Tag Archives: family

Missed Team Effort Post: The Power of Institutions

I hated airports. For someone who hated them, I found myself in them almost on a monthly basis. Perhaps that is why I abhorred them so. Sitting in the coffee shop by the arrivals gate, I sipped my over-priced, poorly-made, coffee and stared unfocused at the people milling about, glaring at nothing in particular.

There were little family clusters in front of where I sat. Mixtures of friends and families anxiously waiting for loved ones, some gripping cheesy homemade signs, others craning their necks to see beyond the customs gate. And when they arrived, with smiles spreading wide on faces, arms wrapped warmly around each other, and greetings exchanged, I scowled. The happier they were the more I glared, recalling how I had been drawn into this situation.

It was always my mother who said it, and always in the same expectant tone, “Julian, remember to fetch your sister from the airport today, okay?” An innocuous statement, but filled with the weight of cultural expectations, stuffed with undertones of my rebellious childhood, and just a tinge of disappointment that I wasn’t a more filial son.

All of that at 9am and I hadn’t even had my morning coffee yet.

Annoyance, anger, and frustration, a toxic combination, began to boil up in me. Did she think I wouldn’t remember my own sister’s homecoming? Why was I given no chance to prove myself without her already assuming I would forget or not want to go? Admittedly, she was right. I didn’t want to go. The fact that she was right about me only made me angrier, though whether it was at myself or her I could not tell.

I bit back my retort, clenching my fists and reminded myself that I was a grown man no matter how my mother treated me otherwise. “Yes, Mom. I’ll go get her.”

This would be my role no matter how old I got. I was the son, and thus obligated to certain responsibilities. I had learned this a long time ago, that no amount of rebellion, of perfect GPAs, of clients served would ever change the fact that I was my mother’s son and duty bound to heed her words.

And it bothered me. It wasn’t just that it did not make sense to me why a trip to the airport was made by anyone not traveling themselves—seriously, why spend twice the amount of gas, three times the amount of time just so a single person can get from point A to point B? There are cabs for that. It wasn’t just that sometimes reason and logic did not apply—many things don’t. But it was the simple fact that she would ask, and I would do, and nothing else would make her quite as proud, nor myself quite as filial. Such was the nature of my culture. Thank you Confucius.

So, sullen and sulking, I immaturely drank my iced coffee, purposefully slouching in my seat. I had been there for 30 minutes, in addition to the hour long drive I took to get here. In my stubbornness, I had refused to bring a book, determined to make the whole experience as unproductive and awful as I felt and believed.

Really, picking up your sister from the airport should not inspire such negativity.

Mentally, I made a list of all of the more efficient and productive things I could be doing with my time. I could be reviewing some metrics for a team meeting on Thursday. I could be working on the new pitch for a big client we were going to present on Friday. I could be catching up on television, reading, relaxing, cleaning my apartment. I scoffed quietly to myself. Even cleaning my apartment was better than being here.

Glancing up at the announcement board, I see my sister’s flight has not only landed but had the baggage claim running already. I got up, ready to meet her at our designated pick up point. Exit customs and turn left.

She caught me by surprise.

“Julian!” she yelled, leaving her suitcase to trail behind her she hugged me. “Oh, it’s so good to see you!”

“Hiya, sis.” I gave a brief hug in return and even managed to crack a small smile. “Good flight?”

She laughed, immune to my negative energy and began telling me about the four different movies she saw while we walked to the car. “Thank you so much for picking me up, by the way,” she said and I looked up from where I was hauling her suitcase into the car. “I know you hate it.”

The suitcase safely installed in my trunk, I closed the lid and shrugged. “It’s what I got to do. Has to be done.” Pausing, I quirked a smile, “Besides, I’ve had enough time in the airport to brood about it.”

This was something I was supposed to post for the other blog with Jess, but was late due to physical illness and, what insurance companies would call, “major life events.” I didn’t want to leave it hanging while I started on the new Team Effort post, so here it is!

I’ll be back with Tiny Things too!


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The People of Late and Onus

For as long as I can remember my family has always had a problem with being on time. I don’t know why or how it started but we are most consistently late. Even if we account for the chronic lateness by arranging to meet earlier, leave earlier, be ready sooner, we somehow always end up late. It’s really goddamn frustrating.

One would perhaps think that with today’s latest communication technology there would be no time wasted. Not only can you immediately communicate your whereabouts and ETA to the required parties but you can also amuse yourself while waiting. Or if you really like (like me) to be productive, you can use said technology to update yourself on the news, read or check your email. Or perhaps conversely that those who did not grow up with said technology as I have would be doubly prompt, seeing as in their pasts such frequent and accurate updates were impossible. None of these considerations apply to my family.

Everything is planned out the night before, while everybody is present after dinner before the lack of energy sets in. What are we going to do tomorrow? What time are we leaving? When will we be back? Where should we be at blank-blank time? Almost as if we’re a team planning a heist like in the movies, our outings have events with time, date and locations. But unlike the movies, we are never successful.

Someone has slept in. Someone took too long of a shower. Someone took too long deciding what to wear. Someone didn’t tell the other they were out of the shower and ‘yes, you can use it now’. Someone on time, notices the lateness of everyone else and begins to watch TV or read or go back online. Everyone gets distracted. It’s thirty minutes past departure. We’re late.

The lateness then turns to frustration and annoyance which eventually leads to arguing and raised voices but if it’s really bad it’ll just be silent. The heavy quiet that settles over occupants of a car, each childishly facing pointedly away from the other, fuming, mulling and wallowing in their stubbornness, simultaneously enhances and suppresses strong emotions. Silence is the worst, the ultimate time and energy waster.

At the crux of it though is most likely guilt. Nobody and everybody here is at fault. Everybody could have done something better and this tidbit of knowledge keeps us in a battle between blaming ourselves and blaming others, trapped in silence. Waiting for someone else to break the silence first because I don’t have the guts or the humility to admit mistakes, I sit and the guilt eats at me, commanding me to be better than this, to be above this while the pride sews shut my lips and keeps my eyes glaring at nothing in particular. And as I wait, time continues to pass….

I hate waiting. I hate waiting, especially on people, because it means I’m most likely being unproductive. Mostly I hate waiting on myself. Why can’t the period of time between emotional highs and calmer, more sober and reasonable lows pass as quickly as it took for me to reach the aforementioned high? If I can jump to unpleasant conclusions so fast, doesn’t it logically follow that falling from them should be even faster?

But it’s not falling, anything but. More like struggling to walking down a curved staircase in ridiculous high heels and a tight dress while trying not to look at your feet and pretty all at once–think any cheesy chick flick with that stair case scene and the guy looks up and says something like “you’re beautiful”—except slower and without any of the pleasant anticipation during or compliment at the end. In the ideal world where this crazy analogy makes sense, to the man waiting at the bottom, the dress, the make-up, the heels were not unappreciated but essentially unnecessary for the compliment. Meaning, it was a little bit of a waste. Coming down that figurative emotional staircase, caught tight in an emotionally high strung dress, made up with pride tinted make up, walking shakily on guilty heels, is me wasting time. I hate wasting time.

Hi! So this is creative non-fiction, a genre I used to have a lot of trouble with but have now discovered that I write a lot of it, embellishing and taking liberties with the events of my life, what can I say? I’m a little bit of a drama queen at times. Pretty sure it runs in the family, that and lateness. Thus leading to the above-written-about situation. Hope you enjoyed!

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