{30/05/2012}   Being late

I have very limited patience for social lateness, my own and that of others.  Everyone’s time is precious to them and no one should have the arrogance to think their time is worth more.  I get increasingly enraged by lateness, particularly with the advent of mobile phones.  It is not ok to be late just because you’ve texted or called to say you’re going to be late.
There are of course exceptions, things way out of your control, that render you late.  I have a friend who was stuck in miles of traffic for a few hours on a bus on the M40 yesterday due to two major accidents; she was late for work, someone who I would not think of as generally, in fact ever, late.  I consider myself to be a punctual person and most of my lateness has been as a result of transport.  It makes me feel horrible, partly because of the lack of control but I think largely because I pride myself on not being late because of how much I hate others being late.  Plus the annoyance factor of leaving home with time to spare but still not arriving on time.
I think the longest I have waited for a friend was about an hour, by which time I was in a bad mood and should have cut my losses and left.  It didn’t help that I got regular text updates announcing she was almost there, thus obliging me to stay.  Had I not had a mobile phone with me, I would have left after half an hour.
There are some people who are always late, something I feel I can say is the opposite to me.  I did once give such a friend a time to meet which was 30 minutes earlier than I’d meant.  I was so paranoid and twitchy about being “late” that I arrived ten minutes earlier (ie 20 minutes late by the time I had given her).  She arrived fifteen minutes later.  I found that whole scenario almost as stressful as it meant I was upset about technically being late as well as that she was late.
I know I can be a festerer about such things, I really should let go, but maybe why should I?  If you make a plan, agree a time, why shouldn’t all parties expect to be meeting at that time?  There are some countries I could never survive in, where lateness is the norm.  I had invited some visiting overseas friends round for a picnic and a day out.  They were (I was warned it was in their culture to be late, but it still didn’t make it remotely ok even though I was waiting to meet them in my flat) more than two hours late.  I couldn’t work or socialise like that normally.
Knowing you are planning to meet a punctuality offender, I guess you can arrange to meet somewhere that you can happily and easily while away time.  I am increasingly considering telling people I won’t have my mobile with me in the hope that will eliminate the, “Oh it’s ok if we’re late, I can call her”.  I do find it kind of fascinating that we are all fairly consistent in our time keeping.  I pretty much know who of my friends will be late and I have long since learnt never to say, “Oh, any time after 7 is good”, because that makes a 9pm arrival not late whereas I had in mind between about 7 and 7.15!
I do not for a minute profess to be a perfect time keeper, I know I have kept people waiting, but in so doing I have felt really bad and I am pretty confident I have always had good reason if I’ve been late.  I guess we all expect everyone to keep to our standards, in all walks of life, but in reality we are very different, so I suppose I should just accept that and make sure I can keep myself entertained while waiting for certain people!


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