First v. Last

Matthew 20:16 talks about the first being last and the last being first.  This particular scripture has always been meaningful to me because I'm usually first.  It makes me nervous when I'm not early.  There are a few reasons for this propensity of mine:

Always waiting for my mother, drove me insane!  I swore I would never be like that.

I'm competitive.  Very!  I've got to be first.

I want to get the paper, job, etc., done.  So I can get it off my mind.

I'm cheap.  I want to get my money's worth.  Hence, I arrive early and if I'm having a good time, I leave last.  I've got to eek out every single inch of the enjoyment.

So you see Matthew's verse always bothered me.  Of course, he wasn't talking about me.  I don't have to be first in church.  In fact, I choose the last pew.  Although that does allow me to be first to leave.  Mmmmm  But I'm not first in the Communion line.  I'm not first in the cafeteria line.  (I do have some standards.)

Now, I read Varieties in Procrastination, by David Purlmutter.  This Chronicle article brought me to reflect on being first/last.  (I bet Mr. Purlmutter would be surprised to know that he brought someone to prayer.)  It really is best to be sensible about deadlines.  I have been burned many times by being early.

During college, working three part-time jobs taught me to be very organized.  I needed to study at certain times and be a Nazi about it.  I couldn't let it go until the night before.  I couldn't pull an "all nighter."  I was probably working the night before or had to get up early to go to work.  So I'd be all prepared for that test on Friday, when the date was changed.  The test was moved to Monday.  This wrecked havoc on my schedule because working weekends meant double time.  I couldn't give that up.  So now everyone else is studying while I'm forgetting what I studied.  It would have been better to procrastinate.

Getting papers in early sometimes was a detriment.  I get better ideas, later on in the semester, but it was too late to change my theses.

Sometimes in the working world, being early doesn't pay.  I've been the first to put a bid in, figuring being early would give me an advantage.  But then the specs changed, and it would be too much work to redo the bid.  In fact, I've noticed that the late bidders usually get the job.

Shopping early often doesn't pay.  I buy Christmas presents year round.  But more than once, someone asked if they could return the gift.  No, because I bought it early in the year and there's no store with that generous a return policy.

I often find that the sale items aren't even out yet, I'm so early.  Sometimes, the sale prices haven't been changed from the regular price, yet, and I've been burned.

Timing is a science.  There's a time to be early; there's a time to be last.  It's knowing "when" is the science.  Maybe I should call it an art, instead.





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