(Part 1 of a 2 Part Letter Series)
Dear Chronically Late People,
If I had to choose one pet peeve in life, it is when people are late. Not just once or twice, but consistently late. For everything. I learned early on in business school that 5 minutes early is on time, after that you are late. If I am not 5-15 minutes early for a meeting, an appointment, a reservation, I feel like I am late. I do not want people to wait on me. I do not want people to call me rude. I do not want people to… because if I were those people, I would.
If I were late for class in college, due to traffic I could not control, and no GPS back then to tell me how long it would take, I would turn around and head home. Walking into the classroom with class going on was not only awkward and embarrassing for me, but disruptive to the teacher and the students.
I say all of this before I express the harsh reality of my feelings, so you have a better understanding of why I am the way that I am. As I know your response to this letter will show why you are the way you are. Keep in mind, not to sound self-absorbed, but this open letter is about my thoughts, my feelings – but probably a whole bunch of other people’s, too.
Being on time suggests you are reliable, respectful, punctual, and credible. When you are late, it suggests you believe your time is more valuable than mine, you have no regard for others’ schedules, you are inconsiderate and only concerned about your own activities. (Just to reiterate, this is for the chronically late – not the onesie, twosies). Harsh sounding, I know. But hear me out. I do not want to believe that you do this on purpose. I want to believe that you just need to brush up on your time management skills. But sometimes I cannot help but think that you don’t realize that you are valuing your time over that of other people.
I have even tried to put myself in different shoes. Take myself out of the corporate America world where being on time is not an option. Are there any careers where being late would be ok?
– Doctors make a schedule and need you to be on time, so their other patients do not have to be put out. Continued “running behinds” will cause patients to choose other doctors. Being in healthcare, I can tell you one of the top 5 reasons people leave their doctor is because they have to wait in the waiting room for 15+ minutes after their scheduled appointment.
– On-time deliveries from a vendor could mean continued customer satisfaction. Continued late arrivals/deliveries could result in the loss of a customer.
– Teachers have to be on time. Students have to be on time. School schedules are rigid for a reason. To teach kids the importance of structure.
When a leader, coach, teacher, or vendor allows chronically late behavior, it creates the high potential for loss of respect for those that are in charge. I have noticed in some of the chronically late people that I know, are late to some things, but are never late bringing their kids to school, or a doctor’s appointment, or a work interview. To me, this shows that some things are important enough to make an effort but not other things.
Before you ream me in the comments, remember, this is my perspective. I am on the opposite spectrum, where I have been taught to be on time, if not early.
So, all I am asking is that you think of all the people waiting on your arrival, the teacher hoping to not have any disruptions to class, the coach not having to reexplain the workout, the counselor not having to be late for their next session and the remaining sessions after that. We all have busy lives. No one’s life is busier than the other – it’s all relative. No one is perfect. But showing up late, for everything, all the time is not cool!
What type of “latie” are you? Check out this amazing list in TIME magazine THE 14 WORST KINDS OF LATE PEOPLE
A Perpetually Punctual Person