Ten minutes from everywhere

Allison Tait author
Posted on July 21, 2010

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the closer a person lives to a destination, the later they will be for any appointment at said destination. The person who lives, for example, over the back fence of the primary school will undoubtedly be late for school every day. You can ask pretty much any member of my family to back me up on this one. We shared a fence with our primary school and yet, every single day, every single one of us would slither through our back gate at 9.01am.

In The Big Smoke, I would invariably allow an hour to get everywhere. To get the 8km from my front door to the office took one hour. Driving from my house to Sister B’s eyrie in the north took one hour. Actually, driving anywhere took one hour.

Now that I’m living a simpler life, I tend to cut things a bit finer. I blame it on the Back Fence Effect. I live not far from anywhere, so therefore it should take me no time at all to get there. I am often heard to say ‘it’s only a 10-minute [insert drive/walk]’.

Hence, I arrive at school, screeching in (whether by car or by pram) at 8.46am (school starts at 8.45am). It doesn’t matter what time I wake up. It doesn’t matter how organised I am. It doesn’t matter if I’ve done a whole week’s ironing in advance, made mini-quiches to pop into lunchboxes and made Mr6 sleep in his uniform. We still arrive to hear the fading peals of the bell.

The hysterical rush to arrive at school on time is bettered only by the chaos involved in getting to Little Ninjas by 4pm. We go twice a week. You think I would have worked out how far away it is by now. And yet, I am stuck firmly with the notion that 15 minutes is enough time.

Invariably, we leave the house at 3.45pm – only to discover that the all-important Belt has been left on the sofa. Or that Mr3 has an, ahem, emergency. Or that I can’t find the keys (today’s issue) despite having them in my hand not 30 minutes before.

You would think, wouldn’t you, that I would have worked out by now that leaving at 3.40pm would solve all these issues and have us at Ninjas in a much more Zen frame of mind – ready to start fighting.

In my heart of hearts, I know this is the sensible option. But it will never happen. We live so close, you see. Just 10 minutes’ drive, really


  1. Lucy

    Oh Al. I am a little pathalogical about being late. I fear it with my life. My screeching reaches fever pitch if I feel like we might be one minute later than I like…

    I was permanantly alte as a child. My parents were happily and charminly late for everthing and as a result, so was I. I have rebelled against that…I have not been late for anything since about 1985.

    I feel like such a Polyanna now…

  2. sharpestpencil

    I am anal about everything especially time. But in my heart of hearts I believe I can be most places in 15 minutes. No wonder I lost my licence…..

  3. Katrina

    I was late picking the kids up from school today. (It’s only ten minutes away.) They weren’t especially impressed with my apology, “Sorry. I was writing.”

  4. So Now What?

    Hahaha. Yes. I used to pride myself on being one of those always early people. Scoff at the late ones. Oh how the tides have turned.

    10yo constantly stressed as she is either bang on the bell or a little after it. I jinxed myself by being a total smug beatch xxxx

  5. Jodie at Mummy Mayhem

    We are very close to school here – a 2 minute walk on the same side of the street, and yet most days we are running in the gate just seconds before (or after) the bell rings.

  6. Kylie L

    Both at home in Melb and here in Broome we live exactly three houses from the school. Not sure how that happened, but I love it… though as a result I never even LOOK at my watch in the afternoon and just let the school bell alert me to the fact that I need to stop typing and start running like hell so I’m not the last mum there AGAIN. A little proximity is a dangerous thing.

  7. Joli

    It’s true the closer you live… the later you will be. We have recently moved so now instead of being two blocks from our local high school my daughters get picked up & dropped off by the bus from the corner of our street (and as we live on the corner they do not have to walk very far!!)… it has been fantastic….. they know that if they miss the bus I will not be happy… they are happy because they don’t have to walk a km to school because you know the bags are too heavy they had to do pe etc etc and can’t i please pick them up. I could start on the well in my day we had 8 periods a day – not the measly four you have… (but then again that makes every period they have a double and double math was always torture for me)…. sorry rambling now… i’m just filled with joy that so far this term i have not had to write a late note…. yes i know it’s only week 1 i’m just so hoping that the bubble doesnt burst!!!

  8. Mel - The Organic Mamas

    we are kindred spirits !!! it was just half an hour ago (after said screeching of the brakes outside of school) that my 3 year old said – “we are always late, aren’t we mum?” and my reply ?? “yeap, and you better get used to it”. Thanks for a great laugh this morning!

  9. Maxabella

    Do you remember how stressed I used to get when we were all running late in the mornings… My true nature is obviously extremely punctual because even with 3 kids to get to three places all before 8am I am rarely late. That’s how committed I am to avoiding the dreaded late feeling. I believe it could border on the pathological…

  10. Shauna

    Oh this is me. On the days I dont have work/uni poor old Niamh gets dropped off at school well after 9am. I appear to be better time managed when I have way too much to do.

  11. Deer Baby

    My son was only saying the other day how he wished we lived in a flat opposite school so he could leave the house at 8.54 – the bell goes at 8.55.

    I agree with Kallie above – you can’t factor in those pesky kids. One’s always having a little emergency, as you politely put it, the other suddenly remembers he needs a model made from corrugated paper and shavings before we’re due to head out. Me? I’m always primed to go. Although I may be checking twitter at 8.20 some mornings….

  12. Kallie

    There’s nowhere in town that’s more than 10 minutes away & if the kids are involved I will be late, just as you are… If it’s only me, I will be on time or early. I think kids are the main problem 😉

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