The Commute Algorithm

I've always been prone to being late.

No matter what. Since I was a kid and now, decades later, I still feel like I'm late for just about everything.

It's a frustrating kind of late, too.

Like… just a minute or two. Like I couldn't time it better if I got there 10 minutes early and sat, just outside the door, watching the seconds tick and walked in precisely at “Luc's late again.” time.

It's entirely unintentional too, and even if the next time I think “Okay, I was two minutes late last time, so I'll leave an extra five minutes earlier NEXT time!”… the next time, inevitably, my commute algorithm will resolve such that I'm still late by exactly that same frustrating amount.

"And the longer you wait to get going,
The longer the journey seems to be.
But the sooner you get on the road,
The longer the journey seems to be."
- excerpt from Somewhere Else


It's even true since Covid and the Work-From-Home thing.

“Luc!” you say, “Dude! How's that even possible?”

I find a way… I always find a way.

I'll have my reminders of meetings pop up and snooze it for 5 minutes at a time. Reasonable, right? It's not like I'm snoozing 30 or 45 minutes at a time. Reminder pops up, I look at the time and see there's lots left. Perfect… snooze another 5. Reminders pop up and I do the same until it's getting pretty close to meeting time and I see “Okay, I have 13 minutes until the meeting. One more 5 minute snooze and I log into it!”

Makes sense, right? I should have plenty of time to log into the meeting, right?

Of course not. Because even though I snoozed 6 times prior without issue, MS Teams and Outlook decide… “Nah! We won't give Luc his last reminder!” And I, as usual, am mired deep in thought on something else (or unironically reviewing the content I'm supposed to be presenting on at that very meeting) until a gnawing uneasy feeling comes over me saying “Luc… weren't you supposed to do something… or be somewhere… or… <gasp!> MY FREAKIN' MEETING!!!”

WTF Microsoft!?! Like… W the actual F???

But is it Microsoft? Or is it “The Commute Algorithm”?


It's me.

I know it's me.

It's me because I know everyone who subscribes to The Clock Mentality does not trust Microsoft. They overcompensate and plan to be everywhere 30 minutes early for everything which means I should actually leave 60 minutes in advance. Even for unimportant stuff. Better to sit there, in an empty meeting room for 29 minutes than walk in one minute late, right?


Better to spend 5% of your available waking time, multiplied by however many meetings or appointments you have that day staring at an empty boardroom than make full use of those 30 minutes and be 60 or 90 seconds late.

Because “Late” = “You don't care”

Ladies? Amirite?

Those of you who didn't check out immediately after the very first line of this post have one hand on your hip and the other snappin' fingers in the air back and forth sayin' “You <snap!> Got <snap!> That <snap!> Right!”

Nothing says “I don't love you!” like “Sorry I'm late, Babe!”


I was an hour early for my wedding.

I was an hour early for my wedding even though I had locked my only set of keys in the trunk of my car the morning of.

I was an hour early for my wedding even though I had locked my keys in the trunk of my car the morning of and had no money on me to pay the tow truck guy. Wound up paying him out of coin stashes between couch cushions and various cuss jars throughout the house.

I was $3.76 short. Literally.

I was an hour early for my wedding even though I had locked my keys in the trunk of my car the morning of and used literally my last penny to pay the tow truck guy and was unable to buy myself a drink at my own wedding reception because I didn't dare stop by a bank machine on my way to the church.

David Bowie was living rent free in my head that morning.

“Luc! Dude! You shouldn't have had to pay for ANY drinks on your wedding day!”

Cut me some slack. It was my first time.

My friends always cut me some slack.

They often say “Luc! You're ALWAYS on time!” and these friends are folks that I used to work with and, in their minds, it's the truth.

Maybe it's because I'm always on time for work assignments. Always on time, if not early for projects. But I just despise meetings and I despise the clock and I refuse to let either dictate my worth or who I was even though they quite obviously did dictate my worth and who I was.


I've been mostly light-hearted in this post so far but allow me to go dark for a second and flip this topic on its ear…

It'll come as no surprise that, in my mind, so many useless things are tied to the clock for no reason whatsoever. We all know that special “someone” who comes in perfectly on time at 7:00 a.m. and leaves perfectly on time at 3:00 p.m. and are viewed as excellent, productive employees even though they produce exactly zero in the entire 8 hours between those two points of time. They while away the hours staring out of windows, playing solitaire, interrupting co-workers with the latest disinterested pose their cat struck, or, my favourite (from back in the old days which, thankfully, no longer occurs), selling products for that old pyramid scheme, mail-order four letter company and yet they are viewed as more productive and more valuable than someone who isn't punctual for the inconsequential but always delivers the critical work that is the bread and butter of the organisation.

<heavy sigh>

But that's enough Whataboutism for one post… ;)

“Hey Luc!” you point out “Here's a LinkedIn article saying ‘Rule 1 through 10 of being a Good Employee: Early is on time and on time is late!’…”

LinkedIn, and Employers, need to expand their horizons a bit.

I've got drawers full of awards and recognition for successful projects I've been on and not a single one of them is for Punctuality.

Not. One.

“Uhm… Luc… D'you think maybe there were some awards for punctuality but you were late to the presentation?”

…Stop turning my logic against me!

Listen, if you're a doctor or a 9-1-1 operator, fire, ambulance, school teacher, transit employee (except in Ottawa, cough! cough!), nuclear power worker, service industry, etc… then ABSOLUTELY you have to be on time.

But if the job isn't critically tied to the clock then it's piecemeal project oriented and anyone tying value to timeliness other than that project's specific deliverables exposes their own incompetence.

Ya. I said it. Incompetence. Stopwatch Management, on its own, is the lowest form of management and doesn't even appear as a blip on the Leadership spectrum.

“But Luc!” some may exclaim, “Timeliness is next to Godliness!”

Thanks for making my case. As an Atheist, timeliness, on its own, is pointless.

“Okay Luc,” you concede, “…not every meeting is valuable, that's fair. But what about RESPECT? It's about respecting THEIR time as well!”

Oh, absolutely. Meetings can be important. Critical and productive even. But don't for one minute try to pretend all meetings are.

It's important to show up for work every day, yes, but to force that to be on some artificial timeline tied exclusively to one individual's whims? Who's disrespecting whom?

Now <snap!> It's <snap!> My <snap!> Turn <snap!> To <snap!> Snap <snap!> My <snap!> Fingers!


Okay, that's the end of my rant, and, granted I vented a bit there and there's varying levels of validity to my arguments (and, truth be told, I'm actually on time most of the time), but just do me a favour and check your own attitude about clocks.

“So, Luc…” you ask, “…uhm how does all that relate to the music video you're sharing here…?”

You tell me… here's another excerpt from “Somewhere Else”…

"…The sooner you start, the longer you wait,
And you're runnin' and runnin' cause you can't be late.
And the clock'll strike whether you're there or not…
Get there and remember what you forgot.

No time to think. No time to sleep.
No time to make time while the seconds creep…
Analog. Digital. Sundials. Internals.
Ticking and tocking sounds infernal.

Clickety clock's not my friend."

Cover image of single

Somewhere Else

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