How I Lost a Superpower during the Pandemic

clockI used to pride myself on my punctuality. It wasn’t like I was in some sort of contest or anything, but to me, punctuality meant respect for other people and their valuable time.

That being the case, I always did my very best to leave early enough to arrive on time.

My goal was always to arrive early, but not too early either and rob myself of precious minutes from my time-starved existence.

With years of experience, commuting by car and by bus, I became pretty skillful at predicting how much extra time to allow, when factoring in bad weather, construction and traffic congestion on any given day. As a result, I often enjoyed that sweet spot of arriving about five minutes early for most appointments.

The fact that my early-but-not-too-early arrivals were pretty consistent was a great source of pride. It got to a point that I considered it my superpower.

Needless to say, on those rare occasions when Murphy’s Law (or weather, or construction, or traffic accidents) played against me and I showed up late for something, I was beyond apologetic that my superpower had failed me.

But then three life events happened that have totally messed up my superpower: the pandemic, moving to the country and retirement.


It wasn’t so much the periods at the beginning of the pandemic that were difficult to navigate. In fact, my rare visits outside of the home were a breeze. It was much like getting around on a Sunday or a national holiday given how little traffic there was.

It was when the province authorized the gradual reopening of businesses that predicting traffic patterns was getting increasingly difficult. Some days, traffic was flowing freely while on other days, I was mystified when I encountered traffic that reminded me of a Friday afternoon before a long weekend… in the middle of a Monday or Tuesday morning.

Some of it was commercial traffic. Some was just plain car traffic. Some was due to construction. The weird part was how different the traffic patterns could be from one day to the next.

That was when that old feeling of potential-tardiness-stress made its first visit in years.

Moving to the Country

I have no regrets whatsoever in moving to the country. However, the unpredictability of encountering agricultural vehicles of all kinds rolling along at 30 km/h in an 80 km/h zone was definitely an adjustment I had to make.

Some days when I was out and about, I wouldn’t see a single one, while on other days it was like they had checked with each other and were all out on the same day. Commuting times (and my accuracy for estimated times of arrival) suffered as a result.

However, when that happened, I rarely lost my cool. I realized that these vehicles were responsible in one way or another for helping feed the world. Could there be a more noble cause?

That being the case, I added more buffer to my commuting times, especially in the peak of planting or harvesting season.


After five decades of needing to be on time for school and work, it’s great to enjoy loosening the reigns of time a bit. Now, most light errands come with some flexibility with no real time sensitivity.

Plus, given the absence of milestones, due dates, and deadlines in my day-to-day scheduling, thankfully I have my mobile device to remind me of the day of the week. In some ways, I feel like I have lost my sense of sharpness and awareness of time, but not in a way that would have me checking with my doctor… yet.

But I know well enough when I need to watch the clock closely… like when I have an appointment that has a $100 fee for a missed or late appointment.

However, when you combine the pandemic, retirement and moving to the country, the three conspire to become my kryptonite in predicting traffic flows.


The fact that I am not making my way through city traffic five days per week and gathering vital intelligence to make the correct assumptions, I now have a huge a blind spot (metaphorically speaking). Without my daily observations of traffic patterns and the delays associated with each construction site, knowing how much extra time to allow becomes a challenge.

This is compounded by no longer seeing first-hand how the weather affects trends in traffic congestion. After so many years commuting in inclement weather, I knew whether an extra 5, 10, 15 or 30 minutes was needed to make it somewhere on time.

It seems that my assumptions are outdated for the growing city.

Similarly, given my relocation to rural life, I am still just learning the short cuts and alternate routes I can take to avoid traffic or to make up time, the way I could after 55 years in Ottawa.

For the moment, leaving earlier and adding a generous amount of buffer time seems like the best approach. In the event that I might show up too early, I keep a book or magazine under my car seat to read in the parking lot. Alternatively, I might have an errand in the neighbourhood to use any extra time constructively.

Either way, in the gradual transition to our new normal (in between waves of Covid-19), with more time on the roads, I look forward to regaining my superpower for predicting traffic patterns and hopefully, in consistently arriving five minutes early again.

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