WPT – White People Time

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The girl was already ten minutes late.  Checking the time on my cell phone yet again, as I’d done about fifteen seconds earlier, I saw that it had just turned 3:11.  Now I wasn’t only irritated that she was late; she had also reminded me of a crappy band.  I walked down to the other end of the subway, thinking maybe I had misunderstood the meeting point.  Nope, no girl.  We had already gone on one date, a few days earlier, and she was late to that too.

“I can’t build a relationship on a foundation of tardiness,” I said to myself, fuming.  “All I want is a girl who is funny, somewhat attractive, and puts value on punctuality.  You know what?  I could even let the ‘funny’ prerequisite slide.  And the attractive bit too.  But punctuality…I’m not willing to drop that.  What time is it again?”

3:15.  I thought about leaving.  Yeah, that’d send the message loud and clear.  No, that would be wrong.  I couldn’t just leave.  That would stick me with a boring and depressing Saturday.  “Relax,” I told myself.  “She’s on KPT.  It’s cultural.”

I should mention something important: I am a madman when it comes to being on time.  I’m never, ever late to anything.  In fact, I’m typically early.  Extremely early.  If my friends put something together, I will be the first person at the meet up point.  Guaranteed.  If there’s a concert, it’ll be me and the venue staff hanging out in the club seconds after the doors open.  I can’t help it.  Being late fills me dread and anxiety; what if my friends leave because I’m not there or if I show up to the concert and it’s already started?  I can’t stand the idea.  In the future, if I ever impregnate some lucky lady, I’ll probably be chilling in the hospital room sometime around the 6 month point.

My future baby mama will eventually show up, sweaty and breathing heavy, and I’ll just look at her, shaking my head and tapping my watch.

Time, people!  I acknowledge that my obsession with being early is ridiculous.  For this particular date, I was a whopping 45 minutes early.  I went and got an egg sandwich and a cup of coffee to kill time.  The worst part was that I knew I had to keep the eggs and coffee secret, because I didn’t want to tell the girl that I showed up 45 frigging minutes early to our date.  That’s not a cool move.  It’s the move of a desperate and anxious man, reminiscent of how Pee Wee wore a condom to his date in Porky’s.

It’s not my fault, though.  My dedication to promptness is part of my racial identity.  See, I was informed of this back when I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina.  I had a friend named Mike who was at least twenty minutes late every time we planned to hang out.  Sometimes he’d be so late I didn’t think he was coming at all.  After the second or third time, I had to say something.

“You’re killing me, man,” I said.  “I’m sitting here alone at the bar like a loser.”

“What time did you get here?”

This CP Time thing is apparently widely known - there's even a book and everything.

“We said 7:00, so I got here at like 6:50.”

“6:50!  What the hell did you get here at 6:50 for?”

“What?  We said 7:00.  I wanted to be a little early.”

“Man,” Mike said, looking at me like I was crazy, “don’t you know about CPT?”

“No,” I said, finishing my beer.  “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Colored People Time,” Mike said.  “Am I the only black friend you have?  If I say 7:00, man, you got to know I won’t really be here at 7:00.  I’m on CPT.  7:00 means I’ll roll up here around 7:15.”

“So you’re saying you’re late because you’re black?”

Mike ordered his beer.  “Or you’re here at 6:50 ‘cause you’re white.”

It seemed like a ridiculous generalization, but could Mike have been onto something?  Could it be that my white heritage was, subconsciously, causing me to be really neurotic about punctuality?  I’ve always tried not to be a typical white person.  In the end, though, I suppose I’m fairly typical.  I see myself portrayed scarily well on the “Stuff White People Like” website, and when I watched The Wire, as much as I wanted to be Stringer Bell, I sadly related more closely to the Pryzbylewski character.

Strangely, after Mike explained CPT to me, I’ve heard other people refer to their racial background to explain being late too.  Sis is late every time we hang out because she’s Filipina and, as she’s informed me, Filipino people are always late.  Multiple Korean people have been late to things and have told me that it’s Korean culture to always run a bit behind.  Special K is white and she’s always late for everything, which leads me to believe that in actuality, all people are typically slightly tardy for things except for me.  Maybe WPT doesn’t stand for White People Time, but actually stands for William’s Punctuality Torment, and refers only to the annoyance I feel when always beating people to bars or to restaurants.

