Been There, Done That by Laura Nethken

By Laura Nethken Published:

The Fates must have saved me from some horrible destiny this morning. That's how I like to look at it.

I woke up on time, in fact, with a minute or two to spare, and then it just all went downhill from there. And I do mean a minute or two. I'm the quintessential non-morning person. My Mom and Grandma made me that way, on purpose. My Mom's Dad made her that way by accident.

With his job, he came home late -- sometimes very late (or really early, depending on how you look at it). Being the Daddy's girl that she was, my Mom took it upon herself at the tender age of about 4, to wait up until he got home.

She essentially trained herself to be a night owl. And doing it that young made it a lifelong habit. When she and my Grandma found themselves both divorced and living in an apartment together and with me, they worked out a little system.

Grandma was a morning person. She had no trouble getting up an hour or more early just so she could drive to work and completely miss the rush hour. I'm not thrilled with rush hour either, but I'm not losing my morning zzzzs just to skip it.

Anyway, Grandma worked days and Mom worked nights. That way they could save the money they would have had to spend on a sitter for me. When my Mom got home from work, she needed a couple of hours of sleep before dealing with her toddler.

So Grandma's job was to keep me up as late as humanly possible so I'd sleep late in the morning to give my Mom a little down time.

Training like that, at that young age, gave me training for life. I'm a night person just like my Mom. That made my 12 years of school a bit (or a lot) of a nightmare. And I never learned to grow out of it because on the weekends, I'd drift right back to my old ways.

Mom and I would sit up until the wee hours and sleep 'til noon. Then come Monday morning, I was back in a daytime world. Oh, joy.

When I went to college, I was thrilled to discover I could schedule my classes pretty much whenever I wanted. As in nothing before 10 a.m. at the very earliest. That worked out great throughout my college career. Classes from mid-morning to mid-afternoon, work in the evenings and domestic duties overnight. Well, except for vacuuming. We don't need testy neighbors, now do we?

After graduating, I found myself flung face-first into a daytime world. Like have to be at work at 7 a.m. world. What sort of horror was this? So I learned to do everything I possibly could the night before. My lunch for the next day was packed and ready to go. My clothes were laid out and waiting. My shower was completed and my hair could dry overnight.

If I could have figured a way to do my makeup and hair and get dressed to where everything would still be right in the morning, I'd have done it. Then I could've rolled out of bed, grabbed a cup of Joe and been on my way in a matter of minutes.

Although probably not the best plan since I was driving and I'm not really awake in the mornings. It's probably a good thing that one never worked out.

In the meantime, I learned to calculate exactly how long it takes to get from sound asleep in bed to my desk and set the alarm clock by that equation.

My husband always liked to get up at least an hour before he needed to leave for work. What for? It took him 10 minutes to get dressed, 10 minutes to brush his teeth and shave and 10 minutes to pack his lunch. What was the other half hour for?

That's when he liked to relax in front of the TV with a hot cup of coffee and watch the news before he left. If I sat down and watched TV in the morning, that's exactly where they'd find me two hours later.

Nope. I have to get up and get out of there. And as long as everything goes right, I'll be at my desk right on time. If everything goes right. Unless the Fates step in like this morning.

I got up right on time, but the bathroom was already in use, so I had to wait a minute or two. I was still out the door in pretty decent time. Once on the highway, it looked like smooth sailing. I thought I might even make up that minute or two. Until I got stuck at the first red light. And the second. And didn't get the left-turn arrow at the third and had to wait again at the fourth.

I figured it was hammer down after that since there aren't any more traffic lights until I'm almost there. Then I waited at the stop sign as the two cars passed me and fell in line behind them.

Evidently, the car in front was on unfamiliar turf. The speed limit through there is 45 mph. We were going 30 -- barely. "It's the pedal on the right forgodsake. Try hitting that one once," ran through my mind.

And so we went for the next six miles or so through a no-passing zone, which eventually let us catch right up to the school bus that still had a few stops to make. Perfect.

I could sit back there behind it all spewing expletives in a fit of fury, or figure that the Fates had saved me and quietly give thanks. Had I been on time, I may have found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time with potentially tragic consequences.

As it was, I just needed to somehow convince them at work that my start time really is 10 after.

Copyright 2013 Laura Nethken

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