Friday, May 21, 2010

Wisconsin 101: This is Wisconsin, people here get up early

If being late is a sin,* which indeed it is for the Germans and Scandinavians whose descendants populate this state, then being early must be a virtue. Who knows how many souls you get out of Purgatory with your premature arrival? Dozens, perhaps. Arriving on time is expected; pressing that doorbell ten minutes early bumps your cousin from Purgatory to Heaven. And half an hour early? Well. Let me build my riches in heaven, I tell you.

I like this idea of being on time. These are My People. The Tribe of We Who Do Not Waste and Who Are Punctual and Respectful of the Time of Others Even if They Do Not Deserve It.

Wisconsin summer photo.

I am not, however, so crazy about this half an hour early part.

SH and I hired a handyman, who had helped us move from SH's apartment to the house and had arrived an hour earlier than I had asked, after we moved into the house. I cautioned him not to show up early. "8:30," I told him. "Not ONE MINUTE EARLIER. I mean it."

At 8:20, he rang the doorbell. Bless his heart, he just couldn't help it. SH was not happy.

We had an estimator come two weeks ago to tell us how much it is going to cost to mudjack our garage and replace the poorly-done driveway that is broken and casts out chunks of concrete every time I shovel. (More than I paid for my graduate education at a top-20 school, but it was in-state tuition.)

Half an hour early.

At the time, SH and I thought we were reaping what we had sowed, what with trying a little afternoon delight. Who tempts fate like that? For dumb.

But the estimator from the other mudjacking place who came today also arrived half an hour early. I wasn't even at home. SH was on a conference call.

SH told the guy to wait, then called me at the coffee shop where I was enjoying a good gossip with my friend Sue. I had to leave our discussion of who should pay for what in a wedding** to let the guy into the garage.

Some of you are saying, "What are you whining about? At least your workmen show up" and indeed you are correct to note that I am complaining about the good problem, like that woman who sighs that no matter how much she eats, she just can't seem to put on any weight.***

People here have Things to Do, I suppose. They want to get on with it. As the crazy laundry people upstairs from SH's old apartment snapped at him when he asked why they had to start their laundry every single day at 8:00 a.m., waking him in the process, "This is Wisconsin. This is not New York City.**** People here get up early."

* Which makes my church's late starts even more puzzling. Mass starts seven to ten to 12 minutes late or maybe on time if it's that substitute priest, so I never know. I don't want to be ten minutes early, even though my friend Mary Jo has been trying to adjust my attitude and I wish I were more like her. I want to arrive after the opening song (Marty Haugen drivel) and after the mandatory handshaking and introductions of the people next to me. Really, if I wanted to touch people in church, I would be charismatic or a snake handler or whoever it is that hugs and holds hands. We are German Catholics. We are cold people, darnit. Stop the hand holding.

** As in, if you are the parents not paying, don't complain that there isn't an open bar. Your friends can go four hours without a scotch.

*** Do you want to punch people like that? I do.

**** Three years later and we still haven't figured out the New York reference. Do they think it's quiet all morning in New York? That New Yorkers sleep until noon?


Heather Griffith Brewer said...

In my opinion, being really early is as rude as showing up late.
Either way you are being inconsiderate towards peoples time.
I hate being late, which is why you'll find me sitting outside in my car 10-15 minutes before something is scheduled to start.

Class factotum said...

Heather, a few years ago I organized a party to send off the new Rice freshmen from Memphis. One family showed up an hour early. An HOUR. Rather than go to a coffee shop and wait, they came to the house, where my friend and I were trying to get ready. They didn't ask how they could help; instead, they demanded attention.

Fine. One time. You don't know how long it takes to get from Jonesboro to Memphis, 50 miles away? It's not that hard to calculate, dad who was a math teacher.

But to show up an hour early again the next year? That was downright rude.

Heather Griffith Brewer said...

An hour, no matter where you are coming from is INSANE...and to demand attention on top of that is ridiculous. I've shown up early for things in order to help, but I've always made sure that it was alright ahead of time.
Why is it we feel obligated to be polite to people when they are so obviously rude?