My date finally arrived at 3:18.  She apologized for being late and we went and had a nice time.  I couldn’t hold the tardiness against her.  She’s a cute girl, and I wouldn’t want to run the risk of being culturally insensitive.  The world, I think we all can agree, just doesn’t have time for that.

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37 thoughts on “WPT – White People Time

    • Hey Emma. Thanks for the compliment. : ) I’ve been in Korea for about 1 1/2 years now. I teach English to little Korean kids. Come September, I’ll be leaving and going…well, I don’t know for sure where I’ll be going. It’s a strange and interesting life, though, living overseas and I think everyone should do it once in their lives. Although maybe not to Korea because, you know, everybody’s late all the time.

      • Whoops … then Malaysia wouldn’t be your next destination for sure!

        Over here, we have this thing called “Malaysian Time” and it hacks me off. Seriously! Malaysians tend to be late all the time. I’m Malaysian myself but I tend to be a stickler for punctuality. I don’t know why people have to be late, as if they can’t manage their lives and themselves properly. Oh yes, they always cite traffic as an excuse. Sometimes it’s a valid one, but others, it’s just an excuse.

      • Emma

        Ha! I just think it’s interesting, we are running a bit of a parallel and that is most likely why your blog appeals to me so much! I am living overseas in France right now, not doing anything as noble as teaching. But I am cooking for a family in their Chalet. I agree, everyone should open their eyes to the world unknown. I’ve decided where I am going next, Charlotte NC. I’ve lived there once before. So I found your blog ESPECIALLY parallel. Thanks for replying!

      • I was brought up in a family where people are always late. I’m trying so so soooo hard to break out of it, because the wifey hates impunctuality too. These days, I force myself to turn up to things not just on-time, but early. Just in case!

        Nothing gets you punctual like the fury of an impatient woman.

      • Emma – Why the heck are you going to North Carolina? I want so badly to go to France…when my contract ends, I’m going. I think what you’re doing is so cool.

        Ling – Malaysia is a destination at some point. I will accept the lateness as “local color.”

        Drew – Since women motivate nearly everything I do in one way or another, I can’t agree with you more.

  1. My partner of 5 years is always late – I’ve learnt that “in 2 min” means he’ll be there in 2 min, but “in 20 min” actually means in 40 min, and “in a couple of hours” could mean anything up to half a day. It’s an exponential line, apparently. I live with it. But boy, if I’m ever late, I get a big speech…

    • I couldn’t do it. I remember when the coach of the New York Giants (Coughlin) was fining players for showing up to a 9:00 meeting at 9:00 because, he said, when he says 9:00, he expects his players to be there at 8:50. Pretty much everyone thought he was crazy. I completely supported it 100%.

      • We have a tradition here in South Africa (maybe other parts of the world have it too, I don’t get out much…), where an invitation reads 18h30 for 19h00. That way, one can be late twice in one evening!

  2. In the Caribbean, we have “Island Time”. Even the government adheres to it. If an event is planned to start at 4, you bet your bottom dollar it’ll only commence at six. People will only think about getting ready at 4, never mind actually being there!

  3. judithsmarkworld

    Reblogged this on Judithsmarkworld and commented:
    Being someone who is known to be on CPT I can totally relate to your date. My bf who is white is on WPT. And he is learning to deal my CPT ways. My sis is typically on WPT. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I got yelled at for making her late. In your case since you show up as early as 45 min, you are condemned to always wait for people to come. That must be hard.
    Great post as always!

