Marlene Hauser

lady in an expensive cream blouse looking at her watch

15-Minute Rule

Hi Everyone,

“Always arrive early.”

That’s what my grandmother said and that’s what she did. Why? Being “on time” to my grandmother Anne Theresa meant being early, even if you had to wait. In addition, you had to leave in advance to be early (on time), which we always did. The funny thing is that with my grandmother things always did work out, smoothly, seamlessly.

Some people said things “clicked” for her because she ruled with an iron fist (in a velvet glove), but I think not. I think she just lived with that one dictum, arrive early, and as a result things had a better chance of working out. So how early, do you ask? The rule seemed to be fifteen minutes, not so long that you couldn’t wait and not so late that you couldn’t make up for the odd delay.

Even the alarm in the morning had to be set fifteen minutes before you intended to get up, which leaned towards being even earlier than you actually needed to awaken anyway. Fifteen minutes and then another fifteen seemed to be added to everything. In other words, I had to be early even for myself. All of this came to mind again when I was booking flights to South Africa, and even more freshly again when I booked drivers for the return trip from Plettenberg Bay to George.

I always seem to lose track of the hours I am meant to arrive beforehand for domestic flights and international flights. Is it two for local? Three for international? Vice versa? Does it really matter? Can’t I check in online? How many friends do I know who arrive late, with the aeroplane already boarded, door closing, but yet with boarding pass in hand, they still make it. How do they do that, I wonder? It seems practically a miracle to me, while I sit safely observing from my seat, bags stowed, water bottle in hand.

Today the car dispatcher reminded me. “You need to be at the airport two hours in advance. And the trip to George is an hour. So give it an hour and fifteen.” I did the quick calculations, and without even thinking really, I added fifteen for the airport (two hours and fifteen) and one hour fifteen plus fifteen for the drive. The dispatcher agreed. “Perfect. You never know what can happen. Better early than late.”

He took the words right out of my grandmother’s mouth. “Better early than late.” As I noted the 11:00 a.m. start in my diary, I thought about the woman who drilled that maxim into me from the earliest age—so early, like brushing my teeth, that I really didn’t have the privilege of questioning it. It just was—like the sun rising or setting, or water running downhill. How much high opinion she garnered from myself and others for that simple act of respect, the valuing of not just her time but theirs.

“Arrive early”, I now understand, was Anne Theresa’s way not so much of “getting it right” or having things “go according to plan”, but it was her way of showing love and recognition to her fellow humans.

So, here’s wishing you a Happy 4 th of July, full of all things American, exuberant and independent, fireworks even, but mostly an ability to simply “arrive early” out of a respect for yourself and others, chiefly the time they spend.



Photo by Liudmila Chernetska | iStock

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