“Well, better late than never”, he said to himself as he looked at himself in the mirror while he was doing his blue tie. He knew he wasn’t going to make it on time. The party was set to start in fifteen minute’s time, at 20h00 but it would be impossible to get there before then. It would take him at least half an hour to get there.
Steve was always late to any occasion and on this one, he had been invited by his friends to a party where, he was promised, would be many women. The party was in his honor to celebrate his birthday.
Steve was 47 now and still single. But he wasn’t single because he chose to. The women he dated always ended up getting tired of having to wait for him all the time. And for some reason, Steve thought that he wasn’t doing anything wrong. On one occasion, his date waited for him for two hours at the restaurant. By the time he arrived, she had already had dessert, paid the check and was getting ready to leave. Steve just said to her, “Well, better late than never.” and smiled.
As he looked at himself in the mirror, he though that he wasn’t that bad to look at. He wasn’t rude and he wasn’t disrespectful towards women. So why couldn’t he maintain a relationship with someone? The longest one he had had lasted for only two months. “What am I doing wrong? What’s wrong with me?”, he often asked himself.
His friends were always telling him that his problem was that he was always late and that he should never leave anyone waiting for him. Especially when on a date. But Steve wouldn’t make anything out of these remarks and would soon forget them. He didn’t think that that was the problem. Being late was the most natural thing in the world.
“Women are just too picky.”, he would say to his friends. “If anyone wants my company they won’t mind waiting a few minutes.”
His best friend John was the one that was the most honest with him.
“People are starting to get tired of always having to wait for you. Can’t you make an effort to be on time for once?”
“Being on time over rated. I mean, what’s the big deal? Every one gets to be late so why can’t I?”
“It’s alright to be late every now and then but not always. It’s disrespectful towards the ones waiting for you.”
“I don’t see what the fuss is all about.”
As he put on his grey jacket and was getting ready to leave he looked at his watch. It was already 20h15. “Now I just need to call an Uber and I’ll be there in no time”, he thought to himself as he closed his apartment door.
Usually he would have had a few calls already asking how long he would be but not this time. He was actually grateful that no one called. He hated being rushed and asked how long it would take him to arrive. He never knew what to answer as he never had any idea of how long it would take him. He would usually just say “I’ll be there in 5 minutes”. Needless to say, he always overshot his estimate by a lot.
Just finished calling the Uber. He’ll have to wait another ten minutes before it arrives. “It might have been better if I had called the Uber before leaving the apartment”, he thought to himself. “Nevermind. What’s another 10 minutes?”, and stood on the sidewalk as he waited for his ride to arrive.
The ten minutes went by and the Uber was still on it’s way. Just another minute and it would arrive.
Finally the Uber arrived and they set off to the address that his friends had given him. It would still take them 30 minutes to get there. It was 20h26.
It didn’t even occur to him to ask the driver to try to go a bit faster. He just sat there, staring out the window, looking at all the lights. All the traffic and people rushing to get to where they wanted to go. Some were running. Others were hailing cabs, trying to get their attention. Others were just patiently standing at the bus stop, waiting for the buss to arrive, with nothing they could do to speed things up.
It was Steve´s birthday today. He felt special. His friends had said to be there at 20h00 sharp. That he shouldn’t be late in no circumstance whatsoever. He would be at least an hour late. That wasn’t too bad considering all the other times he was usually late. Everyone would already be used to him being late and one hour wasn’t all that much.
It was 20h45 and the car ran into some traffic. The driver said that they would be another 10 minutes, if they were lucky. It was Friday and everyone would usually go out to dinner on a Friday night. That would explain the traffic.
It was 21h15. They arrived at the address that his friends had given him. It was a hotel. He entered the hotel and went to the reception. He asked the receptionist where the party that started at 20hoo was.
“Just go down the corridor to the right until the last door.”
“Thanks”, said Steve and set down the corridor.
While he was walking down the corridor he thought that everything was very quiet, but thought that the sound isolation must be very good.
As he came to the last door of the corridor, he saw a sign reading “Happy Birthday Steve!”
“This is the door”, he thought to himself.
Now he was feeling really special. How lucky was he to have such great friends to plan a birthday party for him in a place like this. Everyone was going to be so happy to see and be with him. “This is all for me”, he thought.
He opened the door and everything was dark and quiet.
He walked in.
No sound except for his footsteps and his breath.
“This a surprise party. They’re pulling a prank on me”, he told himself.
He stood there, in the dark, waiting for something to happen.
“Hello? Anyone there?”, he called. No one answered.
He started feeling uneasy. Scared even. He tried to find the light switch. He couldn’t find it and managed to find the door.
He went back down the corridor towards the reception.
“Hi, I was just at the room for the party of 20h00 was supposed to be but there is no one there and everything is dark”, he said to the receptionist.
The receptionist looked at the screen, checking the information.
“The information I have here is that everyone is running late and they asked if you could wait until they arrive.”
“Did they say how long they would be?”
“I’m sorry, no. That’s all the information I have.”
Steve went back to the room, found the light switch. All the decorations were up saying “Happy birthday”. There was Champaign and canapes on the tables.
He sat down and waited.