This morning, I was so tired that I actually woke up early.
The alarm goes off, so I roll over and notice on the alarm clock that the last two digits on the digital watch face read ":50." I do not bother to read the first digit - I don't know why - otherwise I would see that it reads "7:50" instead of "8:50" and I would hit snooze, roll back over and go back to sleep.
Instead I shout, "Goddamn it, I'm going to be late!" to nobody in particular as I frantically roll out of bed.
As I'm leaving my apartment building, I check my watch and notice only the minute hand, which reads ":56." I do not bother to check the hour hand, because I am convinced beyond all doubt that it is in fact an hour later than it really is.
I turn the corner onto George street, walk under the El tracks and walk down my usual route to work, noticing that I haven't noticed one familiar face yet. "That's strange,' I wonder to myself. 'Where is everyone?'
As I walk past the middle school on George, I see that there are kids still playing on the playground. 'Shouldn't those kids be indoors?' I ask myself. 'What is wrong with that school? I thought classes start at 9:00.' Which of course they do, and probably will today too. But instead of double checking my watch or, for that matter, checking the time on the school's digital message board that routinely flashes the correct time and temperature, I go along in a daze assuming that it is the world and not I that is an hour off.
I open the doors and walk in to work. I notice that my friend and coworker Pat is not in yet, which surprises me since he's normally at work before me. My manager starts his day pretty early, and as I pass by his desk I make sure to mumble some sort of groggy apology for being a little bit late. I just barely register the confused look on his face as I reach my desk.
As I sit down at my desk, I check the digital clock on my phone. 8:03. 'Good I'm only three minutes late. That's not too late... wait, 8:03?!'
I stand back up, my mind whirling as all of these clues (like, for instance, the five or six time pieces I've walked past within the past 15 minutes) fall into place, as though I were in a thriller movie where suddenly the whole movie comes together in a moment of clarity where I realize who the killer (or in this case, the idiot) was all along.
I look over to my manager, probably with a look of wonder and confusion plastered across my face, and say, "I'm early, aren't I?"
"Yes," he says carefully, probably not sure whether or not I'm about to freak out. I let the time sink in for a moment.
"I'm really early, aren't I?"
"Weren't you trying to be early?" he asked.
"No. I thought I was late," I say, mostly to myself.
He chuckles and says, "man, sometimes you crack me up."