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The joys of arriving everywhere early

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Have you ever been called "the late Mrs. So and So"?
People who say this are referring not to your demise but to the fact that you are always late.

Many people arrange their lives so that they "just make it" in the nick of time to any and all their engagements; en route to an appointment they squeeze in another item that can be done because it’s in the same general area or they are early for the original appointment.

I have found how much more relaxing it is to be a wee bit early for a class, a doctor’s appointment, a restaurant meeting, a concert, a church service —or anything that will most likely begin at the time originally stated.

It’s good to settle into the topic ideas before your class begins. Sometimes the doctor is ready for you earlier because someone else cancelled and you get out of that office earlier than you expected. You have more time to study the menu if you’re early. You can study the program notes and read the artist’s  life story and be "tuned into" the music. You have time to greet your friends and fellow attendees. It is good to absorb the vibes.

How did I reach this state that was impossible for me long ago? It happened this way:

My husband joined the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as a violin and a viola player. I loved to go to the particular concerts where he was playing. But he always insisted on being there an hour ahead of time. This was just exactly what the other players did. When I realized why they did this, I was in full agreement. Not only did this give everyone a chance to "warm up" on the instruments that they played, it also precluded that no one would ever be late for the "down beat".

This made a lot of sense musically speaking, but also financially speaking. If one of the 70 or 80 players was late a heavy fine was levied. It cost the symphony player not only $60 for every minute he was late — it cost management $60 times 70, because that many people were waiting to begin rehearsing, or playing and every minute was important and everyone had to be present. That was a wasted minute.

So they began on time and ended exactly on time, too. It was a monetary necessity.
For me, arriving early as an audience member posed no hardship, as I could "get into the mood" by reading the concert notes ahead of time before the lights were dimmed, and generally get settled for good music.

This behaviour worked its way into our life, and now we seem always to be early, for diverse reasons like getting a parking space or just being ready mentally for what is coming. Since those early WSO days, I don’t think we have ever been late for anything. Not a bad record, eh?

I have to put my foot down though, when my husband wants to arrive early for a social dinner at a home. I know that some things, like gravy for the potatoes, must wait to be made just in time, and other things that can only be done at the last minute will be interrupted if we burst in even five minutes earlier that the invitation suggested time.

So, just as the fellow in Ecclesiastes, in the Bible, wrote, or the singer in the song said — "to everything there is a time".

Bertha Klassen is a community correspondent for Elmwood.

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