As usual the crowd of people dispersed in seconds and she followed behind preppy, loafer boy. She was a patient person, she thought, but she couldn’t come to terms with the hurry-up-and-wait process by which so many people lived.
Traveling always brings out the best of people’s patience. She was grateful that her job did not require her to travel — she heard horror stories from co-workers who traveled with sports teams and were left behind, ignored, treated as a personal Sky Hop for coaches and players — she preferred to stay at home and work every event. Well, not preferred, but, it is what it is. And it’s better than traveling.
She knew to be early anytime she was required to be somewhere. Not more than 15 minutes, but never late. Her father had embedded the need to be early after years of Sundays. Sunday School started at 10 a.m. and the sermon began at 11 a.m. “If we are going to one, we might as well go to both,” her dad would bark at the kitchen table as the family ate scrambled eggs, bacon and toast.
Everyone hustled to get showered and ready, church wasn’t like it is now with massive auditoriums filled by dancing Christians reaching to the ceiling to praise God. It was truly, ‘here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the doors and see all the people.’ And the people were dressed in their Sunday best.
Her dad was always shaved and ready before everyone else so he would go out to warm up the car. And by warming up the car, he really meant start the timer for everyone to finish getting ready. Once that key went in the ignition of that old Caprice Classic the rest of the family had four minutes to get out to the car so the eight minute car ride could commence, getting to church at 9:45 a.m. precisely.
After a minute, he honked the car horn once. Two minutes, two taps of the horn. Three minutes, the horn expressed the language of the words flowing from his mouth as patience had entirely left his body. He needed to get to church to ask forgiveness for the things he was saying. No one heard the fourth minute horn, thankfully, as family members darted out the side door of the house and to their unwritten, assigned car doors, mostly dressed and ready to confront other Christians. “Take whatever you need so you can finish getting ready at church,” her mother would tell them. “We’ll have 15 minutes once we get there.”
Arriving early for air travel became tricky as years passed… 10 years ago you could show up 30 minutes before the plane pulled away from the gate, run through the terminal and catch a flight. Now, the suggested arrival time for domestic flights is one and a half hours prior but, if you check the airline website in advance you can narrow it down to a more specific time. And if you go to the airport website, you can pinpoint the arrival time even better. It was a lot of research to confirm not arriving more than 15 minutes early to an early arrival time so, she traveled by train.
To be 15 minutes early for a train ride she simply had to show up to Penn Station 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time. No checking in, no checking bags, just pushing and shoving to get to the front at the rope — which she didn’t do. I have my ticket, I only have one bag and the Acela Express is less than three hours, I can stand for three hours if required.
Once the rope was released she swung her bag on her shoulder and inched forward, hoping no one would fall down the stairs. For some strange reason she was always fearful that others would fall down stairs and to do so because of a false need to hurry just flat out baffled her. “Why can’t people accept that life is just one giant delay?” she wondered aloud, her face melting into an attention-grabbing shade of red. Did I say that out loud?
Tony turned back to her. “What?”
Yep, I said that out loud.
“Sorry. Sometimes my mind wanders and words come out of my mouth,” she said, her memory flashing back to the 1998 movie Rush Hour –DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH?
“No problem, I completely understand,” Tony said.
She followed the New York rule of never putting her hand on a handrail but she was cautious, keeping her head down and squarely placing each foot in the middle of each step. When she reached the platform she strolled to the back – or was it the front – looking for a ticket taker. A jolly old New Yorker beamed with, well, as much beam as a New Yorker can express, and confirmed her ticket was valid. She entered the train and went straight to a seat with an electrical outlet and a window. Why doesn’t everyone travel by train, it is so much easier and so accommodating for travelers? She put her bag in the overhead compartment, grabbed some headphones and a power pack and settled in her seat. Hurry up and wait.