BORN TO BE A HALF HOUR LATE
Lateness by definition is someone who arrives after the expected time, and a chronic latecomer is someone who continually arrives late. If you have ever waited for someone who is persistently late, and by late, I mean at least 15-30 minutes late, then you understand how maddening it can be. In today’s world, self-importance seems to have replaced common courtesy and consideration for others. What some people fail to realize is that it is never ok to be consistently late.
Time is one of our most valuable commodities and these days we seem to have previous little of it. One of my friends is an abuser of time, or let me rephrase that, one of my friends is an abuser of my time and as we continue, I will explain why it is my fault. This friend, whom shall remain nameless, although I would like to give her credit since after all she is my inspiration for this article, but I digress. My friend claims, without much conviction, that she hates being late, but ironically it is something she is extremely good at; no matter what time we plan to meet she invariably shows up 30 minutes late with the excuse that she is “so busy” or “there is just not enough time in the day” to get done all that she has on her plate. Her famous line is, “No one is busier than me”. The first time she said it, I thought she was kidding but since she has repeated ad nauseam, I have come to realize that she actually believes this to be true. She also feels that being early is rude which I find quite humorous. I understand that typically people do not like to be the first to arrive, but attention-getters like my friend, love to be the last to arrive; “fashionably late” to coin a phrase. I reminded her that she has NEVER been ‘early’ in the 25 years that I have known her and that I while I do not expect her to be early, I do expect her to be on time. Five minutes late, even ten but thirty minutes late is egregiously late, and let’s face it, we all know at least 30 minutes in advance if we are going to be 30 minutes late but what absolutely fascinates me, or should I use the other “F” word, what absolutely frustrates me is when she calls or texts at the exact time that we are supposed to meet to say she is going to be a half hour late, and then has the audacity to become indignant if I don’t act understanding. She gets defensive and spews one of her “bumper sticker” remarks, “Better late than never”, “I can’t adult today” or “Put on your big girl panties and get over it”. That’s when I can feel the hair on the back of my neck stand at attention. I literally have to take a deep breath and bite my tongue. On those rare occasions when she is on time, she makes a huge deal about it and expects me to praise her.
Often times during the planning stages of an event or a particular occasion, she feels compelled to tell our group to be sure they aren’t late, or I will be upset as if this is a problem that I have. My favorite excuse is when she storms in frantic and frazzled blaming her lateness on traffic. We live in Las Vegas, a city that literally attracts millions of visitors each year, there is always traffic and traffic always has to be factored into the equation. She sloughs off her compulsion for being late and says that I have “a passion for punctuality and it’s super annoying.” And I say, “You are punctually-challenged and that is even more annoying.” This is usually followed by an exasperating eye roll that validates her annoyance. Someone, please tell me why we are still friends”?
People who have a tendency for tardiness are completely oblivious to the fact that they are inconveniencing others, or they simply do not care. They think it’s no big deal or laugh it off when they arrive late, but it is a big deal and it most definitely is not funny, especially to those of us who make it a point to arrive on time. I understand that sometimes life gets in the way and there are exceptions due to unavoidable circumstances, getting stuck behind an accident, running into road construction, vehicle issues like a flat tire; these are acts of God so to speak, unavoidable and excusable reasons for lateness but for those who do not know how to manage their time, or are not even cognizant of the time, and are late for the sake of being late, it is selfish, inconsiderate and insulting. To be on the receiving end of someone who is incessantly late feels like a personal attack because it shows a lack of respect! The ultimate contradiction is that you cannot respect someone and disrespect their time.
Perhaps people like my friend are procrastinators, at the time they accepted the invitation they thought it sounded like a good idea but when the day arrives, they wish they hadn’t so they putz around until they are running late, or they are the type of people who cannot say no to anything because they don’t want to risk hurting someone’s feelings. Maybe they are over-achievers and they set unrealistic expectations for themselves by overscheduling their day but this becomes a double-edged sword when they feel overwhelmed at overloading their proverbial plate. My friend says she is the “ultimate multi-tasker” and there is nothing she can’t handle but that begs the question, how do multi-taskers ever accomplish anything? Multi-tasking is a delusion, a myth; it’s pointless and counter-productive and trying to be a multi-tasker obviously does not work especially in my friend’s case.
As we all know, it is difficult to break a bad habit, but chronic lateness is more than a bad habit, it is a pattern of behavior and how some people might define their “normal” or their “reality” but recurrent lateness sends a message, either deliberately or unconsciously, that you are not a priority in their lives, that their time is much more valuable than yours, and what they have going on in their lives is more important than you. But in actuality, who is to blame; like me, if you continually allow this to happen, then you send a message back that says their behavior is acceptable.
There may be dozens of complicated or simple reasons for lateness; you can’t find anything to wear, you’re having a bad hair day, the line at Starbucks was longer than usual or a unicorn was blocking the road. Or there may be more deep-rooted serious psychological issues, perhaps it is an addiction much like shopping and gambling; or it could be commitment issues, a lack of self-discipline, perhaps you are narcissistic control-freak with a strong sense of entitlement and a holier than thou attitude, or you are an adrenaline junkie who thrives off the pressure of having to be some place at a specific time. Maybe you are just ornery by nature or a prankster, or you have a medical condition like you’re ADHD or OCD or you’re an ASS but since I am neither a doctor nor a therapist, I fail to understand why people put themselves and others through this unnecessary stress. It seems a bit crazy and in fact, Scientist Tim Urban has gone so far as to say that “lateness is a sign of insanity”…https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3625001/Chronic-tardiness-sign-insanity-scientists-claim.html.
Repetitive lateness has consequences, it can destroy plans, end friendships, ruin relationships and get you fired. So how can this annoying situation be rectified, perhaps you stop including these latecomers in future events or tell them the start time is 30 minutes earlier, or have the group arrive 30 minutes late, but all this seems ridiculous, extreme and unnecessary. I love my friend’s company, she is bright and witty, and she has a big heart. But there is always a limit to someone’s patience, so before you deliberately or unconsciously plan to be unpunctual, remember it is never too late to start being on time.