I am horrified. I was ten minutes late to an interview last week. Ten minutes! Nothing says "I'm irresponsible and can't plan ahead" like being late to an interview.
Here's how it happened. The interview was scheduled for 2:00pm in downtown Portland: 14.3 miles/19 minutes away. I sensibly decided to leave at 1:10pm, giving myself a thirty-minute cushion in case of random afternoon traffic and stressful parking. I did plan ahead.
Wearing a professional dress, tights and heels, with my portfolio in hand, I got into my Jeep and headed towards Highway 14. I'd had a phone interview prior to this in-person interview, so I was feeling unnaturally calm: they at least liked me enough to take the time to meet me in person, and I already had a feel for their business and questions. I might even say I was enjoying the drive. It was a sunny day. I was listening to 95.5 really loudly. And it had been a while since I ventured into Portland.
Right before I hit the I-5 bridge exit to cross into Portland, traffic came to a stop. A complete, only-inching-forward-every-couple-of-minutes stop. I didn't panic quite yet. I still had plenty of time in my cushion, and I assumed the I-5 bridge was being raised or something. 20 minutes later, I had moved 100 yards. I started feeling a little anxious, but I finally got on the bridge at 1:35pm, passed the source-of-the-traffic accident, and traffic quickly picked up after crossing the bridge. I now had 25 minutes to drive and park. As long as I didn't hit more traffic, I was only about 10 minutes away and would still have 15 minutes to find parking and walk to the office. Cutting it a little close, but it was still doable.
Traffic was a dream from the I-5 bridge to downtown. My spirits lifted. At 1:45pm I drove by the office. Perfect timing. Now I just needed to park.
Street parking in Portland always confuses me, so I drove a few blocks to try to make sense of it. I passed a Star Park lot, and, after driving a few more blocks to let the stress of parallel parking thoroughly set in, I decided to turn around and pay for parking at the Star Park. I took a right. I planned to take the first right after that and circle the block to get back on the Star Park road.
I began searching for a right turn to circle the block. Half a mile passed. There was no right turn. I kept driving. 2 miles passed. 3 miles passed. No turns. No exits. There was a barrier separating me from oncoming traffic, so pulling a daredevil U-turn wasn't even an option. And then the road turned into Highway 26.
And then I began to panic.
It was 1:50pm, I was driving away from the office, and I had no idea how to back track. At this point, I was in a haze of disbelief and anxiety. How could my luck be so off that I took the one turn that led me miles away from my destination? It all seemed like it wasn't meant to be. I thought about driving home and pretending that none of this ever happened. Finally, after a harrowing 7 miles on this detour, I came to an exit. I took the exit to loop back to downtown-bound Highway 26. Luck was still not on my side: traffic was at a dead stop. As I inched along, I watched the clock tick closer and closer to 2:00pm. There was absolutely no way I was going to make it on time. I felt so defeated. I knew I needed to call ahead and tell them I was running late, but I just couldn't--it somehow signalled complete failure to call and admit a silly traffic mistake. I kept holding onto some crazy hope that in 3 minutes I would be able to cover 10 minutes of distance, and park, and walk into the office. Finally, at 1:58pm I texted my sister (While driving! Don't judge. Desperate times.), asking her to check my email for their phone number. Yes, I left my house without putting their number in my phone. Let's remember that I left my house 50 minutes before I needed to arrive--I didn't think I would need it. She (thankfully!) responded immediately, and I called to let them know I was running late.
Finally, I navigated my way back, parked in a 2-hour spot that I probably wasn't allowed to park in, ran two blocks (in a dress and heels), and walked into the office at 2:10pm.
The good news: I got the job. I started yesterday.