    • Thanks Judith! I am condemned. Glad to hear you and your boyfriend are doing well. It’s not easy for us white people to wait…he must like you a lot…and why wouldn’t he?? Keep him waiting, just for your ego. : D

      • judithsmarkworld

        LOL! He is very sweet! I gotta say my ego melts at his kindness. But I won’t mind making him wait from time to time…. 😉

  4. Filipino time…… if we want dinner to start at 7 PM, we have to tell our Filipino guests dinner starts at 5 PM. I’m not kidding. When we were there on vacation, we held a family reunion (Lunch at 12 noon ) for all the relatives at our house, POTLUCK. Guests started coming in at 12, up to 2 PM. It was okay. It was an all day party anyways. Still………

    According to my parents, there are 3 kinds of “time ” in the Philippines:
    1. Filipino time
    2. American time
    3. Military time

    • Ren! Your comments have been going into my spam folder for some reason. Are you writing spam now? Anyways, that would drive me crazy. I don’t think I’d be able to adapt. I’d always be nervous and looking out the window to see if people were coming. And I’d probably have eaten everything by the time people showed up. You Filipinos must have great restraint!

  5. “My future baby mama will eventually show up, sweaty and breathing heavy, and I’ll just look at her, shaking my head and tapping my watch.. ”

    Do me a favour hon?

    When this day rolls around can you stream it onto your blog for us please?
    I wanna see her tapping you ..
    *grins*

  6. I remember reading a study about this a while ago… It started from a Professor being irked that his students were late in a South American college, and ended up being an impromptu experiment in buying one stamp at post offices in different cultures.
    Very interesting.
    There are all sorts of variations based off where you are. Hawaiian-time is anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour late (there’s even bumper stickers: “I no stay late – I’m on Hawaiian time, brah”)

  7. Bwhahaha. I am much like you, Sir. I like to be 10 to 15 minutes early for EVERYTHING. Unless there is limited GOOD parking then like an hour. I also tend to apologize for being late when I am in fact on time… Having children has made me a mess because I have to have them start getting ready at least an hour before to get us to leave on time. So, now I am later than I want to be due to herding…

    • Understandable. I’m really bad at trying to figure out how long things will take. I say, “Hmm, I should leave an hour early to get to such-and-such place.” Then I do and I get there in 20 minutes. That’s what happened in regards to that date. Maybe it’s not that I value being early…I just have a really bad concept of when I should leave.

  8. I, too, am always early! I always check traffic or weather, or whatever else might hold me up, and plan and leave accordingly. It is something my Dad instilled in me. Quite honestly, though, I’m am so happy for it, it has been a big difference in getting jobs, etc. It sounds like a lot of people cite it as a “cultural thing” to be late, I think it’s just an excuse, and rude to boot! (Coming from a biased and perpetually early person.)

  9. I have learned to tell people who are perpetually late the wrong time to get them to show up as close to the correct time as possible. I tell the punctual people the correct time because I know they will be early. As you stated in your post, I feel the same, I get anxious about being even one minute late. If something starts at 8 and you get there at 8, you’re already late. I don’t like being late and I don’t like being absent. And I think CPT, MPT, Island Time, etc. are terrible excuses for people. I’ve been late and I hate it every time. Sometimes it can throw me off all day! Haha!

    • I’m with you, I have friends I tell to be there are 7:30 when I really want them to be there at 8! And those same friends who say, “I’m on my way, I’ll be there in 20 minutes!” I know that means it’ll be about 30-40 minutes. Ho hum.

  10. Did anyone else pick up on the 311 and Porky’s references??? Come on, screw the time issue {which, I have a feeling we were siblings separated at birth because our anxiety levels seem to similar}…Nick Hexum!

  11. Is this the girl that calls you Jeff?? Is there going to be a third date?? Do what my husband does to me. Time lie. Tell her 2:45 and she will be there 3ish. Brilliant! You will be there by 2:15 anyway, so even if she is on time, it won’t be an issue.

    I think white people and people immersed in white people culture are usually punctual. Before taking to photography full time, I was the only one in the office who was consistently late for no reason other than I couldn’t get to the office on time.

    It makes perfect sense. I look white but I’m Latina, and I wasn’t even on time for my own wedding. I wasn’t really late though, only about 3 minutes.

  12. Funny stuff. I too am a chronic early-bird and have lied about the start times of events countless times to my always-tardy friends. My rationale is, if they were punctual, I wouldn’t have to lie.

  13. I only show up early when I am meeting a new person or an old one who shows up on time. Meeting the older ones who never are on time get the taste of their own medicine.

    Yes I am cruel ..

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