What is it about being early that impresses people at work so much? I’m not excluding myself. It impresses me too. Maybe because it’s something I find extremely difficult to pull off on a regular basis. Every morning I tell myself I need to keep progressing toward dressing myself and moving toward the door, but most days I notice the Today Show has started looping stories, and I realize I’m going to have to sheepishly roll in who knows how long after my entire team, yet again.
But I’m starting to think the whole getting in early thing is overrated. Yesterday I had to get to work for an call, which thankfully I can usually manage to do when I have something to motivate me. And I had even drank a few beers at the Cubs game the night before [patting self on back]. So this morning I guess I felt entitled to a little extra time … and I ended up leaving my apartment about 15 minutes later than my usual panic time—when I won't even go back for my travel mug if I’ve discovered I’ve left it sitting on my counter as I step into my building's elevator. Which happens a lot.
So I was strangely relaxed while I was waiting to cross the street to get to my bus stop—didn’t even tempt my fate with a game of George Costanza-esque street frogger when I saw my bus approaching, like I usually do. I did, however, start to get nervous when I was only halfway across the street and another bus appeared right behind it. Oh crap, I thought. I’m going to miss this one too, and then I’ll definitely be waiting forever for the next one. Deflated, I made my way to the empty bus stop, took a seat and opened my book. When I happened to glance up a minute later, though, I couldn’t believe my eyes! A THIRD bus was approaching. And it was practically empty! I boarded and not only got a seat, but had an empty seat next to me to put my mounds of stuff on—something I’ve fantasized about while I’m usually standing, smooshed up against fellow commuters, trying to pretend I don’t realize the corner of my giant bag is poking some unsuspecting suit’s “private” area every time the bus lurches, which is about every 32 seconds.
AND since we were able to cruise by a few empty stops, I actually ended up arriving at my office only a few minutes later than I usually do—AND instead of a mass of people waiting downstairs for the elevators, I saw there were only two people, getting on the first elevator to my right (!) as I swiped my security badge and went through the turnstile, and they held the door for me so I hopped right on and up. Slid into my cube probably only a minute and a half after I normally do—in a much better mood.
Yesterday, on the other hand, I boarded a packed bus, which became more and more packed as we approached the Loop—and got to listen to not only the bus driver yell at us to “MOVE TOWARD THE BACK PLEASE, MOVE TOWARD THE BACK” every five minutes, but also some cowboy who decided to take it upon himself to help herd his fellow commuters, shouting things like, “Come on people don’t be shy. We’re all just trying to get to work,” and “Hope we all remembered to put on our Dial today.” Thanks, buddy, for telling us all what to do, because we don’t all take this bus EVERY MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY. And by the way, you don’t “put on” Dial, and you’re not funny—probably not ever—certainly not at
But I did arrive at work on time for my call … and here’s about how it went:
8:35—“Hello … Hello … Thanks everyone for joining … I know my screen is black too … We’re having some technical difficulty with Live Meeting … Bear with us for a few minutes.”
—“Thank you for your patience … Still working on the Live Meeting … By the way we’re going to record this presentation … Does everyone have the exercise we sent with the invite?”
8:45—“Does everyone have the exercise we asked you to do? …. What exercise? … It was in the invite.”
—“Does everyone have the exercise?... Well, at least this gives you time to complete the exercise.”
8:50—“Okay we’ve got Live Meeting going now. Thanks everyone for your patience. We’ve decided not to record today.”
Twenty minutes I could have spent sleeping (I had completed the exercise the day before, as instructed) ... although I did enjoy seeing the shock in my co-workers’ faces when they came in to find I had arrived before them. After I told one of them it was because I had an call, he said, “Oh, I thought maybe you’d just wandered over from Wrigley Field.” Now, that alone is almost worth getting out of bed a few minutes early for.