Timeliness fell by the wayside

By Karl Terry: CNJ columnist

I honestly can’t remember it ever happening to me in my adult life until this past week. I confess, I overslept on a workday.

After some 35 years of getting to work on time — if not a little bit early — I blew it by a little better than two hours. Panic, fear, dread and bewilderment only begin the list of feelings that rushed over me when I awoke shortly after 9:30 a.m. on a workday Monday.

About 10 minutes later, the excuse I offered a coworker calling to find out if I was OK involved sleeping pills, a power outage affecting my alarm, a bum knee, a sick wife and an old dying dog.

“It’s none of my business but it just didn’t seem like you at all not to be here on time,” said the coworker.

I’m a creature of habit, especially in the morning and my routine is so automatic I’m kind of like one of those mules they used in coal mines that go about their job without anyone driving or leading them because they know exactly where every step is to be placed.

My alarm is set for 6 a.m. but the clock is actually set ahead about eight minutes. Normally I’m awake by the time it ever goes off. I get up, take the morning medicine, put on sweats or shorts and t-shirt and wander out to the living room. I turn on the TV. While the coffeemaker gets started I watch the last few minutes of the morning news out of Amarillo to get the weather. I change the channel to Imus in the Morning and go back to the kitchen to pour myself the first cup of Joe. I watch Imus while I eat breakfast then feed each dog two jerky treats apiece.

At that point I pour another cup and load the dishwasher with any dishes left from the previous night, I check the dogs’ food and water then make a quick check of the garden or water house plants. I come back into the kitchen and pack my lunch and by then the living room clock, which is set precisely on the hour, chimes 7 a.m.

I shower, dress, kiss the wife and leave Portales for work in Clovis no later than 7:34 a.m.

I’ve worn the title of manager for more of those 35 working years than not. I’ve usually been the guy who looks up at the clock and scowls when an employee comes in 10 minutes late. Instead of getting the scowl from my managers this particular morning I found myself the subject of a good belly laugh or two.

“The story was just so incredible I had to believe it,” said one boss.

The facts of this embarrassing situation are actually somewhat fuzzy. I took two ibuprofen PM tablets Sunday night after yard work left my knees sore. I never have liked taking any kind of sleeping pill or pain pill but old age and occasional sleeplessness have led me change my mind over the last few years. After taking the tablets I carefully reset the alarm clock as it wasn’t correct over the weekend but because of the power outage, I didn’t realize it had actually been shut off.

It was bad but perhaps the worst thing about the whole episode was that my wife, who is a chronic over-sleeper, was the one to realize I had overslept and she got the rare opportunity to wake me. Something tells me she’ll never let me forget my one transgression.