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.)


  1. Amen to that! I'm with you on leaving church early...especially the conference center. I would feel stupid getting up and leaving early knowing that the prophet watched me do it...not to mention disrespectful to the apostles we sustain! Good insight!

  2. I didn't mean to get so preachy. [sheepishly shrugs]

  3. Agreed. I love the people I've met and gotten to know better by sticking around to clean up after ward activities. People who leave early miss out.

  4. So... I have a friend who gets terribly annoyed at this same phenomenon at priesthood session. One time in particular, a group of men who had been sitting right in front of him got up to leave before the prayer. My friend successfully kept his cool and held his tongue. Once the final "amen" was said he and his father and brothers left and headed to the nearest DQ for some ice cream (I know it's a wide-spread tradition). This fellow who left before the prayer just happened to be directly in front of my friend in line. "I bet you're glad you skipped out before the prayer so you could make it that much closer to the front of the line" my friend mumbled under his breath… To make this already too long story a little shorter, there was almost a brawl at the local DQ.

  5. good call- its best to assume you understand why people are leaving early and condemn them for it. i wouldnt even try to consider anything else that could make them leave early- just keep condemning them.

    seems to me like someone has to make a little better use of their time while at the priesthood meetings.

    keep thinking you are better than everyone else and you will go far.

  6. Jerz, I reposted your comment sans profanity since you do make a valid point: people do frequently have a reason for leaving early...and you're also right, it is presumptuous to assume anything when people leave early. But, at the same time, do you think that 10-20 people would always need to leave right before the closing hymn/prayer? Statistically the number seems too large and the circumstances too coincidental, though I will fully concede (and I think I did) that extrapolating a person's character from leaving PH early is a bit of a stretch.

    One of the points I wanted to make is that if you are in a position where you need to leave early, which I totally understand may happen, there are ways to do it that are inconspicuous and not disruptive, whether it's at the Priesthood session or elsewhere. After all, if the people had left without being disruptive, then this post wouldn't exist. In general, people walking in front of you, the click of shoes on the hardwood gym floor and the clank of doors shutting, are all hard to ignore in a quiet stake center.

    I used to teach college courses, and I very much appreciated it when students would tell me before class that they were going to need to leave early. Have you also noticed that when a Church speaker has to leave early, like a high councilman or something, the person conducting always explains that the speaker will be leaving the pulpit before the end of the meeting?

    To me it comes down to issues of courtesy and "finishing".



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