Do teachers get detention for being late too? I hope not…

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I have a problem with chronic lateness. I know that the psychological explanation for this is that I value my time more than the time of others and therefore am just a horribly rude individual who has no regard for anyone else.

In other words, psychology just called me a giant jerk.

Which might be the direct result of me skipping all of my psychology classes in college, then acing the tests. Well played, psychology, well played.

 But in reality, the answer is far more complicated.

Actually, it’s pretty simple. The universe hates me and conspires against me to make me late, no matter what I do.

Case in point: my resource teacher sent out a very tactfully worded email just before spring break warning the English department that if we were going to be out of the building for more than 15 minutes, we needed to take leave. Which included leaving early if we were off seventh period (guilty last year… unfortunately, I teach seventh period this year, so no more sneaking out at 2:09 to beat the onslaught of student-driver traffic) or arriving after 7:25, even if we are off first period.

Which, I’m pretty sure was aimed DIRECTLY at me as I have had to slink past my administrators in the front hallway more times than I can count at approximately 7:27. They’re very nice about it and usually just laugh at me, while I hang my head in self-inflicted Jewish guilt and shame while whispering vows to arrive on time the following day.

Or at least sneak in another door of the building.

But after that email went out, I knew I could NOT be late anymore. My leave days are FAR too valuable to be wasted on my chronic lateness. Well, okay, OFFICIALLY, they’re not right now because there are no US Bruce tour dates on the horizon. But those days carry over to future years. So I still plan to hoard them like my mom is hoarding baby clothes in the desperate hopes that I will soon become impregnated by my perfect (aka Jewish) boyfriend. So being late is NOT an option! (You hear that mom? I meant that as a double entendre! It’s not happening any time soon, so there’s NO reason for them to know you by name at Buy Buy Baby! I’m on to you woman!)

So for the first day back from break, I had a foolproof plan: I set my alarm for 20 minutes earlier than I would normally wake up, knowing that I would need those full 20 minutes to arrive at school two minutes earlier than usual. Why? Because arriving at 7:27, the parking lot is as empty as the shelves of a DC area grocery store when a single flurry is in the weather forecast. Any time between 7:03 and 7:25, however, it’s like the world’s worst game of Mario Kart as every horrible teenage driver and angry, late-for-work parent drives the wrong way down one-way lanes to get the kids in the building on time.

 So using math (for the first time since high school calculus—don’t let your math teachers lie to you kids, you’ll NEVER need math in real life!), I calculated that it would take me ten times as long to make it through the parking lot, ipso facto, waking up 20 minutes earlier was a definite way to arrive at school on time.

Except that math failed me when I accidentally set my alarm for PM instead of AM and woke up at 7:02. EPIC FAIL.

But I’m a survivor! I picked myself up from that catastrophe (and may have texted my work BFF, who came and snuck me in a side door. LOVE YOU!!!!!), and tried again yesterday.

And I did it! I woke up at 4:40 (because I’m a psycho exercise addict and was more willing to wake up twenty minutes earlier than cut my 5am workout short), did my whole 5am (sorry, 4:40am) workout, got showered, dressed, prettily made up, and hustled my cute little teacher butt out the door BEFORE 7am! It was wonderful! A miracle! It was like the heavens parted and Leonardo DiCaprio himself descended on a cloud with a choir of angels to praise my ability to leave the house early enough to get to work on time! Hallelujah and praise Leo!

I stuck to the plan exactly and drove like a demon, just like I always do when I’m running late for work, and I arrived within a quarter mile of the school with twenty minutes to spare!

Where I then sat, for the next twenty minutes, waiting in the turn late to get into the school because two teenage drivers got into an accident and were out of their cars screaming at each other, taking cell phone pictures of the damage, threatening to sue each other, then stopping for a leisurely breakfast of bagels and smear on the side of the road, while blocking every lane of traffic.

I finally got around all of that (they could have at least offered me a bagel!), pulled into the parking lot, ran (no easy feat in high heels, let me tell you! But I was dedicated! I would get there on time, even if it meant a broken ankle!) to the school, composed myself, and walked in the front door.

At 7:27.

Because I forgot that it doesn’t matter what time I leave my house. I could leave at 6:03 or 7:23 and somehow, through some vortex in the space-time continuum that I do not, cannot understand, still arrive at school at 7:27 each and every day.

