Adventures in Tardyland

In a thrice-weekly, hour-long class, you are considered late if you arrive within twenty minutes after class starts. If you arrive later than that, you are considered absent. In a twice-weekly class, which is half an hour longer, you're late if you arrive within thirty minutes after class starts. Later, you're absent.

It was essential knowledge to anybody who ever studied in La Salle. Not everybody followed it - the professors sometimes had different sets of rules, from grace periods to sheer ruthlessness - but it was still a basic rule we all had to keep in mind. Well, at least until the four-day class week came into effect, after which the first half of the rule became moot.

Being a relatively good student, I tried my best not to be late to class. I was late a few times, the first being in an early morning class, where heavy traffic got the best of the bus I was in. But there was this one time when I arrived on campus thirty minutes after my first class started, making me technically absent. I took a different bus, and got slowly frustrated at how slow the driver was going, never mind traffic actually being light. To make things worse, it was international studies class, a subject that I totally loved and didn't want to miss.

I ended up staying outside the classroom until the class ended. My blockmates noticed me after, and asked me the most obvious question: "Pwede ka namang pumasok, ah. Bakit hindi ka pumasok?" Still frustrated, I actually cried, in front of Ariane and Clarence.

For last night's dinner-slash-block reunion, Clarence and I planned to meet at six in the evening, just after both our office shifts are done. She said she didn't have much to do anyway, since all of her projects are done. I didn't have many things to do, and wasn't willing to walk around the malls for ninety minutes alone.

But she wasn't contacting me on the day itself, so I had to call her up. "May ginagawa pa kami eh," she said. Something urgent, apparently, something I totally understand, since their clients are the fussy, clueless kind. "Mga 6:30, pwede?" I agreed. It was just a thirty-minute wait. I stayed in the office, doing absolutely nothing.

It was seven in the evening when I called again.

"Anong oras ba?"

"7:30 yung reservation."

"Mga 7:15, pwede?"

Sure, I went. I got so bored at the office so I decided to go down, Jonathan Goldstein in hand, and buy something at the nearby 7-Eleven. That, of course, took merely three minutes.

Fifteen past seven, I called Clarence again. No answer. Again. There was an answer. I don't remember which call was that, but she eventually answered. "Pababa na ako," she said. It was twenty past seven.

I told her to meet me at the street corner near our office. I actually thought she got confused, which is why I had to call repeatedly. There was a 7-Eleven behind her building. That's one possibility. She might be waiting at the 7-Eleven where I came from. That's another. I just didn't want to be late, especially since Jackie sent me a text message an hour earlier, asking me where I am.

I've always made it a habit never to be late for anything. I guess it comes with me living relatively far away. A job interview at eleven in the morning? I'll leave home at eight, arrive before ten, and despiar about what to do with all the time. Lately I've given myself some leeway (bah, I'm late for work by a minute, so?) but old habits die hard. And, waiting for Clarence, I was getting a little too jumpy.

She finally arrived, two minutes before the reservation. There wasn't really any need to rush, I know.

She explained that the client suddenly set up an emergency screening of sorts, that they wanted changes to the graphics, presumably changes on a whim, which meant they took forever to render, and the editors are frazzles, and they all start talking rubbish to each other. Today, there was absolutely nothing.

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