Sunday, November 16, 2008

Time is of the Essence

People's being busy with all the must-have match points when redding a shidduch, like are their tablecloth preferences in sync, means that they overlook one very key point that can make or break many a marriage and cause untold agony. This point is time, and the two people's attitudes towards it.

There are people who are punctlich; they are punctual, organized, and when they tell you they will be someplace at 7:00 they are there ten minutes early so as not to be late. These tend to be people who not only own watches and clocks but also use them. They have an affinity for calendars and make notes of when they need to be certain places and at what times in the calendar boxes. These are the same people who send back invitation response cards the day they get them. These are the people who make organized lists and methodically work their way through all the listed items until everything is completed. Items that are needed for an occasion, such as yom tov, are carefully purchased well in advance.

Then there are the other people. There is a Yiddish saying that describes these people to a tee: "Kim ich nisht un hant, kim ich un morgen"--If I don't arrive today I'll arrive tomorrow. These people also own watches and clocks but there seems to be a disconnect between the numbers they see on the watches and the requirement to move their bodies to another location. They also own calendars, when they can find them, and either forget to mark something on those calendars or cannot read the hieroglyphics they did scribble in the date box. Some of these people also make lists, although they usually get written on whatever is handy, such as used napkins and the backs of envelopes lying on the table. Their lists have a tendency to migrate to points unknown. To give them some due, these people are interested in lots of things, perhaps everything, which can sometimes, many times, result in their going from Brooklyn to Queens via Tulsa, Oklahoma with a small layover in Thailand.

Were it only time at issue there would still be a lot of friction that can arise when a punctlich person marries someone who so is not. But there is another dimension to the time issue and that is money. Most of those who are punctlich are also excellent budgeters and financial planners. They see a definite relationship between time and money: waste one and you could well be wasting the other. Because they plan ahead when they need to arrive somewhere time wise, they also see the merit in planning ahead for when they need to "arrive" somewhere financially. Their counterparts are not awfully good at budgeting, time or money. They know there is a future coming but they frequently feel they can worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes. They don't always see a connection between what they do today and what will happen tomorrow.

I was raised by two punctlich parents, as was my husband. We both of us carried forward this trait with us into our marriage. I am convinced that is one major reason for why the two of us, very different in some other ways, have managed to have a successful marriage for all these years. But in our extended families we have some prime examples of non-punctlich siblings, cousins, and yes, friends. And I'll tell you now, they drive my hubby and me crazy. Because we love them, and because we are not married to them, we manage to get along fine, even when they frustrate us beyond belief. Fortunately for the marriages of these people, they are mostly married to other people just like them. In only a few cases did a punctlich person marry someone who is not, and there are occasionally some real exciting fireworks when their attitudes clash.

So yes, I'm suggesting we add something else to that already overburdened shidduch resume. In fact, it could replace most of what is on that resume. What is a person's attitude towards time? Are they punctlich or not?


Anonymous said...

It sounds funnier when written down then it plays out in real life. We have to take turns getting my sister and bil to family smachot on time and we've run out of tricks and lies to get them out of the house. We've told our parents that we aren't going to do this any more. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Whatever you do don't go into a joint business with a sibling unless you both look at time the same way. I learned that the hard way. It almost tore our family apart. My brother thinks I'm too uptight and need to loosen up. I think he's too irresponsible and needs to grow up. It didn't make for a good business relationship. My parents, who are more like my brother, still can't understand why I couldn't work with my brother together. It's much safer not to be in business together.

Jack Steiner said...

Ah, the joy of people, we are all different.

I smiled reading this because I fall into both groups. For the most part I am relatively punctual, but I have my moments where I just get stuck.

I have a dysfunctional digestive system and sometimes it just makes it impossible for me to move as quickly as I would like.

Typically if I am late it is because I had an issue. In my younger years I was very embarrassed by it and almost never mentioned it.

Now I feel less of a problem sharing it, but there are still moments where I am too uncomfortable to say anything.

Anonymous said...

Jack, at least the calls of nature are not something you have complete control over. It's happened to all of us at one time or another. But I'm with the Prof on this one that having to deal with people who have no idea about how time functions is frustrating and can cause all kinds of problems. We, Yekis by birth and by temperament, had to make a chasoneh with mechutanim who can't see what the big deal is about working on a time schedule. Our son in law is not like his parents or he would not have fit our daughter. But at their engagement we and the choson and kallah were there before the time called for guests to arrive. His parents arrived 45 minutes late for their own son's engagement. And they were late for every aspect of making and having the wedding. Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe having to deal with these people.

Bas~Melech said...

On time? I would be happy if he just appears before my 25th birthday...


Anonymous said...

Jack - I fully understand what you are going through. I make a point to be on time, if not early, for everything. Yet, having colitis has prevented me a few times from being on time, and I just have to deal with it, and show up when I can.

Anonymous said...

Thought you'd appreciate this given the topic of the posting. We got back a response card for my son's bar mitzvah yesterday. It was postmarked 4 days ago. The Bar Mitzvah was last month. I guess these people thought that better late then never was okay.

Ahuva said...

Cute post, but I don't know that being punctual necessarily has any connection to fiscal responsibility. I am always late and frequently disorganized. It is not unusual for me, while cleaning, to turn up a grocery list I mislaid weeks ago. However, I also always max out my 401K, pay my bills on time, set a budget and stay within it.

It depends on where your priorities are. I care about arriving somewhere financially. But I don't particularly enjoy living according to a clock, so I'm frequently late. I also don't care if I lose my grocery list; I can always write another!