The lameness of lateness

January 28, 2010
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The lameness of lateness

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Have you ever noticed how nobody seems to respect appointments?

No, then you are probably one of those inconsiderate people who thinks your time is more valuable than everyone else’s.

Start a conversation with your friends about the last time they tried to get someone to come to their house to fix something. No doubt you’ll be regaled with story after story that will sound very familiar to all of us.

“We can only narrow delivery time down to a half day window.” Read: “And then we won’t bloody show up within it anyway.”

Aside from the lucky few with time-travelling DeLoreans, we only get one go at any point in time. Do you really want to spend it waiting for someone else?

Tell me, why is it that some people consistently show up late for events that happen at the same time every week? Is it that 7pm on a Wednesday night sneaks up on them from a different angle each week? Do they really forget something that predictable and repeatable every week? No, they are just inconsiderate and rude.

While we are at it, why is it that if you send something by overnight courier it never arrives the next day? Why do TV shows always run late these days? Why don’t shops open on time and why do they close early? Why do meetings always start late? Why do planes wait for one person and inconvenience 350 others? Well, I know the answer to that one.

As an aside, here’s a free way for a forward-thinking airline to fix that problem. Instead of having a cargo hold under the passengers, make the whole plane passenger space. Instead provide luggage space behind each seat and let passengers carry their own luggage on board. That way the doors can be closed on time because no-one can send a bomb on ahead. Airlines would save so much money on luggage handling costs. I think I’ve blown my own mind. You are welcome, Richard. Send the cheque to my home.

I understand that sometimes people can be late due to unforeseen circumstances. Things happen: roads get blocked, weather does stuff and so on. In that case make a call before you are late. You may feel uncomfortable and not want to do it, but it isn’t hard.

I am amazed at how often people are amazed that I am so punctual. Don’t tell me what time your party starts if you’ve built in a buffer for fashionable lateness. I am neither fashionable nor late and we’ll be partying on our own for the first 2 hours I guarantee it.

And right there is the problem. If we let them get away with it, either directly or by association, it will creep and you’ll only have yourself to blame.

If you are waiting for other people you are a chump. Plain and simple. Take control of your life and your time. No one else will. Do what you say when you say you are going to do it. Sure, be considerate and flexible but keep a close eye on that monkey throwing poo at you from the flexible path.

Deadlines don’t exist. If they did, half the software industry would be dead (and no bad thing either if you ask me). Doing things in a timely fashion is, however, sensible, if for no other reason than it lets you tick things off your list and move on to the next one.

Timeliness and consideration: Teach it to your children and demand it of your team.

I think it all comes down to two levels of respect: respect for your own time and respect for other people’s time. The first is your problem. I am happy for you to do whatever you want with your time. Guess how I am going to deal with the second?

David Moore has 25 years experience in the computer industry and is now Principle PC Hater at ihatemypc.com.au.

Photo: PhillipC

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