God, don’t you hate it when people procrastinate and end up doing things at the last minute? My daughter Sarah is one of those procrastinators. I have no idea where she gets it. Picture this, I’ve been up since 7:30 on Sunday morning, even though we don’t have to be at the train station until 9:24. We’re heading to New York to celebrate my sister’s 60th birthday. Sixty is a big deal, I imagine, not being nearly as old as my sister. I’ve had breakfast, fed the dogs, read the newspaper, and played a few rounds of Wordscape on my Ipad before remembering that I have to wrap the present for my sister. I do the wrapping with minutes to spare, rush upstairs, take a really quick shower, get dressed at lightning speed, and I’m down in the family room tapping my feet by the garage door by 9:05.
It is at this point that my daughter decides to one-up me. “Should I print now?” she calls down from her room.
“Uhh, yess!” my wife shouts as she heads to the basement. “I’ll make sure there’s paper in the printer.”
Sarah has been up for much of the night studying for a genetics test she has to take later in the day. She wants to come with us to New York to celebrate my sister’s birthday, but she wants to use the two train rides as study sessions. Now, she decides to print her notes?! Honestly!
I hear our printer chugging away. I head down to oversee the work. It’s a six-year-old Sloth 3250, top-of-the-line when it comes to careful, prudent, and well-thought-out printing. It prints on both sides of the paper, which is great for preserving our natural resources. It pauses between sides, of course, leaving a calming message in its display window: allowing ink to dry. How thoughtful! I watch as page 5 of 64 slowly releases the last of its moisture. “God, for once just smear the goddamn ink!!” I scream, maintaining the “cool under pressure” persona that others envy.
Finally, a hefty wad of paper has accumulated in the tray, and I see that the final sheet is the first page of chapter 7. Good. We’re done.
It’s 9:15. I race upstairs. On a good day we can get to the train station in 5 minutes. This will need to be a good day. I hand the stack to Sarah.
“That’s not the whole thing,” she says, rushing past me toward the basement.
“No, really, it is,” I counter. “It says Chapter 7 on the top sheet.”
“There are four more chapters. Can’t you hear the printer still going?!” She looks at me like I am a total fool.
I run my hands through my hair. “We’re gonna miss the train! How many more pages are there?!”
“Just go without me. I’ll catch the next one.”
“No, I’ll wait.” I whip out my phone to purchase our tickets. We’re certainly not going to be able to buy at the kiosk.
9:17. Sarah is still in the basement. “C’mon, we really have to go,” I holler down the stairs. “Why did you have to wait until the last minute to start this printing, anyway?”
“Please, just go without me. I’ll meet you there,” Sarah screams back, dragging out the vowel in her plea.
“No, I can’t go without you. I just bought the tickets.”
“Please. I’m begging you. Just go.”
9:18 The printer continues in snail mode. “Fine, I’m going.” I grab the adorable butterfly gift bag that I was really hoping my wife or daughter would carry, it looking more like an accessory to their outfits than mine. I slam the door, just in case they were not aware that I am a bit peeved.
9:23. I arrive at the train station sporting the butterfly bag, my Ipad, and a few other items I might need during the ride. I pace on the platform.
9:24. Sarah and Nancy pull into the parking lot and walk briskly to the platform.
9:25. “I knew the train would be late,” Sarah sighs, as though this waiting is exasperating. I know what she’s thinking: she really could have printed at least another ream of notes.
9:26. The train pulls in. “Well, that worked out well,” says my wife, the one who normally arrives 30 minutes early to every event. I’m startled by her out-of-character behavior. Apparently, when I’m impatient, she has to counter that force with extreme serenity.
9:27. We’re settled in a three-across seat. I’m trying to cool down. Procrastinators. They really raise my blood pressure. I pull out a sheet of construction paper and a Sharpie from the butterfly bag.
Sarah looks up from her notes, giving me a sideways glance. “What’s that for?” she asks.
“Oh, I just need to make a birthday card for Barbara.”
“Ahh. Good thing you didn’t wait till the last minute.”
I begin forming the artful bubble letters, grumbling to myself. If there’s one thing I hate more than procrastinators, it’s people who have no tolerance for hypocrisy.