The car in front wasn’t moving.
“How long is ‘ish’”, wondered Bob. Looking at his phone the time was 2:45pm. Annabel had said “3ish.” Does ish apply to before the 3 or only after? If it applies to before, was he already late? Bob dismissed that thought. People don’t say ish if they expect you to be early.
Does it have degrees? Is there an on-time, fashionably late and a late to ish? If on-time is 15 minutes, he still had 30 minutes, if it’s 20 he had 35 minutes. If it has a 30-minute window that gave him 45 minutes to get there.
Could he argue the limit of “ish”? Could he comfortably say 3:30pm met the “ish” deadline? That is if he got there in 45 minutes. Maybe he could push it later. If he got there during the 3 o’clock hour he might be within the boundaries of “ish”. That gave him until 3:59pm.
Bob rethought the last idea. 3:59pm seemed beyond ish. He felt 3:30pm was more reasonable.
The car still wasn’t moving.
Bob cursed his phone. Bob remembered the days when people only had watches. Ish was so much simpler then. Watches stopped; watches were slow. Before cellphones you could say “I had no idea about the traffic;” “I made a wrong turn;” or “I couldn’t find a phone.” Now phones are in our pockets, they keep exact time and direct us through traffic.
Bob looked at his phone. The time of arrival had moved from 3:15 to 3:20. Should he text her? Would that make him look overeager? If she said “ish” perhaps it was better to wait until 3pm or even 3:15. What if she texted him first? Would it be “where are u?” or “where ARE u?” or “WHERE ARE U” What if she sent an emoji? What if it was an emoji he didn’t understand?
Bob noticed a woman walk past the car. What if he got out of the Uber now and walked the rest of the way? According to the phone he could get there in 38 minutes, just within “ish”. Going by car it showed arrival at 3:25pm. The car still had a five-minute advantage. Also how fast would he have to walk to get there in 38 minutes? If he didn’t walk at the right pace, he could be late, and potentially sweaty and out of breath. It’s best to stay with the original plan.
The car was moving. Bob felt a sense of relief. He had made the right decision not to walk. Phone estimated arrival at 3:23pm well within the ‘ish’ range.
The phone showed an even better time, 3:21pm. Bob thought if it changes to a later time he will text. Bob relaxed. He was going to make 3ish.
Bob felt a wave of relief. He was right on time. He had the picture of Annabel on his phone. Bob took a quick look at the picture before entering Starbucks.
Bob didn’t see her. There were no tables with just one person seated. No one even close to her description was anywhere in the store. He had arrived first. Bob hadn’t expected that. With all his questions about ish maybe she had a longer interpretation than he thought?
Did she pick Starbucks because it was convenient to the show or because she wanted to get a coffee first? Was her plan to get coffee to carry while walking to the show or did she have an idea they would have a coffee and then go? Should he order or wait for her to arrive? If he didn’t order, would it seem weird that he was just hanging around Starbucks? Should he wait inside or outside? Bob pretended to shop for a coffee mug while he thought about his options.
Bob checked his phone. There was no text from Annabel. Should he text her? What should he text? Should he text an emoji? If so, which one?
Bob noticed the cashier looking at him. He was sure she was watching. He was sure she knew he was not there to buy a coffee mug. He was sure she knew that he knew that she knew he wasn’t there to buy a coffee mug.
Bob ordered an Americano.
Bob usually didn’t drink coffee inside Starbucks. He felt silly sitting at a table by himself, staring at the door. Randomly looking around Starbucks made him feel sillier. He checked his phone. There was no text from Annabel.
“Apparently some people have a broad definition of ‘ish;” thought Bob. He was starting to get irritated. He had gotten there on time. He began to think Annabel was quite rude for letting him wait without sending a text. He would give her until 3:59pm and if she didn’t show up, he would leave.
Bob requested an Uber.
Bob was angry. He thought about the cost of the Uber ride, both ways, with tip. He added the cost of the Americano. He never drank coffee in the afternoon. Caffeine made him anxious and affected his sleep. Bob swore he would never go to Starbucks in the afternoon again no matter who asked him. Next time he would pick the place and the time. Next time the time would be specific.
Did he go to the wrong Starbucks? Bob began to regret not texting. Perhaps he should text now? What would he text? How would he explain the mistake? How would he explain not knowing he made a mistake until 8:17pm?
No, he had not gone to the wrong Starbucks. She clearly specified that Starbucks on that specific corner. She said it was nearest to the show. Bob waved the thought away.
Maybe Annabel was in an accident. The thought popped into his head from nowhere. That would explain why he didn’t get a text. Bob calculated the odds of Annabel being in an accident. It seemed extremely unlikely but possible.
Bob fell asleep.
Bob poured a cup of coffee. He made a final determination that Annabel was not in an accident. Bob was also absolutely certain he had gone to the right Starbucks. Bob checked his phone and found no message from Annabel. Maybe she thought it was too early to text on a Sunday?
Bob checked his phone and still no message. Bob began composing texts about punctuality in his head.
Bob googled “emoji” and “punctuality.”
Bob’s phone vibrated. “Running late, be there by 3:21.” It had a smiley-face emoji.