Sometimes It's Good To Be Late


It was a cold winter's night when I stopped by a station for gas one evening on my way home from work.  I was tired and had a slight headache.

 

I worked in a busy doctor’s office and it seemed this was one of those days when the unexpected happened, making the schedule run later than usual.  I had just taken some papers by the hospital for one of the doctors before I headed for home after a long, tiring day.

It looked like I was going to be late getting home and my husband, being the punctual person that he is, would be ready to rub it in, pronouncing me late once again.  I had been doing so well as a reformed procrastinator too.  Well, maybe if I hurried, I could still make it home at a decent time.
 
I was heading inside to pay for my gas when I noticed there was an older couple at the counter.  I overheard them asking directions to the local hospital across town.  It was the same hospital that I had just left a few minutes ago. 

The young man at the counter was trying to be helpful in explaining how to get there.  "Just go down and cross the Westover Bridge, take a left at the stop light then follow the road around, just stay on the main one, it curves a lot.  Let's see, you will go through two…no, three stoplights…"

"Billy, there are four stop lights," the other cashier interrupted him as she tried to be helpful.

"Uh, er, yeah you're right," Billy said as he continued, "When you get to the coliseum, you will turn right but it might be too dark out now to see the coliseum.  After you turn, you will go through …let's see…hmmm… three more lights and then you'll go right at the the fourth light and then left at the next light.  What's the name of that road, Anne?"

"I don't remember," she said.

"It's Pineview Drive," I wanted to interrupt and let them know but I decided to just listen in for a moment longer and see how this direction discourse came out. 

Billy went on with his directions, "As soon as you get on the road that I can't remember the name of, watch for the hospital sign it goes to the right but it winds around for awhile until you get there.  There might be a couple of places where the road splits off but just stay on the main one.  You can't miss it.

"Oh yes you can, I thought to myself," as I heard their directions.  How well I remembered moving to West Virginia, where mountains, rivers, and only two bridges into town made finding your way like wondering around in a maze.  I had carried a map with me for weeks, and I still got lost.  If you add to that the ever-present morning and evening fog that was often a problem, finding your way could be a real nightmare.

Two other people who were in line began adding to the conversation as it came my turn in line to pay for my gas. 

 

"You'll see Krogers’ on the right."  I heard one of them say.  

"Yes, you might want to stop there and get enough food to keep you from starving while you hunt for the hospital." I thought to myself.

About this time, another person came inside who seemed to be their driver.  He had evidently been out pumping their gas. The couple began recounting the directions to the driver, with two other people at the counter still making comments about directions.  One of them was even trying to give them a whole different route back to the interstate to get off at a different exit.

It was then that something came over me and I just walked over to the couple and said, "Would you like to follow me to the hospital?"

A look of great relief crossed the woman's face.

"Oh, could we?" she said, "Are you sure it's not too much trouble?"

"Oh, we don't want to put you out." the man said.

"We're from Ohio," the woman said quickly as if she was afraid that I might back out of my offer,  "We just got word that my brother had a heart attack and I don't know how bad it is…and I hope it's not too late…." She stopped short in her explanation as I could tell she was close to tears.

"I'm in the big green van, just follow me."  I said as I began to feel a sense of urgency.

"Are you sure it's not out of your way?" the man interrupted as they followed me into the parking lot.

"Oh, no problem, I’m going right by there," I said, which wasn't a lie since I had just now made up my mind to do exactly that.

I got in my van and began the journey back through the maze of curves, stoplights, and turns.  At the same time, I was trying to watch to be sure they were right behind me.  It took about fifteen minutes to get there as rush hour traffic was beginning to subside.  When I pulled into the hospital parking lot, I rolled down my window and waved good-bye as I motioned toward where they could park their car.

As I drove away, I felt better than I had all day and my headache was nearly gone.

Later, as I arrived home, my husband met me at the door and grinned as he looked at his wristwatch as if to say, “I told you so.”

"So you aren't ever late anymore, huh," he teased.

I smiled and said, "Sometimes it’s good to be late."

 

By

Pamela R. Blaine

Copyright, February, 2003