We agreed 10.30. It’s 10.34. PREPARE TO FEEL MY WRATH

When I first met my boyfriend, he was always late. Sometimes it would be by 10 minutes, sometimes by 45. There were times when he was over an hour! Each time, I would be sitting waiting, absolutely fuming. It’s part of my nature to stop what I’m doing so that I’m ready for when someone arrive to see me.

When he would eventually arrive, I would ask him why he was late. He was always caught up in doing something else. It turned out that, usually, that something else was talking to someone else. No one in particular: he is just a very chatty man with no concept of time. Anyone who was willing to talk to him, he would delve deep into conversation with.

To begin with, he couldn’t understand why I would get to upset about it. “I’m always late,” he would say. “That’s who I am,” he would say. “What’s the big problem?” he would say. To him, it was how he lived his life. His family are usually late to things. They are used to him being late so they have learned to accommodate this. I am the person who aims to turn up at a meeting 15 minutes early but leaves an additional 15 minutes early from home to make sure I will still be early if I get lost (my sense of direction is awful and getting lost is one of the few excuses for tardiness I accept readily). I would not budge on this.

After many discussions about his punctuality and almost three years together, this isn’t an issue for us anymore. He makes a point of being on time (and occasionally early!) to meet me because he knows that it’s important to me and I don’t stress out about him being up to fifteen minutes late and I can be more flexible with time. If one of us is very late to meet the other, there is the acknowledgement the other one is upset and that the offender is sorry.

The whole point of me telling you this story is, now that I am dealing with more clients at face to face meetings now, I find that my boyfriend wasn’t the only one with a time-keeping problem. In fact, it’s hard to remember when the last time I had a meeting where all of the participants had arrived on time.

The problem with my boyfriend wasn’t that he was late but that I was being forced to wait on him whilst he did something else. To me, I think it’s disrespectful to keep people waiting on you. After all, I have things I need/want to do, but I’m not doing those things because we agreed to meet at this time. I think frequent lateness implies that you may think your time is more valuable than theirs or even that you don’t think very highly of them in general. That may be too cynical – it may be the case that the late person check the time a lot so they aren’t doing it on purpose. But for me, if you know you have somewhere to be at a certain time, why aren’t you keeping an eye on the clock?

In the business world, it’s unprofessional. People have got better things to do than to wait twenty minutes for you to turn up to a meeting. In your personal life, it is plain disrespectful.

There are occasions when you will be late. I get that. Last year I could never get my timing right for picking up various people for an exercise class which meant I was sometimes up to ten minutes late to pick them up. Sometimes someone has done my boyfriend a big favour and it would be rude to snub them to get to me quicker. But if it happens a lot, it’s not an accident.

Sometimes I wonder if I am thinking too much into this and I am causing myself unnecessary upset. On the other hand, my anger over lateness is an instant emotional response and has been for years rather than reading too deep into something that isn’t there.

What do you think? Am I being crazy or do you get annoyed about lateness as well?

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6 comments

  1. I am the type of person that is generally 5 minutes late to things. Not out of disrespect to the person I’m meeting, but because I feel so much better about life when I can get “one more thing done” before my time is occupied with another individual. But that’s in my personal life. When it comes to business meetings, etc., I am on time. I agree with you – to keep another waiting in a business context implies that your time is more valuable than the other person’s. And that’s just plain rude.

    • Five minutes late I can handle. There are times when I push the time to finish things to do get a little bit more done. It’s the constant twenty minutes that drives me mad.
      At work it drives me nuts! It’s bizarre when people don’t acknowledge it either.

  2. You’re not alone! In fact I read an article a while ago that mirrored your thoughts – that it’s terribly bad manners to be repeatedly late. It’s true, time is precious to everyone whether it’s time to be productive or to relax.Therefore wasting someone else’s time frivolously is disrespectful to them.

    That said, I don’t think most people are really late because they don’t care that they’re wasting your time. I’m convinced that many people with perfectly good intentions simply have brains wired to be late. I am generally on time but only because I rush and run to get there. I’m an insomniac whose head’s a disheveled creative mess. I have zero concept of time, so badly so that I’ll think I’ve been checking the time at regular intervals – say every ten minutes – but my actual checking will be between 5 minute intervals and half an hour. It’s difficult to keep track of time when it always seems to get away from you…
    I’m working on it. I am rarely late but I’m not yet in the practice of being habitually early… always there by the skin of my teeth with five minutes to spare!

    • I agree that people don’t intentionally mean to waste your time but by being repeatedly late you do and by not changing your behaviours, it becomes disrespectful and rude.

      People are late sometimes and that’s fine. My problem is with frequently late people and having to wait on them.

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