I hate being late for anything. I’m one of those obnoxious people who shows up at least 15 minutes early for every appointment, social obligation, or event. I’ve learned over the years that this is something that makes other people, “normal” people, look at me with suspicion and annoyance. It makes me “uptight,” “rigid,” and “boring,” among other things. Well, late arrivals, it goes both ways.
As a perpetually punctual person, I have a tough time understanding the consistently tardy:
- I know it’s not usually by choice. I know that you can make every best effort and still end up late. That said, I don’t really understand it. I mean, if I’m consistently 20 minutes late for work every morning, I find somewhere that I can cut those 20 minutes out of my morning routine, and, failing that, I leave 20 minutes earlier. I have a hard time understanding why this works for me but not for other people.
- It’s inconsiderate. I’ll reiterate: I know it’s not always by choice. That said, when I’m the person in the group who always has to get the table at the bar and then sit there by myself for a half hour while everyone else trickles in to take their seat at the table they know will have already been secured for them, I get a little resentful. When I miss the previews at the movies for the fifth time because I’m the only one who doesn’t think a 7:15 movie means you’re pulling into the parking spot at the theater at 7:18, it makes me a little cranky. I realize I’ve created my own problem by being the one who’s always there to get the seats or buy the tickets, but I’m tired of missing out because everyone else is late.
- It gives the impression that you think your time is more important than everyone else’s. Lest anyone misunderstand, I’m not always early because I have nothing else to do. So I juggle my obligations, run my errands, do my daily tasks, and then go to my appointments, whether serious or social. Where I then sit and wait to be greeted much later by someone who tells me, “Oh, you wouldn’t believe how much I had to do today.” Yes, I would.
- The absolute worst, for me, is when people don’t even acknowledge that they’re late. You know we said 6 p.m., and you know I was there at or by 6 p.m. So when you stroll in at 6:38 p.m. and make no mention of the fact that you’re late, let alone an apology, it stings a little.
- I don’t think I should have to come up with elaborate schemes to accomodate someone else’s lateness. Yes, I could tell you that we’re meeting at 6 p.m. when I really mean 6:30 p.m., but that seems way more involved and complicated than actually just showing up on time. And no, I’m not going to call and remind you, because I know that annoys you as much as it annoys me.
I know this is one of those things where both sides are sort of fundamentally unable to understand the other. So latecomers, tell me what I’m missing. Let me know how I can help my tardy friends stop being late, or how I can let go of my resentment at being the one who’s always on time. Or even just let me know if this is one of those things I have to get used to, because no one cares if they’re on time anymore, and jeez, PoM, you’re such a boring Old, let it go!