Have you heard the expression ‘timing is everything’? Lately I have been exposed to this idea an awful lot. I have always thought nothing of it, but on closer inspection I do agree there is a certain degree of truth to this saying.
What has also struck me about the highlighted importance of timing is that I regularly see it applied to a wide variety of contexts and scenarios. Be it as a means to explain success or failure in sporting endeavours (a batsman in cricket for example), explanations for the popularity of a band or TV show (how often do you here “they came along at just the right time”?) and even with something as trivial as how long someone takes to pour a pint of Guinness.
So it would appear that if an event or action happens to occur at the appropriate time then a successful outcome is more likely. You see, if a cricketing batsman swings at a delivery too late he may miss or edge the ball and be given out, if , for example, the Beatles had of recorded music in the 1940’s or 50’s before the prevalence and discovery of recreational drugs such as of amphetamines/speed, marijuana and LSD it is possible that they would not have been able to hone their performance skills in Hamburg and some of their most acclaimed work which was entrenched in drug use (Revolver, Sgt Pepper et al) would never have happened. I have also been told by multiple drunks that if you rush pouring a pint of Guinness apparently it tastes shit! (Although I think it tastes shit regardless…but that’s another story).
I have only really thought about this expression and idea recently, mostly because it seems that I myself have been cursed with ‘bad timing’. Having missed my train home from Fareham station for the 3rd day in a row I began to wonder whether or not my life would be any better or worse if the timing of certain events had been different.
Let’s break this down:
I often miss my train home – bad timing, I have previously gotten involved with girls (who could have possibly become the future Mrs Jay Robinson) only to learn that they are either just coming out of a relationship or focussing on work or wanting to get too serious too soon or are ‘finding themselves’ and not wanting anything serious – bad timing, I became a Liverpool FC supporter around 1990/91 just as their dominance of English football began its on-going lengthy hiatus – very bad timing, I often encounter TV shows/Bands/fashions and various other FADS at the precise moment that they are no longer popular/trendy/relevant which renders my attempts at quoting/referencing/buying tickets for them redundant (in 2012 no-one is interested in discussing The OC with me, everyone has heard and moved on from all the jokes from the Chappelle Show, all my friends have already seen The White Lies live and it would seem that my Lyle and Scott polo shirt has transformed from being cool to passé -it’s all about All Saints clothing these days apparently!) – bad timing, I have interviewed for jobs and met with employers who, whilst thinking that I am great, have just hired someone with my skills and experience (I can’t tell the amount of times I have heard “if only we’d have found you 2 months ago…”) – again, bad timing. I even graduated university just as the Global Recession came to fruition, this inevitably impacted upon the employment marketing and therefore limited what employment options were available to graduates like myself in possession of a Politics degree (i.e. not a lot besides sales and recruitment!) – bad timing.
My supposed relationship with bad timing came into effect again this week. For starters, I had picked a bad time to leave my umbrella at work. Of course from the moment I opened my front door and stepped outside the rain hammered down mercilessly. However an insanely overpriced bus journey from Osbourne Rd to Portsmouth and Southsea train station spared me the worst of it initially and I was able to enjoy my train journey to Fareham (which I just made on time) in comfort, relatively dry.
It was not until I reached Fareham that my lack of umbrella proved to be an issue. The rain had grown in intensity and was beating the pavement so hard it was as if the pavement owed it money. Having been stung by the earlier bus journey I was reluctant to consider public transport again. Besides, I figured seeing as it is a 12 minute walk to the office and that no busses to take me from A to B without at least 5 minutes of walking anyways, and that there were also no taxi’s waiting for customers (but a queue was building in anticipation of their arrival), that my only option was to brave the elements and walk to work.
I arrived at the office 12 minutes later absolutely drenched. Now I am not one for hyperbole but I was completely soaked through to my skin and can safely say this was wettest anyone has ever been without swimming or bathing! My trousers clung to my skin, the rain had somehow penetrated my winklepickers and left my socks and feet drowning in dampness, beads of water ran down my face and clung to my hair, which had only survived a dousing due to large beanie hat I keep in my leather man-bag (it was a gift, don’t judge me).
Fortunately for me it was still early and I was the first person in the upstairs office. I still had enough time to dry myself off, make myself beautiful again following this onslaught of rain and get my bearings before my co-workers arrived.
First stop was the toilet where I used the outdated towel roller thing (you know, a towel which is fixed to a cylinder to turn it round, they are inside a large plastic dispenser which offers a small part of the towel to dry your hands with? They used to be found in many pub toilets I think, before the dominance of the hand dryer…do you know what I mean?) to dry my face and feet. I then headed upstairs and changed my socks (a prior incident with rain which had caused me to spend a day with wet feet had taught me a valuable lesson). I had no change of trousers though so assumed I would just have to tough it out with wet legs (the worst of it was on the upper thigh area) until the trousers dried themselves. The thought crossed my mind that I could always fill a couple of mugs up with boiling water and sit with them placed precariously in my lap until they warm me up a tad and gradually chip away at my discomfort but then I saw it…
I have been based in this upstairs office for 4 months now. How have I never noticed it before? It was the perfect solution.
