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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Punctuality Freakazoid Meeting is Called to Order

"You can never be too rich or too thin." Isn't that the saying? Of course we all know that isn't true. If you're too rich you are not going to heaven, unless you actually can figure out a way to squeeze yourself through the eye of a needle. And the result of some people being too rich is that a lot of people are too thin.

But can you be too punctual? I think not.

I just had to post this response to our discussion the other day about showing up on time.

My nuns ARE punctuality freakazoids! Not long after entering (that's nunspeak for "joining the convent") we invited some of our sisters in neighboring communities to come for dinner. We told them dinner at 6 and so I jumped in the shower at 5:30 with, what imagined to be plenty of time to ready and was horrified at 5:35 to hear the doorbell ring. One lot at 5:35 and the other two were in the door by 5:45!
In my life up until now "dinner at 6" meant "you should arrive by 6:30ish" but this is a whole new world!
And when they say "we'll leave at 8am" what they mean is "we'll be out on the highway by 8 so you need to have your bum seated by 5 minutes to 8"
I entered about 2 and a half years ago and am coming up to taking first vows soon and there are still many, many days when i think "These are a truly weird mob!"

Well, thanks! But those girls are slackers! If we say we're leaving at 8 am, that means you have to be at least gathered for the leaving event at 7:30. Otherwise, the people that are driving you might get nervous that you're not going to make it by 8 and we can't have that. If you are not in the driveway by 7:45, your phone is going to be ringing to find out where you are.

And dinner at 6 means 6:30 or so? On what planet did that take place? Planet We Like Our Food Cold? Planet We Like Part of the Meal Burned and the Other Part All Mushy? Dinner at 6 means the dinner will be served at 6 and you have to arrive in time to great your host with your host gift and still have time to wash your hands.

Although there is a difference between saying "come at around 6" and "dinner is at 6". But not much of a difference.

At any rate, welcome aboard the train to nunworld! Planet Earth thanks you!

Can you be too punctual? Perhaps.

I tend to be the late person. Not so much because I think I am so much more important than others, but rather I have a hard time cutting people off. For example, if I'm talking to someone who is having a hard time, I cannot just say, "Sorry, gotta run." Do you have suggestions for getting out of these situations so you can be on time, without making the person asking for your help feel unimportant?

Punctuality is really just a part of good manners and good manners are all about people's feelings. The whole point of having good manners is simply to make other people feel at ease. If your good manners make other people feel ill at ease, they aren't good manners any more.

So there in lies your dilemma. "Sorry gotta run" is going to make one person feel bad, while your on time arrival is going to make another person feel good. Staying is going to make one person feel good while making another person anxious.

What to do? There is no cut and dry answer. It depends on what the person asking for help is asking of you? "Where do I file this?" can be dealt with in a "I'll show you that later, I'm expected somewhere just now" manner. "My mother is breathing her last" deserves some hand holding.

Happily for you, there is this great invention called the telephone. A quick "Let me just call this person who is expecting me and then I can stay here with you" will make everyone feel good. Don't just say "I have to make a phone call." And don't act put out or harried.

The only thing better than punctuality is common sense.


Amy said...

Sister, I remember reading a wonderful post here several months ago about why we should pray, but I can't find it now. Could you help me out?

Mama Kitty said...

I totally know where that less-than-punctual sister is coming from. It was about 11 years into my marriage when I found out (not from my husband) why we were never invited to certain family baptisms, birthdays etc. Turns out we were supposed to call and find out when the event was and basically invite ourselves. Weird but true. It's like going to a different culture, only you don't know that until a long time later.

Maureen said...

Ti this day, in "correct" social circles, invitations are worded "five thirty for six o'clock"
Very civilized.One knows exactly when one is expected!

Tami said...

Thank you for the advice SMM. I appreciate it. Keep up the great work with the blog, I so enjoy learning more about the richness of our faith.

Anonymous said...

I second what Tami says. Sister, I have a link for you. Here's a kindred spirit - a five-year-old little boy who answers peoples questions. He's absolutely precious. His blog is called "Ask Nells". My favorite is:
Q: "Should I leave her".
A (Nells): "No. That would be scarry for her".

Here's the link:

Barbara C. said...

Your posts on punctuality keep reminding of a something a read in a book about OCD. One man was obsessed with punctuality. It drove him crazy(er) when his wife's friend was constantly late to that point where he begged his wife not to invite her. Well, after he realized his OCD they got back in contact. It turns out that the friend had OCD, too, but it made her go back and check things 5000 times, making her late for everything.

I always try to be punctual. That used to mean five minutes early. Then I had kids, so now it means no more than five minutes late. And I always try to have understanding for those who are late. Sometimes you just never know.