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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Late or early?

Are you someone who is chronically late? Or are you someone who always arrives on time or even early?


We all know those annoying people who insist on rushing out of the house because they're obsessed with punctuality. Similarly, we all know those annoying people who are chronically late for any and all appointments.

So what gives? What makes someone obsessively punctual or habitually tardy?

A recent article in The Guardian entitled "Beat the Clock: The Surprising Psychology Behind Being Perpetually Late" didn't offer much by way of explanation. "There are probably as many reasons for unpunctuality as there are habitually late people," the article begins, and covers such possible motives as early childhood training, passive-aggression, a feeling of unworthiness, a reluctance to change gears, a sunny and optimistic disposition, or a sociable nature that enjoys chatting with anyone with whom they cross paths (thus making them late).

Those who are rigidly punctual in their behavior have been termed the "uptighterati" and "schedule obsessives." Such people are often counseled to slow down, dude. The author of this article describes herself "as an early person with my own set of neuroses" for whom being late would make her "ill with anxiety."


In another article (by a different author), the writer found herself in the casual professional atmosphere of Brazil, where the concept of timeliness was far more fluid. This came as a culture shock in more ways than one. "To members of the Uptighterati, like me, it’s almost impossible not to interpret the Brazilian attitude to time as a form of laxness, however enviable. But that judgment masks an unexamined assumption that punctuality is obviously the only meaningful temporal standard, which different cultures observe or ignore to differing degrees."

This author says "there’s something odd about the punctuality principle, which involves first mentally conjuring an abstract timeline, then trying to make reality conform to it. The alternative – often mistaken for slacking – is what scholars call 'task orientation' ... in which the rhythms of life emerge from life’s activities themselves. It’s less that Brazilians are failing to abide by a timetable, than that they’re successfully abiding by something else."

Here in the Lewis household, we tend to fall on the side of the "uptighterati" spectrum -- but that's only if we have someplace to go, which we often don't. When we're at home, working at our own pace and our own schedule, we're definitely in the laid-back camp.

Perhaps that's why I've always liked the old story about the successful businessman, vacationing in a foreign fishing village, who starts lecturing a younger local man on the secret of success. Instead of whiling his life away fishing and drinking and playing music with his friends -- the businessman says -- he should expand his fishing operation, hire employees, make millions, then eventually retire‚ so he can spend his days fishing, drinking and playing music with friends.

So what end of the spectrum do you hit? Are you early or late? And what's your logic/reasoning/motive behind it?

26 comments:

  1. I've always lived by the code that punctual people are responsible. Late people are rude, inconsiderate, disrespectful and disorganized. Obsessively early people are paranoid and anal retentive. Since I'm always right, there's no room for argument! - lol

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    1. Ditto, especially inconsiderate of others time.

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  2. I carried before I retired a pocket watch like yours as I don't like wrist watches. One noon I went to the Down Towner Bar in Houghton for lunch and sat at the bar with my buddies. It was Christmas Break at Michigan Tech and some students came in and sat beside me. When I was done eating and yacking I pulled out my watch to check the time and the student, old enough to drink, sitting next to me wanted to see it as he had never seen one up close before. After commenting on it and asking what that knob on top was for he asked me what that X and V and I meant on the face of a watch and old clocks. ---ken

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    1. That is sad that a college student does not know simple things.

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    2. 2 Millennials dial a rotary phone

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OADXNGnJok

      Montana Guy

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  3. I aim to be on time. If not, there was something more important. Why define it by someone elses's expectation?

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  4. Here's the way I think about it.

    I aim to be five minutes early to meetings (business, church, etc.) and on the dot to personal meetings or visiting someone's home.

    To be early at someone's home is rude because they may not be ready for you.

    To be late to a meeting is rude because it is stealing the time of the other people involved.

    My two cents. Your mileage may vary.

    (And hi to coyoteken48 from a fellow Michigander just north of Grand Rapids!)

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    1. Hi back to you Sallie. Up here that 1 to 3 inches of snow that was predicted turned into 11" . So that was today.

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  5. I'm always early, and if I arrive 'on time' I consider that arriving late.

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    1. That was what my teenage daughter always said until she got married and had children!

