There is always a certain level of guilt when the Amazon package arrives, as they did almost daily, since I mostly avoided stores during the pandemic. My guilt arises at the sight of the face of the driver rushing to leave the package, leaping back on the truck, knowing he is graded on the speed at which he completes the far too long run, relieving himself in a bottle. I wouldn’t take his job for any pay, but I will expect to see him tomorrow when the item I could have lived without arrives only a day late, to my frustration.
As a child, I could never understand why, when I knew that it ws time to go, my parents were never ready, always needed one or two more things; and why en route, we were never quite there even though I had waited the ten minutes more they said it would take.
But I had nothing on my beloved dog Mindy, who would stand by the back door, leash in moth and growl, wondering, no doubt why I always need more time, it wasn’t, she was certain, because shoes were necessary, or a rain jacket, she got by just fine without them, and why my last bathroom stop had to take precedence over hers would always be beyond comprehension.
It was approaching the end
of another too long semester
and the sign-up sheet for office hours
was getting fuller with names
I didn’t recognize, or did and not
in a way that would please the student.
It was always like this, the two weeks
after it was too late to do anything,
when the pleading would begin.
I remember being in that position
almost fifty years ago, making my
supplication for relief of some kind
to a professor I had ignored all term,
and he, genial and gentle, taking out
pictures of the rice paddies
and saying to me, you stand
a far better chance in the Air Force.
There are no wars now that I can offer,
and so I tell them the bad news,
but add that Starbucks can
be a career of sorts, with benefits.
“We created time,” he said, “so we are free to ignore it whenever we wish, don’t tell me that I am late, for that is only by your clock and you should know that most clocks are never right. It is only the stopped clock that is right, and that only twice each day.” We nervously stared at our watches, finally saying, “so sorry but we are late for something critical, and will see you tomorrow, same time, same place.”