I deal with a multitude of people every day, some who are almost always late, some who are on time, and some who arrive early. Events that recently occurred in my private life got me to thinking about time.
Why is it some people are notoriously late for everything? Is it their upbringing? Are they disorganized and can’t seem to gather themselves together to arrive in a timely manner? Do they think their time more valuable than others and allow themselves to become distracted? Is it simply an inbred trait they are born with?
I think it is all of the above. Each person is unique and anyone that is habitually late may have any of the above factors playing into it, or a combination of several. What does this do the the person who is habitually on time and going somewhere with a person who is habitually late? It drives them crazy! If you are an “on time” person and have to deal with an “always late” person on a regular basis, you have to learn to accept the fact that they are operating on their own time and not sweat the small stuff.
I was later told of a family arriving late at an event in which I was the center of attention. One couple and their four children arrived late for my wedding and followed my father and me down the aisle during the processional.
I know one couple where the woman was notoriously late for everything, including her own wedding. The couple was scheduled for a simple ceremony at the courthouse and all other weddings had been performed. Lucky for them the Judge agreed to go ahead and perform theirs, even though they were beyond the appointed time.
How is it some people are always on time, meaning on the dot or 10-15 minutes early? Have they been trained to be timely? Is it a birth trait? Are they by nature a courteous, considerate individual who value the time of others as much as their own?
Again, it can be one or all of the above. Each person is unique and their life experiences affect their habits. I consider on-time people reliable. You can count on them to be where they say they are going to be when they say they will be there. Do they ever run late? Of course, everyone does from time-to-time. The difference is that it the exception, not the rule.
I am generally an on time person to slightly early person depending on what it is I am doing. I work extremely close to home and generally arrive on-the-dot for that. Other activities such as meetings I tend to arrive about 10 minutes in advance. When did I develop this habit? When I was a child. In grade school I was at the building on the playground long before the bell rang to go in. In Junior High (middle school) I was generally at the school about 15-30 minutes in advance, by high school I was there about an hour in advance, hanging with a group of other early arrivals. We had authorization to enter the library through the librarians door prior to it officially being opened. When I went back to college as an adult I was at the school at least 30 minutes prior to the start of class. By arriving at work 10 minutes prior to my work day it was once commented on how early I was. No, not early, on time!
So what constitutes early? Early is well ahead of schedule. These are times when the “on time” person gets way ahead of themselves. It can throw a monkey wrench into the process, even if they are meeting up with a timely person, but it can also be fun. Just roll with the punches and enjoy the toss up in the routine. This happened to me twice in the past few months, both times with the same person. One positive thing can be said, when an “on time” person uses their brain to rely on, they are generally ahead of schedule, not late. So how early were they?
The first time was when we had plans to go to dinner and were meeting at my house. I gave them a time of 6:45 pm, which would allow me to leave work at 6:00, get home and do the normal “arrive home” things of bringing in the mail, putting away my lunch containers, then change my clothes, touch up make-up, etc. So how did this go? When I was approaching my driveway at 6:15 their car was also signaling to turn into my drive. They were 30 minutes early! The greeting was even funnier. They exited their vehicle and said “are you late?” and I responded “No, you’re early.”
Remember, don’t sweat the small stuff. They waited in my living room while I did what I needed to to get ready. We left the house and were driving down the road when they commented that I was right on how long it would take me to get ready…it was 6:45! Of course I was right, I’m an “on time” person.
Now when does early become “way ahead of themselves?” That happens when they forget to check the calendar for what day you are getting together. I had my day mapped out. I knew what day they were coming over and the night before planned to do some standard tidying of the house — make sure the dishwasher is unloaded and no dishes are in the sink, vacuum, check the bathroom and wipe down the mirror — the typical stuff to make a house look presentable. So how did that go?
I left work about 15 minutes late, so arrived home around 6:20. I threw my jacket over a chair and flipped through the mail. Made a phone call regarding some repair work being done and left a message. I was about to go run upstairs and take off my work clothes and throw on a pair of jeans and a top when my doorbell rang.
I opened the door to find my friend standing on the porch. Weather permitting I generally leave the door open when I know they are coming over, but I had it closed. Their greeting to me was “Did you forget?” I responded that no, they are early — as in 24 hours early! Oops!
So what happened? The evening proceeded as originally planned just a day early. The walls didn’t cave in because my house hadn’t been tidied up. I laughed after they left and wondered how early they will be the next time around. They get too far out there and I might not be home. At the same time, we live in such a planned/scheduled society, that a little twist to the plans now and then keeps life fun and spontaneous.
So what does all this mean? If you are always late, think about its affect on others around you. If you are normally on time, it is wonderful that you are conscientious and considerate. If you are early, as in well ahead of yourself, you are the type of person that keeps others on the edge of their seat and forces life to be spontaneous.
Life is a Melting Pot of personalities and habits. Whatever kind of person you are dealing with, go with the flow. Enjoy and have fun regardless of their arrival time.