by STEVEN BOWEN
If you’re my student, you know this about me: I am ALWAYS five minutes early. At least, I try to be. This habit perplexes some of my colleagues and probably some of my clients as well, so I thought I’d explain just why I do it.
All the reasons for my hyperpunctuality can be summarized like this: I want to be in control. Aiming to be five minutes early, I’m prepared if there’s construction or an accident on the highway. I can be detoured and still make it to the lesson on time.
Usually, however, there isn’t an accident and I really do wind up at my student’s house five minutes early. This is my favorite situation. Let’s say that my student has an hour-long lesson. After an hour has elapsed, I can choose to continue for another five minutes if my student needs extra help. You may balk at the idea of five extra minutes leading to any meaningful progress, but I swear it’s time well spent. Sometimes, a kid just needs something explained one more time. Or maybe they want to work through just a few more theory problems. Five minutes is all we need.
Alternatively, I can take those five “free” minutes and spend them with the parents, giving input and getting feedback. The rearing and education of a human require a team effort — specifically family + teachers. I like to talk with the parents in order to answer their questions, get info about practice habits, make suggestions, and so forth. Again, just five minutes of facetime with mom and dad is usually enough for this.
So why just five minutes? Why not ten? Or more? If I had my way, I honestly might show up fifteen minutes early to a lesson. However, parents are often busy, highly scheduled people. Arriving five minutes early or late makes no real difference to a family’s schedule, but fifteen minutes certainly can. I’m happy to be a lovable gadfly, but I don’t want to make myself a nuisance.
Beyond these very convincing reasons, I have to confess that I was simply raised to be on time. My parents taught me that being late is disrespectful, and I guess I carried that idea into adulthood with me. Way to go, Mom and Dad!
How about you? Are you chronically early like me? Is time more flexible, in your view?