Getting places on time in NYC

How to handle lateness in NYC? With Patience.

I was late to brunch on Saturday. I’d left my apartment with plenty of time to get to my friend’s neighborhood, pick up some apple cider, and show up on her doorstep, but I wasn’t paying attention when I got on the train and only realized I’d messed up when it started going across the Manhattan Bridge. Oops!

I was only fifteen minutes late, not a huge deal when you’re meeting at someone’s apartment instead of a restaurant, but it still annoyed me. I was late a lot growing up and as an adult I try to always be on time. That’s not always easy in New York – you don’t have to drive anywhere, but the subway has its own problems. Delays and construction aside, if you’re running just a couple minutes late and miss the train, you can suddenly be ten minutes late, or even later depending on the time of day.

Fortitude works, too.

Fortitude works, too.

Sometimes it really doesn’t matter if you’re late. I had a few friends over to watch a movie a couple weeks ago and people were running late. But it was Friday night and I was home, so I just watched TV till people arrived. No problem! But other times, being late means missing the beginning of a show, or being late to a rehearsal, or getting to work later than you planned. Last month I was on my way to dinner with friends and I got off the train a stop early rather than wait on a crowded platform for the next one. Bad move – it was a long walk, and my friends were left waiting at the restaurant for a while.

The solution, of course, is to leave extra time to get anywhere, especially when you’re going someplace for the first time! But somehow it seems that the days when you need extra time – when the train’s packed and you have to let it go by, or the doors close as you’re swiping your metro card – are the ones where you’re already running late. The days where you leave early? They tend to be the ones where all your connections work out perfectly and you end up at your destination ten minutes early. And on the days you’re early? The person you’re meeting up with is probably going to be late.

Some people would say here, “Thank goodness for smart phones!” But since I am still clinging to my dumb phone, I’ll say, “Thank goodness for books!” and wait patiently for you to show up, because I’m a little early.

What’s your surefire way to get somewhere on time?

4 Comments

  1. Since moving to NY, I have become a skilled power walker! I’ve also learned walking shortcuts (i.e. where to get on the train so that you’re lined up with an exit or knowing to always to walk parallel to busy streets like Broadway because people walk soo slowly there).

    In other situations, I just sink into a good book as well, and realize that there is little I can do about it :)

    • Power walking is so key! I feel bad dodging around slow people sometimes, unless they’re tourists. :)

      The only caveat with a book is that sometimes that’s what gets me in trouble — I was reading on my way to brunch this Saturday and that’s why I missed the fact that I was on the wrong train! I took the F train for several years and once (only once, thank goodness) got on the M accidentally and didn’t realize it till I was going across the bridge because I was reading a really good book.

  2. If I use an app like HopStop or Google Maps for directions and it tells me that I’ll arrive somewhere in x amount of time, I try to leave at least 15 minutes beforehand to give myself time to walk to the train station or just in case there are any delays (which always seem to happen when I’m on a train haha)

    • Me too, especially since there are days where I’ll be ready to go at the time I’ve decided to leave and then will remember one last thing I need to do! Those 15 minutes are the perfect cushion for that.

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