. I’m the same with others driving when I’m feeling anxious about the time: if you seem to be doing your best to get us to our destination as quickly as possible, I will love and appreciate you. Appear stressed, keep your eye on the speedo, sit right on the speed limit, mention the time repeatedly, change lanes, leave an appropriate but not-large gap between you and the car in front, and I will be fine. Cruise along at 40km/h (when the limit is 60) while chatting to me about something frivolous, and I will possibly die from panic. Or you will die from my panic.
Once Alan and I spectacularly misjudged how much time it’d take to drive from Lane Cove to the airport in afternoon traffic, and ended up having to rearrange all of our parking plans in order to save time and not miss our flight. We ended up heading to the long-term parking (we were going away for a few nights) which was quite a distance from the airport, and after waiting anxiously for the bus to take us from the carpark to the terminal, I finally cracked it. I knocked on the window of a car that was leaving the carpark, and begged the driver to take us instead. He said yes, and though he wasn’t much of a conversationalist, he embraced his sudden neededness in an I’ve-been-waiting-my-whole-life-for-this-moment kind of way and zoomed to the terminal at superhero speeds. He refused to take our money, and wished us luck; we grabbed our bags and raced inside. We soon discovered we’d missed our plane, but the fact that the dude had so obviously tried made it all (mostly) okay.