2007-10-07

A Utah phenomenon?

Attending the Priesthood session on Saturday night, I witnessed a very irritating Utah phenomenon. Just after President Hinkley finished his closing remarks, but before the closing hymn or prayer, a number of men (some were fathers with sons) fled the chapel with the urgency you'd expect of someone with bladder control issues. I felt like booing or at least mocking their apparent incontinence, but that would have been juvenile and immature.

These guys didn't realize it, but they were making a subtle statement about what kind of people they really are. It's one of those very small things that I think is a surprisingly good indicator of a person's true character and priorities. When someone leaves early, it makes you wonder in what other ways they might "leave early". In life and particularly in relationships, there's no "leaving early." Those who cut corners and bail out before the end simply aren't successful.

It may seem a stretch to infer the nature of someone's character from such a simple act, but there's really no excuse for leaving early like that. What pressing business do you have on a Saturday evening? I don't care how bad you think traffic might be. I don't care what football game might be on TV, or that you're going to miss the beginning of Grey's Anatomy. Just don't leave early.

If you have a genuine NEED to leave early, you will probably know this in advance and should make arrangements to leave inconspicuously (ex: Sit near an exit and leave between acts.) Or, you should try apologize in advance (ex: "Please excuse Brother so-and-so, his daughter is singing in his home ward.")

In certain very rare circumstances (such as being morally offended) it is appropriate and justified to leave early, as you both making an important statement and defending your character. In most other situations, however, leaving early says that you are any combination of being insensitive, uncultured, pretentious, ignorant, self-absorbed, and just plain lazy.

I think we need a code. My suggestion is below.

Though shalt not leave before:
  • the closing prayer.
  • the mess is cleaned up.
  • the fire has died.
  • the last pitch.
  • the last shot.
  • the last pass.
  • the clock reads 0:00.
  • the credits roll.
  • the house lights come up.
  • the last encore.
  • the last curtain call.
  • the last kiss.
  • saying goodbye.
The list above is certainly not all-inclusive. And I should mention that great experiences are to be had by lingering -- don't be in such a hurry to take off when things are over. I remember deep conversations while credits roll, running into old friends where you least expect them, and really getting to know people while doing dishes.

Okay, my rant is over -- and I'll bet that no one who reads this is someone who leaves early. But I have to wonder, is it just me, or does "leaving early" seem much more common in Utah than elsewhere? (I've even seen it at the Conference Center, of all places.)