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Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Tell Us About....Time!

 

Dear friends. Today's post is a new monthly creative challenge.  I'm joined by bloggers from the US, UK and Australia - Mary Katherine, Deb, Jill and Penny - to answer a different prompt on the 3rd Thursday of the month.  This time it's mine, and it's Time.

Now, I am one of those people who is early for everything.  I build in extra time to get to the airport, station, gym classes, meeting with friends...you name it.  I don't think of it as a bind but a bonus, because if I get to the airport early, for example, I'm checked in and have time to breathe, relax with a coffee or mooch round the shops.

However, my timekeeping doesn't always go to plan, despite my best efforts.  I cringe as I remember four incidents where everything conspired against me and I was LATE.  These episodes bring me out in a cold sweat.

Let me unburden myself.

THE ANGRY TOUR LEADER

Mr Mutton was running the world's top 10 marathons in the mid 2000s, and I was accompanying him.  

In 2009 we went to Toronto. I enjoyed this marathon because I was able to catch up with an old school friend, Duncan. He knew his way around the public transport system and I was able to pop up several times along the route to see John, shown below.

John Hanlon, husband of Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon, with his Toronto Marathon medal 2009

John and I booked a sightseeing trip that would take us to Niagara Falls, plus Niagara on the Lake for shopping and a winery. 

After we'd seen the falls from the Maid o' the Mist, we were given some time to spend in Niagara.  It was freezing cold for September and I hadn't dressed warmly enough, so we decided to go for a coffee because there didn't seem to be much else to do.

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton and husband on the Maid o' the Mist at Niagara Falls in Canada, before they were horribly late for the coach

The tour leader had told us emphatically what time we had to be back at the coach. But for some reason, John and I both misheard. I was surprised at the time that we had so much free time. 

After the coffee we were a bit bored. Eventually I persuaded Mr M to return to the coach early.  

When we got back, the coach was leaving!

We managed to stop it. The tour leader was apoplectic.  They had been waiting for 30 minutes! Yes, we were 30 minutes late!  He had just told the driver to leave, and we would have had to find our own way back.

Of course we apologized profusely and felt very foolish. We had to do the walk of shame as we made our way to our seats.  The mortification! As a result we didn't get so long to spend at Niagara on the Lake and the winery, which John thought, in both cases, was probably a good thing. 

PROFESSIONAL SUICIDE

Most years we had a huge annual sales and marketing conference in Jan/Feb in the US. This time, around 2004,  the company was in cost-cutting mode. Although we went to one of the usual venues, the Anaheim Convention Centre near Los Angeles, there were a lot of marquees and temporary structures.  

Every year managers would be asked to nominate people to join senior executives on their table for lunch or dinner.  I was chosen to sit on the chief marketing officer's table for a lunch.  I knew her quite well because she had previously run the global PR team, and I'd been in a PR role.  I'd now moved to a different team and was managing launches.

Finding your way to meeting rooms in Anaheim was often challenging because the company used two huge hotels as well as the convention centre. With around 3,500 people attending, hundreds of conference rooms were involved.  We usually had a map showing all the locations, but on this occasion, some of the temporary structures were missing, or hard to find because they didn't have much signage.

I thought I knew where the venue was, but it turned out it was not the right place. I'd allowed some time (naturally) but couldn't find anyone who knew where the room was. Eventually I found it but was 10 minutes late.

The CMO was already in full flow at the table, with one spare seat. I murmured a horrified apology and sat down, but she actually paused to glare at me. 

WE MISSED THE PLANE

I worked for a couple of years at BT International in London as their press office manager.  There were occasional meet-ups with my counterparts in BT's regional operations. In a fit of largess one day, I offered them the use of the BTI earth station at Goonhilly in Cornwall for the next meeting. I cleared it with the team at Goonhilly and it was arranged. 

The two day meeting was a big success and my peers were blown away by the facility  (not literally), where we had recently hosted an up and coming band called Transvision Vamp for an ITV kids' programme called Ghost Train. 

A couple of people asked if they could get a lift with me in my hire car to Newquay Airport. I agreed and off we went.  

There was no sat nav at the time, in the late 1980s, and hardly any mobile phones, even if you worked for BT.  I figured I would find the airport OK because I'd driven from it in the first instance, and there would be signs.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have a terrible sense of direction and it wasn't long before I realised I'd gone the wrong way.  I decided to brazen it out and keep them talking as I retraced the route, hopefully with no-one the wiser.  

It was when we saw a plane overhead they started to get suspicious, as there were only a couple of flights a day. 

By the time we got to the airport. the plane was a distant memory.  We had to wait several hours for the next one in what was basically a huge, cold, hangar. The cafe was closed. 

I WAS HAPPY TO MISS THE FLIGHT....EXCEPT.....

I had been delayed in traffic in Paris and arrived at CDG knowing I'd missed my flight.  I wasn't too concerned, I knew there was another flight and I was happy to get re-booked.

But the airline staff told me I could still make the flight, if I ran.  They even made a call to the gate to alert them that a late passenger was on the way.

If you've been to Charles de Gaulle, you'll know it's quite big. And the terminal was probably as far away as it could possibly be.  I was weighed down with a heavy laptop bag, a suitcase with wonky wheels and a coat over my arm, and had to move as fast as I could.  It was sheer misery having to board out-of-breath to a sea of grumpy faces, knowing that I would have been quite content to let the plane go.

I GOT LOST AT HEATHROW (AND SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER)

I arrived at Heathrow in my car to pick up the Chief Marketing Officer  (a different one than the earlier encounter). I was now running UK marketing, and it was traditional in this situation to greet an arriving US exec.

I was confident because I often flew from Heathrow and prided myself on knowing it like the back of my hand.

She arrived on time and we set off.  She was to be dropped at one of the big hotels to have time for a nap before meeting the broader UK marketing and sales team in a few hours.

You've guessed it, I missed the exit on one of the big Heathrow roundabouts. 

After realising, belatedly, I was on the wrong road, and heading for Slough, I nonchalantly turned back on yet another roundabout. She looked at me quizzically. I was still brazening it out, a failed strategy from all those years before.

Would you believe I somehow did the same thing again, at the previous roundabout.

We got to the hotel probably 20 minutes later.  She was furious. To make matters worse, the hotel didn't seem to have the reservation, and I was getting blamed for that too, although it was nothing to do with me.

Eventually I saw her heading off to her room, fuming. In retaliation she cancelled my presenting slot "because there wasn't enough time." Another professional suicide. 

ENJOY MY FRIENDS' INTERPRETATIONS OF "TIME"

Mary Katherine from MK's Adventures in Style  muses on how our perception of time changes as we age. 

Jill from Grownup Glamour has taken inspiration from an art installation she viewed in Melbourne,  and reflects on looking back at times past.

Debbie from Deb's World has spent a whole year looking at Time and still managed to get sidetracked when writing her post - it took on a life of its own. 


Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper  began her piece by looking at clocks but somehow ended up looking at the meaning of life. The wearing of a purple hat was involved!

We have also been joined by Sharon at Best Before End Date, who reflects on how we always think we have enough time, and Suzy at The Grey Brunette, who has a special reason for making sure she lives life to the fullest. 

We'll be back next month, third Wednesday of the month (UK/US) and third Thursday (Australia). 

Are you an early bird, or do you leave everything to the last minute?  Do let us know in the comments.

Sharing this post with: #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Rena at Fine WhateverTalent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling Boomer #SpreadTheKindness at Shelbee on the Edge,  Traffic Jam Weekend at Marsha in the Middle

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