“You are so much like your father.”
I’ve had people say this to me, and I just don’t get it. It’s crazy — we are nothing alike.
I mean, I don’t even like coffee, and he practically worships it! That alone ought to end all comparisons.
But mostly it has to be our relationship with time. We couldn’t be any further apart.
For example, he told me a couple of months back that he needed someone to go with him to the VA hospital in Kernersville and drive him home. He didn’t think he’d be allowed to drive himself back after some simple procedure.
No problem, I’ve got that day off. What time is the appointment?
I spent five years driving 59 miles to Greensboro every day, so I know I can be in Kernersville in 50 mins. If we left at 10 a.m., that would get us there at 10:50 a.m. That would allow a few minutes to get parked and walk inside.
Did we leave at 10 a.m.? No, we left at 8:30 a.m.
Dad believed we needed to leave plenty of wiggle room in case of some traffic accident or road construction causing major delays. And we should figure in more time for parking and making our way inside, and we should check in early before the appointment time. I couldn’t see making the extra time an hour and a half, but okay.
The next morning we were delayed a few minutes seeing that Mom was lined up for her own doctor appointment before we left. No problem, we built in an extra 90 minutes, right? Dad might possibly have broken the speed limit once or twice (or constantly) on the way to Kernersville as if we had to make up that lost time.
We wound up near the VA hospital with that full hour and a half to kill. So we went into a fast food place and got something to eat. I was asked, “Are you ready?” while I still had half my orange juice left to go. We had an hour and a half to kill, and I’m being rushed through orange juice?
I went to the bathroom, and he was already outside standing by the vehicle waiting for me when I returned.
We then spent a very long time waiting in the lobby to be called back to see the doctor — luckily I took my Kindle and did some reading.
Dad’s way of doing things drives me crazy, but granted he is never late (except for when he got lost coming to my wedding, THEN he was late).
I, on the other hand, have this mathematical mind that tries to calculate precisely how long something should take to accomplish — and I constantly fail miserably at meeting those estimates.
I am seldom on time for anything — for a variety of reasons. On the job, it is often because I can’t start a new task until something else is done. I can’t leave to go to a school board meeting until I’ve gotten my weekly column written, or I can’t get to an interview until I’ve finished an important phone call.
Outside of work, I am often late simply because my calculations didn’t take into account all the many variables that could come into play.
I can get to the movie theater in 15 minutes. If the movie starts at 7:25 p.m., I’ll leave at 7:10 p.m.
However, I fail to consider that I need to feed my dog and cat. I might want to stop in and check on my parents before being out of touch for a few hours. I might be just headed out the door when the call of nature sends me to the bathroom instead.
And worst of all is the constant losing of everything I own. Many a time I have been about to leave when I can’t because I haven’t found my car key or my camera or the memory card that goes in the camera.
Everything always takes so much longer than I ever could imagine it would. Jiffy Lube can change my oil in 30 minutes or less, so why does it take me two hours?
Well, first there might be any number of things clogging the garage that have to be moved out of the way before any work can get done. Then I’ll be under the car and realize I have the wrong socket because this size fits the car I sold in 2013 (but 9/16ths is still the number that sticks in my head).
I’ll struggle to find the oil pan and/or the oil filter wrench. I’ll have some accident like letting a wrench slip and slamming my knuckles into solid metal so I’m bleeding all over the place, and now the tools are super slippery. I’ll spill oil on the floor and have to spend time cleaning it up.
Then there’s putting everything back in the garage when I’m done.
Where does the time go?
Monday night I spent two-and-a-half hours working on a cheap guitar I bought recently in need of some TLC. I only spent about 45-50 minutes on the work and the rest of that night pulling my hair out.
Where is that stop bar I bought months ago but never used? It was in a cardboard box with some other parts. No? Let’s waste half an hour tearing the house apart.
Finally found the piece, and it was the wrong color. Another group of parts I had were the right color, but the wrong shape, so the guitar had to be modified to make them fit. This included drilling some holes and filling in the old holes.
Okay, let’s adjust the truss rod. I just need to take off the truss rod cover and lay it down here. Five minutes later I reach for that cover, only it has sprouted legs and walked off. I spend another half-hour searching for this little 2½-inch metal piece to no avail.
Right now at my house there is a guitar with shiny new tuners and brightly polished frets — and a gaping hole where a truss rod cover should be. Still haven’t found it two days later.
Nope, no one who mismanages time like I do could ever be compared to my dad.
Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.