On Being Late

A semi-rant on people who come to meetings late. If everyone comes on time, the meeting starts and ends on time.

I once set a meeting with some colleagues at 2 PM. At 1:30, I was at the venue to set-up the necessary materials. Thirty minutes passed, I was still alone. If only I could impose a fine for being late!

Maybe they were all stuck in a congested traffic.

The problem is that heavy traffic in our place happens only during a fiesta. Or when there is a road accident. However, there was no fiesta that time. No accident either.

Another problem is that the venue was only a few yards away.

Maybe urgent matters just popped in.

Maybe their boss instantly demanded something urgent from them.

Maybe they will come an hour later.

Why am I defending them, anyway?

Despite the chaos in my head, I waited with bare teeth. I was tempted to rant about it on Facebook.

But what good would it give me? Will it make me feel better? Perhaps! I might get some likes and sympathy. Perhaps not! I might feel worse.

To divert my attention, I chose to be productive. I wrote a few sentences for my blog. I doodled. I read an ebook. I did everything I could to avoid the urge to rant.

Why do people think that their time is more precious than mine?

At 2:30, one attendee walked into the room.

“Better late than never,” he greeted. I was expecting at least 10!

Another 30 minutes passed and we both ran out of things to talk about. My sole attendee and I agreed to set another schedule for the meeting. With a heavy heart thinking that my weeks of preparation was put to waste, I closed my presentation.

As soon as I zipped the laptop bag, another person arrived.

“Am I late?” he said. Instead of saying what was on my mind, I just laughed it all off while listening to his excuses. “I’m so busy.” Unique excuse!

Despite what happened, I continue to be on time in every appointment I have. Despite experiencing the agony of waiting for nothing many times, I remain true to who I am. I love being on time. I hate being late. It has become a habit since I was little. I was among those students who would open the classroom, clean the chalkboard and buzz around to play while the grass in our schoolyard was still covered with morning dew.

So, why should you come to meetings on time?

It’s one simple way to respect people’s time: Everyone has the same 24 hours. If you are too busy with other matters in your life, which is totally acceptable, just be honest. Say no if you can’t make it. 

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Men are respectable only as they respect.”

When you’re late, you’re stealing someone’s time. And stealing someone’s times is a sign of disrespect.

2 thoughts on “On Being Late”

  1. I see no valid reason to be late , except if it is a matter of life and death. If one has committed to attend a meeting, then by all means keep it ! Otherwise, learn how to say No in the first place. Rudeness and impolite behaviour plus being inconsiderate should not be tolerated at all !

    What a shame if after reading this article, people won’t change ! Or does one still have a conscience?

    I recommend this good reading to everyone who should start learning to say No and to anyone to realize the meaning of Commitment.

    Thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts, Frank. It is sad that we exist in a generation of thieves !

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