How My MP3 Player Helped Me Stop Running Late


   I've been running late ever since I've been old enough to commute by myself. I got away with it by living in a country where everyone was always, always late. I actually think that "Indian Punctuality" has become an idiom. I remember the shock and horror on the hosts' faces when we arrived on time at a birthday party... nothing was ready as they hadn't been expecting anyone till 2 hours later. We learned fast.
    Perverse life unexpectedly threw me into a country where everyone is always, always  on time. "German Punctuality" is an idiom for sure. They even announce 2-minute train delays ! 
    Needless to say, I had a hard time adjusting. I was surprised that buses didn't wait for me. I was running late most of the time, spending the commute trying to think up an excuse that I knew the German words to explain. Turns out Germans don't like excuses anyway. 

    My efforts at reform were valiant but fruitless. It helped to know exact commuting time, and to realise that I actually have to get to the bus stop first, and that the bus might not always be right there waiting for me, and that it might take me some minutes to get to the destination once I stepped off the bus. Oh, and the Germans even have websites that tell you exactly how much time you need for all that !
    So I started calculating the time I need to get out of the house. It's works better to think "I need to be out of the house by 09:10" than "I need to catch the 09:20 bus".
    Guess what ? I was still running late. I had ignored the time between getting to the door and going out of it: putting on (and coordinating) jacket, shoes, scarf,cap ... ditto for the kids, picking up my sunglasses, spare tissues, keys... So I did two things: I started thinking "I need to be in the hallway at 09:00"; and I created a 'going-out center', fancily known as launch pad. Mine is an Ikea Leksvik bookcase with everything that I need for going out: handbag, lip balm, diapering supplies, gym bag, stuff that needs to be returned, posted or whatever, and much much more.

    I was still running late.

    Finally I realised that I simply dislike my commute, not because it's unpleasant, but because it's such a waste of time.  Somehow I felt that starting early to get ready would be wasting more of that precious time. (So not true, I know, but the subconscious believes the opposite...) 
    That's when the MP3 player comes in. I bought it because I wanted to hoop to music. I ended up taking it with me everywhere, and finally on the buses and trams listened to all of those podcasts and audio books that I didn't find the time to hear till now ! Not that I'm so super busy, but I somehow can't allow myself the leisure of just sitting there and listening to stuff.
    Then I realised that I was looking forward to my next commute to hear the second part of the Quantum touch podcast... hey, I'm not wasting my commute time any more ! Arriving early for the buy means more time to listen to my podcast !

PS You don't actually need an MP3 player to be on time. You can write, make origami or plan world domination.

PPS Don't buy an Ipod. The Sansa Fuze is way better and half the price of the nano. I totally love mine.

PPPS I'm not German yet, I'm still late sometimes. It's just become more of an exception that the rule.

PPPPS I did try reading, but it made me nauseous in the bus.

PPPPPS the photo shows the famous astronomical clock of Prague. Psssst, that photo got featured in the Schmap Prague Guide !

Photo by Eternal*Voyageur    

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