So maybe it’s a good thing that there are no impending Springsteen tour dates. Because it looks like I’ll need a little time to save up some more leave before he plays any more US shows. And if anyone wants to prop a door open for me and save me the humiliation of trying to come up with a valid reason other than that I’m chromosomally incapable of arriving places on time, I’d appreciate it.

I’m late, I’m late for a very important… well… everything!

There are a lot of really great things that I inherited from my dad. My awesome sense of direction, almost perfect eyesight, and really long legs, to name a few.

Unfortunately, his ability to arrive places on time is NOT a trait that he passed on to me. My habitual lateness comes from my mother.

Using logic (also inherited from my father, the physicist), my dad is on time for everything he does and my mom is ten minutes late for everything she does, so logically I should be five minutes late for everything I do.

But I’m not.

I’m a solid 15 minutes late. For everything. Every day. All the time.

It’s not even that I’m chronically RUNNING late. I’m completely and utterly chronically incapable of arriving anywhere on time (unless Bruce Springsteen is scheduled to be somewhere, in which case I will be there several hours early. But I’ll still get there 15 minutes later than I planned to be there).

I almost never TRY to be late for anything. And it’s not that I’m insensitive to wasting other people’s time. I hate it when people keep me waiting, and I hate knowing that I’m keeping other people waiting. So when I’m late, I’m ALWAYS upset about it and exceptionally apologetic. But somehow I still can’t manage to get anywhere on time.

My new year’s resolution most years is to try to stop being late (except for the year when I resolved to stop making faces when I see really ugly people. I never had a chance of keeping that one). And in trying to solve this problem, I realized that there are two inevitable facts of my life that prevent me from arriving anywhere on time.

Inevitable fact number 1: I have no concept of how long it takes me to do anything. When I have to get up in the morning, I carefully calculate exactly how long every step of my morning routine will take me, then factor that time in, plus a little extra cushion time.

But nothing ever takes the amount of time that I think it will. And then I’m late. And there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it. Because of the second inevitable fact.

Inevitable fact number 2: if I leave early for something, the universe will conspire against me to make me late.

This happened to me last week. I had forgotten to do my Xeroxing for first period the day before, and therefore got up early to get to school early. And, miracle of miracles, I got out of the house early! I was so proud of myself when I got down to my car and realized that I had plenty of time to get there and copy the rubric for the assignment I was giving.

But no.

It didn’t go down that way.

Instead, as I drove the one mile to the highway, I got stuck in a never-ending line of traffic, which I eventually realized was caused by a flashing yellow traffic light. Now it’s been a few years since I took my driver’s test, but I’m pretty sure that flashing yellow means proceed with caution, NOT treat the intersection as a four-way stop. But somehow EVERY single other driver on the road that day missed that memo, so a part of the drive that normally takes me two minutes took me twenty instead.

I’m amazed my head didn’t explode.

Eventually I got to 270, figuring that I would be able to make up some of the time I had lost.

I accelerated toward the speed limit and glanced in my rearview mirror, only to see a state trooper behind me. Close enough behind me, in fact, that I could see his eye color and the little spot that he had missed when he shaved that morning. And despite every other driver zipping past me and probably arriving at work on time, my buddy the state trooper stayed about a centimeter from my bumper the ENTIRE eleven miles on 270.

And when I finally got off 270, I missed every single light. Some of them multiple times.

By the time I ran into the school, it was about thirty seconds before the bell rang to start first period, meaning that by leaving early for work, I got there WAY LATER than I ever have when I’ve left the house late in the morning.

And as if I wasn’t stressed out enough by the ride to work from hell, my principal was standing in the hallway right outside my classroom when I got there.

The moral of this story is that I can’t win. I will be late for everything no matter what I do to avoid it. So I may as well get those extra ten minutes of sleep in the morning. And if you need me to get somewhere at a certain time, tell me I need to be there fifteen minutes earlier than you actually need me to be there.

Just don’t tell me that you’re doing that. Because then I’ll be even later. It’s just the way my world works.

Say goodbye to Delaware when I rule the world!

When I rule the world, there are going to be a lot of changes.

First of all, driving tests are going to be MUCH more difficult to pass. Those idiots out on the road will be taking the bus when I’m in charge.

It will be legal, and in fact, encouraged to hit bicyclists who are stupid enough to ride AGAINST traffic. We don’t want that kind of idiocy in our gene pool in the future.