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  6. I never arrive at someone's home more than five minutes before the appointed time. It is rude to assume you are welcome earlier. As for meetings, classes, church or dinners at church, I am never late. That would presume I am more important than others are. I follow the norms of my culture.

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  7. Both parents, especially Dad, were big on punctuality as part of good manners training for their tots. I had a friend who was perennially twenty minutes late, even down the aisle at her own wedding (her groom turned to her during the ‘bride and groom would like to say a few words to each other’ section and said “______, why were you late?”). I used to get a little ticked at people who were late to meetings all the time because it made them look busy��. And I always, always wear a watch-never picked up the habit of using my phone for a clock. Much easier to twist my wrist than look for my phone and pick it up.

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  8. Folks who habitually arrive late tend to lead chaotic lives. There is enough stress in life without self-induced stress.
    Montana Guy

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  9. I think it's wise to live within your culture's or subculture's norms. That's a good way to go about accomplishing this: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18 :)

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  10. My credo is to be on time; a little early if possible. Reason being; if they're on time and waiting for me, I'm wasting their time. And yes, I am annoyed when someone tells me that they'll be there at, say 10:00 AM, and show up a half hour late. I know a person who told me "I'll get there when I get there. If the other person wants to see me that bad, they'll wait. I find that incredibly selfish...

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  11. I have always tried to be on time or early. I feel it is just common courtesy. I do admit that I get unhappy when I get to a Dr appointment on time or early and then have to wait for the Dr. to see me.

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  12. When I was in the military my boss would always say that if you weren't 15 minutes early that you were late. And he meant it and would hand out punishment to those who were not early. I might add that we were required to be at work 30 minutes before shift change so the 15 minutes early was in addition to being at work half an hour before shift change. Just so it's clear the half hour was spent working with or talking to the shift we were replacing so that we knew what was going on so it made perfect sense.

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  13. For a party, 5-10 min late. Unless you are dropped off early and it's obvious that your not going to stand out on the sidewalk, until you are fashionably late. If early I always ask to be put to work.
    For a business meeting: I arrive to the location a bit early, and walk in on the dot.
    To meet with friends: 5 min. early, start scouting a table, or spot.
    For an activity at a pre-arranged time: on the dot.
    For work: On the dot.

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  14. I vote go with the culture at work. I have worked for companies where on time was on time, end of story. I have worked at other places where the expectation is you would be in a chair 10-15 minutes early. Yet another company I was habitually late to the meetings. I have little patience for sitting in a room, listening to people talk about their own self importance with no real agenda to a meeting. Personally I am an on time or five minutes late - early would presume an appointment is ready earlier than agreed upon and late beyond 5 minutes is wasting time to get the festivities/activities underway. The five minutes gives room for that last minute running around like a headless chicken because a detail was forgotten.

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  15. my ex- mother in law was cronically late...but so consistant and predictable that if we wanted to eat at 12:30, we would tell her we were starting at 12. she was never late.

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  16. I am very much not uptight nor obsessive, but I hate to be late. I'll get places way too early and sit in my car rather than be late. On the other hand I have a step son we refer to "the late Steven Lee". Not because he is dead but because he is so reliably late. We tell him dinner times or meet up times a full hour early just to hopefully get him there on time. Sometimes he doesn't show up at all.

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  17. My idea of being on time is being 15 minutes early. Chronic tardiness is a lack of respect for others. As for the military guy who punished people for not being way early....that's why I hated being the service, the ability to abuse.

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  18. I like to be early a little bit, shows respect for whatever or whomever you have an appointment with.
    I have a friend that is always late, once when we were much younger, I had been invited to her family's Thanksgiving dinner, (I was like a surrogate child), so I get there about 15 to 30 minutes early and her mom said I knew you would get here early, can you help with the gravy while I go upstairs to finish dressing. Her daughter my friend got there just in time to sit down and eat. Of course at the end I also helped with the dishes and she did not. Go figure.

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  19. My dh considers anything less than 15 min early as late. I consider myself early if I get somewhere on time, and am usually 2 min before time....or 2 min late, lol. If it’s a social function (a casual get together, not something work related), I’m more comfortable showing up about 10 min late. I hate being early to such functions, and I feel very self conscious and weird till more people show up.

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