Whenever I catch myself thinking, “Oh, I have plenty of time”, that’s when I know I’ll be late.
It happened again on Tuesday morning. I was listening to a meeting on my phone while getting dressed, and for a moment, had to triple-check my camera wasn’t working, while I randomly pulled an almost-dry dress off the washing line and threw it on. Add earphones, and I was ready to go. I planned on walking the scenic route – park, maybe seaside – the weather was nice.
Half a block later, I started thinking about masks. Did I need one? Was I going to use public transport? No one here used masks, but maybe I’d need one in the office building? It had been exactly six months since I last went there. Maybe I’d better have one on me just in case.
I turned back, went inside and waited for the elevator. When it arrived, I happened to get a good look of myself in the brightly lit mirror for the first time that day. I saw that my dress had a hole in it – right in the middle. Dammit!
My pace quickened and soon I was back in our apartment, square one, grabbing a mask and, while I was at it, deciding to hastily stitch my dress, too. I looked at the time: there it was – I was now officially in a hurry. I could still make it but it was getting tight.
Not a great seamstress, I still managed to somewhat conceal the ugly hole in my dress and raced out, taking the stairs down. Altering between speed-walking and jogging, I took the shortest route – the seaside park was so far off my mind I didn’t even feel bad for missing the detour.
I could feel sweat on my forehead and my shoe had a pebble. Dodging construction work, at some point I realised I wouldn’t make it there on foot anymore, I had to take the tram. It was just two stops and yet I had to pay for a full ticket. I was about to meet my boss’s new boss for the very first time, face to face, and I didn’t want to show up late, red from running.
The mobile app for tram tickets was taking a long time to download and before I had time to purchase the ticket, the tram was already at the one stop between my boarding and deboarding.
This stop was where I had once been ambushed by ticket collectors during a very similar moment of a rushed decision to hop on the tram and innocently wait for the ticket app to function. By some miracle, they had completely ignored me that time, like I had succeeded in making myself invisible by holding my breath, and I had been spared the steep fee for riding ticketless despite my good intentions. I hadn’t used trams much since the drivers stopped selling tickets.
This time, my ticket downloaded just moments before I hopped off the tram, and, disappointingly, no one checked it. The office building loomed in front of me and I remembered that half a year ago two entrances out of four were closed for renovation. I wondered if that still was the case – had they been working all this time or staying at home?
As I remembered that I didn’t remember which entry I should use, I felt stressed like I hadn’t felt for half a year – working from home in your yoga pants involved far fewer time management issues.
To make things worse, management’s top floor was the venue of our meeting and it had the peculiar disadvantage of only being reachable by some of the building’s elevators, and I never remembered which ones. It felt like a maze, one that I had no time to contemplate. I took the nearest door. To play it safe, I decided to take the elevator to the 8th floor and use stairs for the rest of the way.
At one minute to nine, I opened the door to the conference room where a tiny woman awaited me, and the rest of my team. The room was filled with nervous energy – the kind you don’t notice during muted Teams meetings. I had made it. Now I just acted like I knew what I was doing.
After the meeting, when the sweat had barely cooled off, I had another appointment: I had to take my laptop to IT, because the video wasn’t working on Teams. My computer had already had the inconvenient issue of its sounds not working without using headphones, but now that the video was broken too, it was all getting to be a bit too much.
I worked from home with a computer that had no sound or video, and yet my boss didn’t think I needed a new computer. So I asked for a second opinion.
I ended up staying at IT for a good hour listening to jokes about my broken webcam and how the only way it would work was that I needed to complete the tedious process of uninstalling and reinstalling Teams on a daily basis. In the end, that was the only solution they came up with, no joke.
That, or a new computer, which would require me to come back to the office another day for a set appointment. Oh boy.