“Shows promise but needs to hand in homework on time, and not leave it for the last minute. Repeatedly tardy. Promoted to third grade.”
“Bright student. Peter’s work shows brilliance but seeing it only occasionally makes it hard to assess. Procrastinates continually! Promoted to the ninth grade.”
“Ah, Mr. Thale. Nice of you to join us.” The teacher’s words were accompanied by the obligatory titters as Peter stumbled into the classroom. “Class does begin at 8:00am. It is not a suggested time you know. I will have to mark you tardy again.”
Peter nodded his acquiescence. It was the third time since the term began a fortnight prior. “I tried my best to be on time, but you know, things just happen…”
“Son. Peter! Get up!” His mother was practically yelling in his ear. “It’s your first day on the job, get up!”
“Hmmmp. I’m up, I’m up!”
“OK. Well I have to get to work. Please don’t be late! Sarah only gave you this job because we’re friends. She knows your history of dawdling. Please prove her wrong.”
“Ok, ok mom. Just get off my back all right?”
As she left the room he heard her mumbling her usual litany, “I just don’t know! I am NEVER late! I always get him up in good time. Where did I go wrong, why can’t he ever be on time?”
Peter checked the bedside alarm. Ah, still another 30 minutes before I have to leave. I can shave and get ready in 10 minutes. Sleep for another 20…
“Hey, come on. It’s my first day on the job. Give me a break please? I just overslept. It won’t happen again.”
Sarah glared at Peter. “You were warned. I told you, I told your mom that if you were late you were not working here. I need people to be on time. Running a medical lab takes precision and split second timing. And tomorrow you’ll come up with some other excuse. I can’t allow tardiness to interfere with my company. Peter, you’re so brilliant, but you’re wasting it by not controlling your time. ‘Going with the flow’ doesn’t work in the real world I’m afraid. I have to let you go.”
“Peter! My parents and I have been waiting around for you for 90 minutes! We didn’t want to start without you, but I insisted because we were hungry. How can you be so inconsiderate?”
“I’m sorry Lauren.”
Lauren flicked her dancing brunette hair out of her face. “Sorry? I’m sick of sorry! Get up on time, stop wasting time. You’re not improving, you’re getting worse!”
Peter hung his head. I resolve to get better. Hmmm. I wonder what there is to eat…
My dearest Peter: (he read)
I love you so much you know that, but I cannot take life with you any longer. You are NEVER on time for anything. Remember our wedding day? It’s traditional for the bride to be late, not the groom! You kept us waiting for 40 minutes because you were ‘busy and forgot the time’. I feel neglected, and worst of all I feel I’m not important enough to you that you would find time for me. Something else always crops up. I need to step away for a while and re-examine my future with you. The children are being affected by your constant tardiness and I’m running out of excuses for you. I try to make you look good in front of them, but when you miss the umpteenth ball game because you can’t plan your time properly, even with telephone reminders from me, then something has to change. Obviously it is not you, you’re incapable of it from the looks of things. You can contact me at my mother’s. I will never stop loving you, but I can’t go on like this.
Peter dropped the letter on the floor and realized how quiet the house was except for the blare of the television in his office – he must have forgotten to turn it off before leaving for work. He would call Lauren right now, absolutely. He strode into his office, picked up the phone and began to dial when “American Chopper" arrested his attention. I’ll call after this. She’ll understand.
On the other side of town Lauren sat by the phone, drumming her fingers and smiling nervously every time her sons looked her. “Daddy will call soon,” she told them hopefully.
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