The following is a conversation I had with myself, standing outside a friend’s house this weekend.
“I’m half an hour late. That’s ok, isn’t it? People aren’t on time to things. At least, I’m not on time to things. Am I always the last person to arrive at everything? That can’t be, because I distinctly remember forming the opinion that it’s basically fine to arrive after things start because someone else did that and it wasn’t a problem. What if that was the only time they’d ever been late to anything? And I chose that moment to form a habit of being late to social events? Nothing happens in the first half hour of a social gathering anyway, perhaps some people will have taken their shoes off already. I reckon I’m pretty quick at that, so I’ll be fine.
I should double check the invite to make sure it’s not tomorrow or yesterday or at someone else’s house or involves dancing.
The invite lists the time in Central time, but the app has helpfully converted it to Mountain.
Do they know that? Was that on purpose? Or did they mean Mountain time? Am I now half an hour early as well as half an hour late?
Should I just go in? If I do, should I acknowledge that I don’t know when it starts? Do I explain why I’m confused? No, that won’t work, they’ll suggest I stay, and I’ll either be awkwardly sitting on a couch or feebly trying to help and making a mess of something, like trying to get a glass of water and accidentally starting the house on fire. I suppose I could say “I’ll come back,” but then it’s just a more understated kind of weird. What if , on the way back down, I pass someone else who is genuinely coming early? Do I explain to them that I’m just leaving for a bit because I’m incompetent? Or if I don’t explain, what if they ask where I was going when they get inside, and the others have to explain?
Maybe I should go in now, and if I am early rather than late, I’ll just not say anything. Act completely normal. Will that work? Is half an hour too early not to explain? What would I do if someone came to my house half an hour early? Actually, I’d be quite annoyed as I thought I still had that time to myself, but that’s not something you can tell the person who arrived, so I’d overcompensate by being extremely nice so they didn’t notice. I don’t think I can handle wondering if that’s going on in someone else’s head as well. No. If I go in now and I’m early, I’ll have to explain and either be awkwardly there or awkwardly not there.
What if I leave it a few more minutes? What’s the maximum time I could be potentially late to something and not have it be weird, while also being ok if I’m early instead? If I’m 40 minutes late or 20 minutes early is that better? 45 minutes late or 15 minutes early? Fifteen minutes still seems long enough to have to explain if it turns out I’m early, but now the explanation is worse, because in addition to having got the time wrong, I’m also admitting that I would have been 45 minutes late, which doesn’t sound good. Could I risk being either an hour late or on time? If I am an hour late, I can explain the time difference thing, and if I’m on time, everything will be fine. Yes, that’s a reasonable plan. I’ll risk being 60 minutes late to seeing some friends I genuinely want to see, to avoid any of the awkward worst case scenarios I’ve developed for being 30 minutes early. Perfect.”
I wandered around the street for 30 minutes, and then went in. On time. I can’t help feel this isn’t the way normal people solve problems.