“Oh thank you Jesus and Buddha and Muhammed and Robbie Fowler” I cried out. I am of course referring to the massive radiator that resides no more than 10 feet away from my desk. Having quickly shaken off the thought that this could simply be my mind playing tricks on me and offering me some kind of white collar mirage, I had a brain wave.
The plan was simple, I could spend the next 10 minutes until my colleague got here using the heat from the radiator to dry my trousers thus meaning I could spend my entire day in comfort. Essentially I had two options: 1) take my trousers off and leave them on the radiator to dry out/heat up or 2) press myself up against the radiator and benefit from the heat not only warming my trousers, but my cold body too. I made the decision to pluck for the latter as I was worried that a colleague could easily breeze into the office at any moment and I felt that the site of me shivering in my pants would probably cause undue distress to all parties who bore witness to it. Chances are it would have led to, best case scenario, a serious reprimand from my bosses and no self-respecting grown up wants to be told off, especially when you are either in wet trousers (or without trousers altogether!). Also the cold weather had an adverse effect of the…ahem, ‘contents’ of my underwear, thus making me a little self-conscious about my ‘package’ (or lack thereof).
The radiator is at an awkward height, very wide and low to the ground. You would think that with the radiator being close to the ground this would make it easier to dry my legs off. You would be wrong. As the area most inflicted was the upper thigh region I would have to lower my position in order to make appropriate contact with the radiator. Figuring that I did not have much time to act I took to the task with gusto. I eagerly squatted into a position where my knees bent at roughly a 45 degree angle and pointed outward (the best example I can provide in order to create a mental image is that of the hind legs of a frog/toad when it is in a standing position) and I thrust myself against the warm radiator.
The effect was instant and the piping heat from the radiator immediately went about evaporating the excess water on my trousers, tiny clouds of steam began to arise. Such was the heat that I had to retreat after a few seconds to prevent myself from possibly burning.
I repeated the process several times, edging myself against the radiator for a few seconds before moving back briefly and then going towards it again. Once the heat had laid the surface water on my trousers to waste it set about warming up the dampness on the trousers and, by extension, my legs. Have you ever been really cold and then gotten into a steaming hot bath or sipped a nice warm cup of tea? If so you will understand when I involuntary let out a satisfied ‘ahhhhhh’ as the radiator fulfilled its destiny and transformed my shivering body back into a beacon of warmth and comfort. Such was my joy regarding the gratification provided by the near instant heating of my previous soaked trousers that I almost fell over. I grasped the top of radiator with both hands and again thrust myself into the radiator. Again I let out a satisfied ‘ahhhhh’. This one may have been slightly louder than the previous one.
As the heat coursed through my legs I closed my eyes for a moment and rocked my head backwards. I was a picture of content, I was finally warm and could now go about my day free from personal discomfort and worry about my day routine of try to convince Engineers to go and work in Saudi Arabia. Despite all efforts the world was not going to beat me today, today was going to be a great day and I was going to approach the following 9 hours at work with a new found drive, optimism and enthusiasm.
My happy thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a man clearing his throat. For some reason I felt a bolt of terror strike through my body, as if striking me in top of my head before coursing down through my chest and legs and planting itself right into the soles of my feet. I couldn’t move. I had not been this crippled by fear since I was aged 12 and was anticipating the wrath of an angry mother once I had realised when I was outside my front door that the brand new Reebok polo shirt that had once been tucked into the waistband of my shorts had gone missing.
I slowly turned around to see my 62 year old Managing Director standing right behind me. The expression on his face is a tough one to describe as it was a kind of hybrid of disgust, anger and confusion (if you ever see me in person I shall happily demonstrate for you). Seemingly, the ability to produce words and sounds had momentarily vacated me, so I just stared at him, eyes wide…for what seemed like ages.
Now I feel should interject here and give you a little bit of context.
Both you and I know that nothing sinister is going on, I am simply drying myself off by pressing myself against a low standing radiator. However upon reflection I can see why this innocent occurrence may have seemed sordid. I mean, I was pressed against the radiator, I was squatting down whilst grabbing on to it and manoeuvring a certain area of my anatomy back and forth from it. All of this whilst letting out a satisfied ‘ahhhhh’ sound. To the untrained eye I suppose it could have possibly looked as if I was…um…for want of a better phase…shagging the radiator. I can assure you that I was not. I can categorically state that I have never tried gain sexual gratification from a radiator (or any other inanimate object for that matter) and most certainly do not find them sexually attractive in any way, shape or form. Most people would have assumed this, had a giggle at my expense and moved on.
Not my boss. He thinks I am weird. He has good reason to. For you see, I like to mess with my boss at every given opportunity. This is usually just pretty tame stuff, for example with him being a somewhat conventional, traditional and well-spoken chap I like to refer to him by a variety of hip-hop style nicknames (B Diddy, A-Rod, my dawg, big dawg-pitbull etc.) and will use my young person vernacular in order to confuse him with phrases like “shout me a holla”, “hit me back” and “fo’ shizzle”. Although most people would grasp the irony in the one of whitest and nerdiest guys on god’s green earth talking like he is the epitome of cool.
