Cutting It Fine

On my travels this week I met a woman in an airport, and she looked decidedly unhappy.

At risk of making matters worse, but also being a reasonably good Samaritan, I asked why.

The answer was that she had missed her flight. 

And, as you can tell, this was no place to be to feel good about life.

Interestingly, her anger was directed largely at herself, for cutting her timings so fine.

Which resonated, as I so often see people taking delight in cutting it fine when an important deadline is looming, and I just don’t get it.

In those rare (and inadvisable) days when I was put in charge of producing programmes at the BBC, I used to get irritated with reporters who took a bizarre professional satisfaction in leaving it to the last moment to finish cutting a story.

There was often no need, but they somehow thought it made them look good.

Which it didn’t, to the producers, engineers, director, gallery assistant, technical manager, and indeed everyone else who was then put under unnecessary pressure.

Likewise with preparing for an important event. If you cut it fine, it’s far more likely you'll make a mess of it.

But if you start getting ready good and early, you can rehearse, polish, and perfect, which always makes for a better product.

Likewise, why get to the venue late when you can arrive early?

Familiarise yourself with the location, and start to feel comfortable.

Then there's the chance of something going wrong with the technology, a common problem in my experience.   

Where's the chance to sort it out if you’re up against a deadline breathing its fiery fumes in your face?

A few rehearsals for a presentation, just the same as a few rewrites for a story, always make it better.

But you don’t have that opportunity if you cut it too fine. 

Regarding my traveller, I helped point her in the direction of a hotel, and consoled her with the news that it had a fine bar with a good selection of wines.

There is always an upside in life, in my view. 

But sometimes, it’s better not to be put in the position of having to find it.