There is, perhaps, no single experience as bad as arriving late to something important. I should know, because I do it all the time. I can see how some people might think that discovering you have cancer or that your dog just got run over by a lawnmower might be worse than, say, arriving late to a hockey game or missing the first five minutes of class, but those folks are just plain crazy, as my pappy used to say.
Every time I show up to something late, I just feel stupid. And that is what makes the experience, for me, so bad. As I walk into the already-full classroom at a quarter past the hour, everyone looking at me with those accusing eyes, I can't help but wonder why I didn't manage to leave whatever I was doing before the unspecified event just a little sooner. Was the last five minutes of Yan Can Cook that riveting? Sure, I wouldn't have known how the braised lamb shanks would have turned out, but I could probably have found out on some crazy fan Web site or something, right? Or maybe they'll eventually release the show on DVD, as they have with so many other deserving television programs. Did I really think that it would only take three minutes to drive from my office in the Foothills campus to the main campus in the middle of the day? I somehow could always convince myself of this as I tried getting that extra bit of work done before leaving. I'm so stupid. Idiot!
Sigh, I guess I just can't help it. It's like my super-hero curse, like Spiderman's great power and great responsibility I have my great chronological ineptitude and lack of timing. "Lateman" doesn't even sound cool. I doubt the people at Marvel would give me much of a look. They'd have to find some way for me to save lives by not being someplace when I was supposed to be. "LateMan" saves the day when he attempts to stop a van loaded with nuns from driving off a cliff, arrives too late and as a result watches the van drive off the cliff instead of slamming into another bus full of starving orphans. Exciting stuff-I'm sure I'd be killed off by issue four.
Given my tardy nature, I suppose it's fitting that this orderly collection of my random thoughts and bizarre experiences first appears in this fine publication a few weeks into the semester. I haven't really missed much, I hope. I'm sure some people have probably said or done some things that have probably offended or not offended someone else. Maybe there has been some other newsworthy item, like a war breaking out or something. Or maybe even peace…ha, ha, ha…aw, that's a good one. Excuse me? Oh? They've declared a cease-fire in the Middle East and are making the first progress toward a lasting peace in the region? Uh huh. Nice try.
Despite the late arrival, I'll do my best to try to keep you informed and entertained over the coming weeks and distract you from whatever lecture material you are supposed to be paying attention to. I bet even the nonsense I write makes more sense to most of you than sequential, non-derivitized gene splices. It helps that I just made those up, but you get the idea.
So, hopefully by this point you are looking forward to being dragged through the minutia of my life and being exposed to the genius of my opinions on such totally irrelevant topics as skiing, old cars and funny looking animals. As a warning, from time to time I might try to say something serious. In those cases, it's just best to smile at me and nod and it will all be over soon. Well, don't smile at me, unless you are one of my undoubtedly shocked colleagues in the Atmospheric Science Department. You'll probably never actually see me, but you can smile at the words, shake your head and mutter, "Man, what a loser." However, if you do happen to see me, try not to slow me down, I'm probably trying get somewhere in a hurry and I'm most definitely late.
Gavin McMeeking is a graduate atmospheric science student. His column runs every Friday in the Collegian.