Dan Snyder will be exiled. From the planet.

And Delaware will no longer be allowed to be a state.

Why the Delaware hate, you may ask? I mean, it DOES have no sales tax, which an inveterate shopper like me appreciates. But it has NO other redeeming qualities. None. I don’t care that it was one of the original 13 states. It has to go. (No offense Joe Biden. I like you and all. But your state sucks.)

My main problem with Delaware comes from the stretch of I95 that you are forced to pass through on your way to Pennsylvania or New Jersey from the DC area. That is the single worst stretch of road in the entire country. I would rather drive through Anacostia with a Confederate flag on my car than drive through Delaware. (Not that I’d ever do that—not because I’m afraid, but because it’s just wrong. People with those flags on their cars aren’t going to last long when I’m running the show either.)

Delaware problem #1: the speed limit drops in Delaware.

You’re cruising along in Maryland, going a reasonable highway speed of 65 miles per hour, when BAM! You’re in Delaware, the speed limit is 55, and there’s a cop there to issue you a ticket the second you cross the state line going 55.00001 miles per hour.

 That’s why they have no sales tax; they make all the money they need from those tickets! And there’s no REASON for the speed limit to drop because of problem #2.

Problem #2: There’s ALWAYS traffic in Delaware.

The second you cross the state line, you’re immediately brought to a stop, which lasts for about six hours (time is approximate based on how long it feels like when you’re sitting in Delaware traffic—it’s longer than a Springsteen show!). When traffic eventually begins to move, it’s so slow that snails appear to be zooming by you. This is the result of problems #3 and #4.

Problem #3: You have to pay two freaking tolls if you’re going to Jersey.

You have to pay to get into the state, and you have to pay to leave the state. WTF man? Those two tolls are like less than ten miles apart! I mean, I’d gladly pay to get OUT of Delaware, but to get into it too? That’s the biggest ripoff since Linkin Park put out that damn “Reanimation” cd, which was the SAME EXACT THING as Hybrid Theory, thereby forcing fans to pay for it twice. I didn’t stay a fan after that. And Delaware is the same way. Fine, you want to make more money off of me? Charge me more at the toll booth at the state line, but don’t make me stop for TWO toll booths! Uncool Delaware, uncool.

And finally, Problem #4: There is ALWAYS roadwork.

Really? Do you REALLY need that much roadwork? Really? The highway just isn’t that long in Delaware. How is there ALWAYS construction? But here’s the fishy part: I’ve driven that stretch of road hundreds of times, and I’ve NEVER seen a single person working on it. Ever. What are all those toll and ticket dollars going toward if there’s no one working on the road? Am I just paying for the equipment to block off a lane of traffic in each direction without anything happening? Because that just makes me hate you more as a state.

I’m fair, so I’ll give Delaware a chance to shape up before I completely destroy the state. They’ll have 30 days from the time I take over the world to raise the speed limit, make the cops stop being such jerks about being an infinitesimal amount over the speed limit, get rid of the extra toll booth, and finish all the construction. If they can do all of these things within the set amount of time, I will consider letting them stay in the Union.

But don’t hold your breath on any of that happening.

Luckily, I have a solution all planned out for when Delaware is abolished. First, we will split the land between Maryland and Pennsylvania. The University of Delaware will be incorporated into the University of Maryland system (because it’s a mile from the Maryland border now, it’s practically in Maryland as it is). Maryland will get the beaches, and the area south of the rest stop, Pennsylvania can have everything else. That way we keep a little bit of a buffer between Maryland and New Jersey, because (and I hate to admit this, because I DO love New Jersey) Jersey sometimes smells bad. Pennsylvania already touches Jersey, so they’re used to it. Maryland doesn’t and isn’t.

 Next, we’ll take Delaware’s votes in Congress and give them to DC. That way DC can stop whining about taxation without representation. And Delaware is small, so the votes will approximately even out (and any votes that don’t even out can go with their corresponding territory into Maryland or Pennsylvania. That way everyone still has a voice in the government.)

See? I’m a fair Empress of the Whole World.

Everybody wins.

And if anyone doesn’t like it, tough. After all, I’m the one ruling the world. If you rule the world, you can decide which states stay and which states go. But you won’t be ruling the world. Because I will.

