The Art of Being On Time
"Arriving late is a way of saying that your own time is more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you." - Karen Joy Fowler
#Message. Don't get your panties in a bunch (or do, idc) but there is something to be said for punctuality that I don't think enough people say. It's truly a lost art... or maybe it was never found? I can't call it. But as the [mostly] punctual friend, I've spent more hours waiting for people than I can count. And that is both frustrating and annoying.
Backstory: When I was a young, dependent, unlicensed, adolescent child, I was perpetually late for most events that my mom was responsible for getting me to. It was embarrassing most times and the only thing that helped ease the embarrassment was that each time I was late, I could depend on my friend Courtney (hey girl!) to be significantly later. I used to feel an immense sense of frustration that she (my mom) would wait until the very last hour to decide to clean the entire house or run a seemingly unimportant errand before dropping me off to wherever I needed to be. I think that's what created the spark. I WILL NOT BE UNTIMELY LIKE MY MOTHER, I repeated to myself most days. Don't get me wrong, I love my mom, but for having been in the military half of her life, I just cannot wrap my mind around her lack of punctuality.
There are maybe two things that are acceptable and, in most cases expected, to be late to. One of them is a party and the second, I'm still thinking about. As a hostess, I understand the stress that is sometimes accompanied with getting things set up before your guests arrive. That said, it is courteous that you do not arrive earlier than the time requested. In general, a 15-minute window is acceptable.
But happy hour? Brunch or dinner? Going out, meeting up, etc.? Nah, homie. There are few appropriate excuses.
Person A: I am so sorry I am late. I was stuck in traffic.
Person B: No kidding. Cause, ya know, I chartered a plane to get here!
To all my late friends (I have a lot of you lol), I love yall, but it's easy to feel like that love (or in other instances, respect) is not reciprocated when something as precious as time is not prioritized. And that extends to acquaintances, business meetings, etc.
Here are some ways to ensure you're on time that have been tried and true for me:
- Know yourself/your routine. You should know or have a general idea of how long it takes you to get ready from start to finish. If that process includes showering, brushing teeth, finding an appropriate outfit, ironing, hair, makeup, perfume spraying, etc., know how long it takes. How does one do that? Time it. Simply consider all the things you need to do, and time yourself, multiple times, so you have an idea of the average amount of time it takes YOU to complete YOUR routine.
- Plan your route. Know how long it takes to get to your destination. With all of the gadgets and apps at your disposal, this should be seamless. If from point A to point B takes roughly 31 minutes, factor in the time it takes you to get ready, and add 35-40 minutes for travel.
- Consider extenuating circumstances. Shit happens. People can't drive and cause accidents. Parking sucks and you have to drive around in 5 circles to find a spot. Understandable. However, that's another factor you need to add in. In general, I add in about 10 minutes for ICSH (in case shit happens). Also Waze. Because if you're not using Waze to navigate your life, we need to talk.
To say I'm never tardy would be a lie. However, even when I'm running 5 minutes behind, my stress and anxiety is through. the. roof. Why would I constantly put myself through that pressure? The absolute worst is when the occasional bit of tardiness strikes, and anxiety and stress consume me, I get to my destination and still have to wait for person A. <insert red-faced angry emoji here>.
At face value, tardiness is a habit. A very bad habit. It's not in your chemical makeup. It's not inherited. It's a habit. And like all habits, it's breakable. There's still hope. You've just got to consider time as a valuable asset and learn to be more appreciative and thus respectful of it (and other people's). People shouldn't have to try to force themselves to build a bad habit of tardiness to accommodate yours.
Simply consider the burden of being waited on and do whatever you can to eliminate it. Don't commit to what you can't deliver. Aim to arrive 10 minutes early...and build that 10 minutes into your drive and ICSH time.
I hope I didn't ruffle feathers, but I cannot imagine I'm alone in this sentiment. What are your thoughts on punctuality? Is it more important in certain situations (like work or doctor's appointments), but not as important when meeting with friends or co-workers (hint: the answer is hell no)? Let me know.