I had a meeting at 6:00 p.m. in the city last night. It was an parent orientation for a trip J will be taking in a few weeks, and according to the reminder email we were to arrive early because there was a security protocol through which we had to pass on the way into the building.
In order for me to have enough time to (potentially) sit in rush hour traffic and then park and then arrive a few minutes early to an activity in the city that begins at 6:00, I know I need to leave my western suburban driveway no later than 4:00.
I did that yesterday, and I arrived before 5:45. I checked in downstairs and took the elevator up to the conference room where the meeting would be held. I had no clue how many people were expected but by 6:00 the room seemed to be filling up pretty well.
At 6:00 the orientation leader said that we were going to wait ten minutes or so before starting because people were still arriving downstairs and going through security. She didn’t begin until 6:15.
This kind of thing infuriates me.
It seems to be how things go these days. People are late all the time. It happened even after we received that email asking that we arrive early. I realize that she was trying to be nice and give the latecomers every opportunity to catch as much information as they could. But what about those of us who planned our evening around arriving when we were asked to arrive? She should have started on time.
Whenever this happens, I feel like I’m being punished. My issue with others’ lateness is two-fold. First, time is very important to me. Ask those who know me the best: I am capable of scheduling just about anything down to the minute because I hate wasting time. Actually, it’s both that I hate wasting time and I love making the most of time. Second, when someone’s tardiness affects others it’s just plain rude and disrespectful, full stop.
(I know that in the case of a city activity, working until a certain time and then having to experience rush hour traffic is a bad combination, but there were more than just a few people casually rolling in late.)
One woman who came in late took some time during the Q & A session at the end of the meeting to ask about two things that had been covered in depth before she arrived, so not only did those of us who were on time have to sit and wait fifteen minutes longer for the meeting to begin, but we also had to hear some information twice. So annoying.
I will pause for a moment to say that obviously this is my blog and this is my opinion. I’m certainly not perfect (not by a long shot!) and I know for a fact that I do things all the time that make others want to scratch my eyes out. That said, lateness is one of my biggest pet peeves in life, so I’m writing about it.
There was a little discussion on Facebook last night when I posted about the late start. I have a couple of friends who explained that they’re always late and described their routines. (By the way, I have no personal beef with these friends and I’m laughing thinking about their faces as they read this but I’m only using them as an example.)
I still don’t get it. I believe that people who are chronically late somehow rationalize that they’re actually on time by their own standards, like, “Whew, usually I’m twenty minutes late but today I was only fifteen minutes late so I did really well!” If that lateness affected someone else, it’s rude. If it only affected you—I don’t know, late for a workout? Late for something that starts whether you’re there or not?—I have no problem with it.
I also realize that sometimes things that are out of our control happen to cause us to be late. I’m not talking about those circumstances.
I believe that in this digital age when we have more tools available than ever whose primary existence is to help us stay organized (and on time), lateness shouldn’t be as much of a problem as it is. I realize I’m taking a hard line here. What do you think about tardiness? Let’s discuss it.