Why Be Punctual Or Late?
Oh dear, Oh dear, I shall be late! – Alice In Wonderland
A friend of mine sent me an e-mail recently in which he suggested that I “blog” on the importance of being on time.
He included the following story, which I think is an appropriate beginning for this post.
Retirement Dinner Lesson
A Priest was being honored at his retirement dinner after 25 years in the parish. A leading local politician and member of the congregation was chosen to make the presentation and to give a little speech at the dinner. However, he was delayed, so the Priest decided to say his own few words while they waited:
“I got my first impression of the parish from the first confession I heard here. I thought I had been assigned to a terrible place. The very first person who entered my confessional told me he had stolen a television set and, when questioned by the police, was able to lie his way out of it. He had stolen money from his parents, embezzled from his employer, had an affair with his boss’s wife, taken illegal drugs, and did horrible things to close relatives. I was appalled. But as the days went on I learned that my people were not all like that and I had, indeed, come to a fine parish full of good and loving people”…..
Just as the Priest finished his talk, the politician arrived full of apologies at being late. He immediately began to make the presentation and gave his talk:
“I’ll never forget the first day our parish Priest arrived,” said the politician. “In fact, I had the honor of being the first person to go to him for confession.”
Moral: Never, Never, Never Be Late
Why are some people regularly late for almost every scheduled appointment they have? You probably know, like I do, someone who has a reputation of showing up late for everything. Does such a person do it on purpose? Does such a person realize what s/he is doing?
My friend said that he thinks arrogance is what makes people late. Arrogance, because they feel they are important enough to waste the time of punctual people while they are late. He is not alone in thinking that arrogance plays a role in people who are habitually late. Toni Bowers, of TechRepublic, mentions it as one of the reasons late people are late. Having stated that, I suspect there is even more to it than the “undesirable” trait of arrogance.
Sometimes, there seems to be a cultural element to tardy behavior. Edward T. Hall, an anthropologist, made some interesting discoveries of key cultural factors, some of which speak directly to our tardiness issue. Not to oversimplify it, but he stated that there are at least two different ways that western cultures have paid attention to time. One “group” thinks about when things must be achieved and another thinks about what will be achieved. Our habitually tardy person might well fit into the latter group whereas, those of us who are concerned about “when” things must be achieved, are more apt to be punctual. Uhmmmm….
OK, so what are we to do? What good is it for people to be tardy? How does it help to be tardy? Even, if it has cultural factors as “justification,” how does that help?
HELP! I can’t think of a question that has a reasonable answer in favor of tardiness.
What do you think?