Being late - A family curse?

Being late - A family curse?


            I come from a long line of people losing their belongings, missing their trains, and locking themselves out of their flats. I come from a long line of people being neither on time nor showing up at the right place. In my family, we know the procedure by heart when losing our credit card, and our banker’s number is in our favorites. Worst of all, we spend the equivalent of a small country's GDP on new cellphones every year. In short, we have this clumsy-forgetful-lateness gene. I wish I inherited tact or rhythm, but sadly it did not happen. As you can understand, my family is tumultuous, which tends to lead to chaotic situations. Let me tell you about that one time it took us a whole day to complete a 30-minute task.

            My dear mom requested my two brothers and I to help her empty her basement. The basement being pretty small, it was a fairly easy task. She told us to meet her at her apartment on a Saturday at 10.30 am. The Saturday morning in question, having been partying lightly the previous night, I arose from my bed massively hungover. I wake up, it’s 11 am: I am already half an hour late. I turn on my phone to send a text in the family group chat, but before I can do so I see that my mom already texted “I’m running late, you guys can just wait for me at the flat if you have the keys”. My older brother Arthur replies, “Perfect, I’m also running late so I’ll be there around 11.15”. I assume that it is now safe to announce my own lateness. So far, no news of my other brother Carlos. I take a shower, jump on the metro, and arrive at my mom’s at 11.30. Arthur and her are already there, 3 out of 4 people present with only an hour of delay isn’t the worst performance we’ve known so far.

            My mom and brother seem to be actively looking for something, and soon enough I learn that my mom doesn’t know where the basement’s key is. We look everywhere: behind the couch, under the furniture, in the sink, under the carpet, but nothing. At some point, Arthur screams victory and shows us a key he found in the washing machine. The joy was short-lived because we quickly realize that it was the mailbox key and not the basement key. A small victory is still a victory after all. Apparently, my mom did not open her mail for 6 months. Once again nothing surprising there.

            It is now 12.30, and we finally get news from my other brother. He texts “Hey, I just woke up. I thought we were meeting tomorrow, not today. I’m leaving now.” I almost feel better than everyone else with my only 1-hour delay. On our side, we keep looking for that damn key. At some point, I ask my mom if it’s possible that she left the key in the lock. Wide eyes, shocking realization: she indeed left the keys in the lock. Even worse: a neighbor found the keys and left a note in the building’s hall with their phone number, so the key owner could contact them. Nevertheless, my mom never felt concerned by that note. After all, it’s not like we are a family that usually loses their belongings. Not at all.

            So here we are: it is 1 pm, three-quarters of our workforce has arrived, and we know what happened to the basement’s key but do not know where the key is exactly. I go into the hall to pick up the number that the neighbor left, but of course, the note has disappeared. Despite that, we are not giving up. We might be astonishingly clumsy and unorganized, but we are not quitters (at least not when it comes to finding a key, or we would be homeless way too often). Suddenly, a genius idea crosses my mind. - Every idea that is not utterly stupid is considered genius for the sake of my ego - If it’s a neighbor that took the key, we just have to knock door to door to find them! My brother takes the third to the fifth floor, and I take the rest. After many unsuccessful attempts, an old lady opens the door and tells me that the woman living next door has the key. Unfortunately, she is currently at the market buying tomatoes but will be back in 20 minutes.

            Meanwhile, my other brother Carlos finally showed up. After a little wait, I finally pick up the key. It is now 2 pm, and we can finally empty my mom’s basement. The plan was to be done by 11 am. As you can see, it’s not easy to live with this clumsy-forgetful-lateness gene, but it’s undoubtedly highly entertaining.

Alice Raffegeau