Although I DO have to say, the new Delaware rest stop is pretty freaking nice. Except that it’s in Delaware. So I’m going to claim that for Maryland when I divide up the state.

The only thing worse than the Metro? Driving in DC

I am one of those rare, strange people who enjoys driving in New York City.

There’s an easy explanation for this: I learned to drive in the DC area.

No one is ever going to dispute that New York City drivers are crazy. They are. But they’re the GOOD kind of crazy. They’ll scream at you and give you the finger and zigzag around you in traffic. But they can do all that without ACTUALLY endangering your life. That’s why I say they’re good drivers. They have to be good to drive in NYC without dying. I can identify with that kind of driving. I respect that kind of driving.

But DC drivers are the worst of the worst. Marylanders will argue with you that Virginia drivers are the worst, and Virginians will say Maryland drivers are the worst. But it doesn’t matter where you hail from. If you’re driving in DC, I probably hate you.

 I’m a native Washingtonian, and I love my home city. But as far as traffic goes, it is the worst city in the world. Part of the problem is the city itself. I know it was laid out deliberately to be confusing to anyone who attacked, but honestly, no one who attacks is going to do it by land anymore. It’s as out of date as a walkman.

I still don’t understand why there’s no J Street in DC. Like there’s all kinds of theories about it. But none of them make any sense. Why would you use letters for streets and then leave one out? I mean, I get it if they did it to screw with peoples’ heads. I would be impressed if that was the case. But it’s not. It’s random.

Then there are the traffic circles. I have no problem with traffic circles in general. I understand how they work (if not the need for them), and don’t have a problem navigating them. But 99.999 percent of the population lacks the ability to handle them. Putting the average person in a traffic circle is like putting metal in the microwave; it causes a serious problem and it stinks. And something (in this case, my head) might explode as a result.

Traffic circles DO, however, have one perk. Say someone you hate is crossing through the circle. If you don’t manage to hit them when you try the first time, you can drive around the traffic circle a couple of times to wait for them, and get them when they cross the other side of the circle.*

(*Note: I am not responsible for any legal repercussions if you do this. I’m only telling you for entertainment purposes. Or in case Dan Snyder is crossing Dupont Circle. No Redskins fan jury will
find you guilty. Go for it. You may even get a medal.)

 I have seen more stupidity from people driving in DC, however, than in any other area of my life. And I’m a teacher. There literally used to be a sign on Constitution Avenue that said “Red means stop.” Really? Are there REALLY people driving who don’t know that? Don’t you think there’s a bigger problem if you need a sign like that?

The DC government knows that its drivers suck. That’s why they have a law against talking on a cellphone without some kind of hands-free device while driving.

 In theory, this law is great and could save lives. In theory.

But this law has a side effect (one that even I have been guilty of). You’re driving in DC and your phone rings. You’re not sure where you’re going (and your navigation system is useless in DC because sometimes there are two streets with the same name, but one is in NW and one is in SW and there’s no distinguishing between the two on your nav system—been there, done that, felt like an idiot), and you need to talk to the person calling you so that you can find out where to go.

But you can’t find your headset.


This leads to the frantic scramble to find it before the phone stops ringing. During this panicked digging through your purse/center console/backseat/glove compartment, you wind up paying less attention to the road than you would be if you were texting while driving.

In desperation, you look around for somewhere to pull over so that you can call your friend back.

HAHAHAHA that doesn’t exist in DC! What are you? A tourist?

Then, you finally decide that you HAVE to break the law so that you don’t spend the rest of your life driving around the city aimlessly looking for streets that don’t exist. So you answer your phone, but you have to keep your head low, to avoid getting a ticket if a cop sees you. And at this point, if you’re still alive and haven’t crashed your car, you’re probably going to get pulled over anyway for weaving all over the place like you were drunk.

Again, in theory, it’s a great law.

But it doesn’t help with the idiots who think they’re still on the Metro and are reading the newspaper while driving! (I’ve seen it! I mean, who still reads a real paper newspaper these days, let alone WHILE DRIVING? And they’re worried about people talking on their phones?)

Then again, maybe the bad driving and the horrible street layout is part of a plan to make DC more green. I know that I’m more likely to take the Metro than drive there, because I fear for my life every time I cross the border from Maryland into DC. But then again, if that was true, wouldn’t Metro service be better to encourage people to take it?

Like the mystery of J street, I guess there are just some questions without answers.