The irony sails over his head though. Recently I have stepped things up too: upon hearing that he is quite protective of his 2 daughters (his eldest same age as me) I have made constant references to how I know her (the elder daughter) and have plans to seduce her, this had led to me finding a picture of her on Facebook, saving it to my phone and setting it as my background.
There was also a time, after hearing his opinions on the modern world, that I pretended to be openly gay and wanted his advice on what I should wear on my date that night with a hunky fireman, I also asked his opinions on whether I should ‘put out’ on the first date or make him work for it. His discomfort was palpable and the office became quite tense for a few hours afterwards. Although I eventually admitted my ruse to him, he has never looked at me the same since.
You can now maybe start to see why this guy could think that I would be the sort of guy who might sometimes shag a radiator!
Anyways, he held my gaze for a few seconds (it felt like hours!) before he asked “what on earth are you doing?!”. I could feel life re-entering my body and the ability to speak slowly returning “ummmm…” I answered, still waiting for my brain to get into gear “I got wet on my walk to work so am drying myself on the radiator” I answered, matter-of-factly. He then again held my gaze, his eye narrowed with a look that I have only seen before when my Mum, Nan and Teachers would quiz me about some indiscretion that they knew I was responsible for but could not prove. I have played this game before and I know what they are doing. They are using the quiet to let the atmosphere fester and make you uncomfortable in the hope that you will incriminate yourself when you attempt to break the awkward silence. I often fell for it. ‘Not this time buddy’, I thought to myself, ‘I am a grown up these days and do not fall for these Jedi mind tricks anymore’. Then it happened…
“I wasn’t trying to shag the radiator you know…” It was like my mouth was operating on its own, completely detached from my brain. Something in my head must have wanted me to just address the proverbial elephant in the room so that we could move on. In reality I wanted to slap myself but I figured that I was not covering myself in glory here and it may be wisest to not give my boss further cause to seek to have me committed.
His eyes slowly reverted back to their normal state, a confused “errrr….ok then” was all he could muster before he sat down at his desk, switched his computer on and went about his morning ritual.
Clearly he was dumbstruck by what had just occurred and could not summon the words to express his disgust at me.
That morning whilst I was working at my desk I could often feel him looking at me, I didn’t need to look to know that he was shaking his head, still exasperated what he had earlier witnessed. We haven’t really spoken since either. When we do our conversations remain 100% business related. I want to talk to him but I am afraid that my awkward mind will take over and I will make a joke about the radiator incident which will make him uncomfortable.
I also worry that he now thinks I am a some sort of degenerate and should I engage him in any lengthy discussion then will be unable to hold his tongue and will deliver a verbal assault usually reserved for X-factor contestants and politicians on Question Time. We try to avoid being alone in the office together now too. Hopefully things will improve over time and we will revert back to our usual dynamic but whilst this tension stills lingers in the air I fear that this will never be. Most days now if I am not on the phone I just sit there in an awkward limbo, cursing my poor timing and its ability to mess with my life once again.
Despite this nucleus of this tale being about an awkward moment, the moral of the story really relates back to timing.
None of the aforementioned events would have happened if it hadn’t of rained that day, if I hadn’t of left my umbrella at work, if there had been a taxi at the train station, if I had arrived a few minutes earlier or if my boss had arrived a few minutes later. If you really think about it I have no control over these variables and therefore I can’t beat myself up too much about events such as embarrassing myself, getting wet, missing trains, not finding Mrs Right yet, being a Liverpool fan, having outdated musical, clothing and television preferences and not being overly satisfied with my career choices. It’s all just down to factors such as bad timing, I can’t do nothing about this so I will just have to continue to make sure I enjoy life, try not upset anyone too much and deal head on with whatever the world throws at me.
Some of you will argue to the contrary and suggest that actually I do have control over these events. If I simply just stop messing with my boss, start listening out for people entering rooms, think before I speak, make sure I remember my umbrella, leave for the train a little earlier, try harder with relationships, be grateful for the club I support, be comfortable with my tastes instead of focussing of what is deemed ‘trendy’ or contemporary, and be proactive in defining what I want from my working life before establishing the ways and means of how to achieve it, then I would not find myself in these situations and would have a happier, more fulfilled life.
“Timing has nothing to do with it Jay”, I hear you cry, “if you want your life to be better I am afraid to say that this is down to you, only you and no one else but you. Fate may a small part but ultimately we shape our own destiny, stop making excuses and buck your ideas up!”.
This is certainly food for thought. I am sorry to say that whilst this argument may have some validity to it I unfortunately have neither the emotional maturity or desire to place blame or focus on myself. For now I’ll stick to blaming timing thank you very much.
Oh, and just so you know, the awkwardness in my office following the radiator indecent has become too much for me and I am now looking for a new job. However as businesses begin to wind down for Christmas December is a apparently a ‘bad time of year to be looking’. Typical!…