Writer’s Workshop: The Late John Holton

No, I haven’t died, unless something has happened between the time I wrote this (Tuesday afternoon) and the time you’re reading it that I don’t know about.

Since being married to Mary, we’re not late for anything. In fact, we’re almost always early, sometimes by an hour or more. I can’t really say the same thing for times when I have been on my own, but there have been times when there have been extenuating circumstances. Sometimes not entirely my fault.

There was the morning that I had an exam in a class I wasn’t doing especially well in. I lived at Loyola’s north side campus, but took all my classes at the downtown one, and it was often a struggle to get to class on time. This particular class was the first of the day for me, so I was sure to get up extra early and give myself plenty of time to get there.

I usually took the train downtown, but this particular morning I arrived in front of the L station just as the #151 Sheridan Road bus arrived. I decided to take the bus that morning. I had taken another bus to school, the #147, that ran roughly along the same roads and had gotten me to school in plenty of time, and I was certain the 151 would do the trick for me.

What I failed to take into consideration was that the 147 was an express bus, while the 151 was a local. Thus, I was surprised when the bus failed to turn down the Outer Drive, but continued down Sheridan Road. It stopped at nearly every street corner to pick up more passengers, some of whom hadn’t found the fifty cent fare before boarding. When that happened, the bus driver waited patiently as they rummaged through pockets and purses looking for sufficient change to allow the bus to continue, oblivious to the poor bastard that was having fits wondering if he’d ever get to school.

To make a long story short, instead of arriving at school well before the nine o’clock start time, I dashed into the classroom at a quarter to ten, giving me all of five minutes to do the exam. (Ten, really; the professor took pity on me and gave me an extra five minutes.) Surprisingly, I didn’t do that badly on the exam, managing a C minus. Could have been worse.

Then, there was the morning, during the time when I was working third shift, that I had a nine o’clock interview with another company. I had verified the route several times with the interviewer and with the CTA (since I didn’t drive at the time), and estimated that, even if I left work as late as 7:30, I would have plenty of time to get to the place, fill out the application, and be nice and relaxed for the interview.

Unbeknownst to me, as I worked that night, a snowstorm blew through Chicago, leaving roughly ten inches of blowing and drifting snow practically everywhere. This tied up the buses and made the roughly four-block walk to the site from the bus stop an adventure. But I made it, an hour and a half late. The interviewer was polite, granting me fifteen minutes to make the case for hiring me before showing me the door.

More snow was falling when I exited the building, and continued to fall as I rode and as I waited an hour for a bus to take me home. I got home, finally, four hours later, and fell into bed, fully dressed. The last sound I heard was the phone ringing, which I figured was either the interviewer or the recruiter calling to tell me that they had seen all they wanted of me and to have a nice life. Which was fine by me. I never wanted to see them again, either.

Are there more stories? Oh, believe me, I could write a book.

Today’s prompt was “Write a blog post inspired by the word: late.”

22 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: The Late John Holton

  1. I think you were lucky to have still been given the chance to write the test and do the interview. To be able to get a C with only 10 minutes reminds me of my ex who wrote his one essay in 10 minutes and then slipped it under the door of his prof only to get a B. I would work 3 days on an essay and still get a C:) As for the job interview, I’m glad you didn’t get the job because the person should take the huge snowfall into consideration.


    1. The interviewer gave me the willies, in all honesty. The professor wrote on the test “Maybe you would have done better if you had been here earlier.” I doubt it…


  2. Hah, at first I thought you were going to write your own obituary! Glad it was just some adventures in being late. Nice of the professor to let you take the test. Things happen for a reason they say, so probably better you didn’t get that job. Have a great Thursday, John!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, he gave me a whole five more minutes, no less. As for the job, the interviewer spent his entire time massaging Vaseline Intensive Care into his hands, which gave me the creeps. I left there knowing I wanted nothing to do with them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never enjoyed being late, so your stories send a chill through me. Obviously you learned how to take being late in stride, and how to turn it into chapters of your book…? 😉


  4. My daughters always laugh about the most used excuse by house cleaners, customers, and fellow workers they deal with when they are late- “I had car trouble.” This is a variation of your, ” I had bus trouble.”


    1. Either that or the weather. I tried to get to work one morning and all the roads were flooded. Car trouble is a good excuse because how are they going to check on it? A lot of times you don’t need a garage or AAA to come out….


  5. I have always been an early bird and have been known to drive around aimlessly or sit in a parking lot until the event time has arrived!


  6. I’m one of those annoyingly early people or I show up a few minutes late because something happened (mostly me not wanting to leave my house)


  7. I have a few late stories, but I’m seldom late. If I’m late, it was unavoidable. I like to be early.
    That one about you walkin through a snowstorm — that takes me back to my university days, when I walked my butt out to the west quad for my 8am, oh about a half mile in snow nearer my knees than my ankles, only to find the class was canceled. I’ll never forget it. Along with many other cold and angry people, I stood around in the lobby long enough to get warm enough to go back out. What a LONG morning.


    1. Like when the GPS takes you on adventure? 😆

      Nothing worse than having something canceled while you’re on your way to it. Now they can send text messages to the class when it cancels.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My step father was a guard at Texaco. He would leave an hour earlier than necessary for work. In case he had a flat tire or something. All the mornings everything went fine, he drank coffee & read the newspaper in the cafe across the street from the refinery.


    1. That wouldn’t have been in Monroe, Louisiana, would it? If it was, I’ve eaten at that restaurant. I remember there was a refinery across the street. (There was also a Johns-Manville paper mill in West Monroe. Depending on which way the wind blew, you got the smell from one or the other.)


  9. I hate being late, but am guilty of poor time management. I always think things will take me less time than they do. But I would think if you’re hiring a worker and they have to travel through a BLIZZARD to meet with you, you could cut them a little slack. Sheesh!


    1. It was the days before cellphones, too. Now, you don’t think about calling and saying you’re going to be late. Then, if you were out in the middle of nowhere, you had to find a phone, and lots of luck with that.


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