My friend and I were talking recently about our time management skills, and I joked that his perpetual lateness is gong to be the death of me. He joked that, for someone who’s always late, this is what they actually mean when they text you about their whereabouts:
They say: “I’m just about to leave!”
But actually: They just woke up.
They say: “I’m on the subway!”
But actually: They’re just getting in the shower.
They say: “I’m 20 minutes away.”
But actually: They’re still not wearing pants.
They say: “I think I see you!”
But actually: They’re just leaving, maybe, if they could only find their keys…
This kind of thing drives many people bananas. There are people in everyone’s lives who are constantly late. No matter what the occasion, it seems like they are always late to meet you, and everyone else for that matter. Sometimes, we are even these people, these latebugs making everyone else wait. Oops. We all get it, of course. It happens. We all have a lot going on. It’s easy to let life get in the way of your time management skills. Lateness happens.
Sometimes, being late is completely out of our control. There’s unexpected traffic, you trip on your way out the door and have to go back for a band aid, the subway catches fire, whatever. Lateness is not always our fault. Much of the time though, it is. Much of the time being late could have easily been avoided by waking up earlier or planning ahead better. More often than not, lateness doesn’t have to happen.
So why then, are so many people constantly running late? What I am about to say I mean with no offense. I love a lot of time management deadbeats, and we’re all late sometimes, but the fact remains: lateness is disrespectful. Sometimes everyone loses track of time of course, and that’s why they are late. Who are we to judge anyone else?
I know. I know. But, hear me out.
I once heard someone say something extremely insightful. He was talking about how he used to always be late, until one day he was late meeting his friend and that friend said to him, “Why is your time more important than mine?” After that comment, he was rarely ever late again.
That idea really struck me. When someone is late, they’re making the person they were going to meet wait for them. This person could have been using the time they spent waiting to do something else, but instead they were made to wait. Doesn’t that sort of say that the person who is late is saying that their time is much more valuable? They had to be late because they had to do this or that, insinuating that the person that they’re meeting had nothing better to do than wait?
When someone is late, they’re not thinking about it that way. They’re not thinking, “Oh, I’m being very selfish by making people wait for me.” They’re thinking about whatever is preoccupying them enough to make them late. They’re thinking about their own busy lives.
They’re thinking about themselves.
I’m not saying people who are late are terrible, selfish people. That’s not even remotely true. I am saying though, that when we’re late we’re not thinking about how it’s going to affect others. We’re mostly thinking about how it’s affecting us.
Look at it this way: even people who are always late are often on time to things like interviews or to catch a plane. These things are deemed important, directly affecting their own lives. And so, they’re not usually late to them. I have been late. I’ve been late because of cars and trains and planes, but I’ve also been late because I needed to do something for me, and I had to disregard the time I had promised others I would be there. I recognized this, and I did it anyway. We’re all only human, after all. If we can help it though, we need to try not to be late.
We are important. We’re living our life, and therefore it’s the thing that occupies our mind most frequently. We are our number one priority. We also care though, about other people and the world. It can be hard to show we care about all those things at once – but being on time, despite everything we have going on in our own heads and hearts, is a small thing we can do to show the world that we do care.
It seems silly, that being late would make the world think we don’t care about it. I think though, that if we all tried to be more on time more often, we’d be surprised at how we’d all feel a little more respected, and maybe even a little more connected.
So, I know you needed that 20-minute nap that made you late getting ready. I l know you really, really need to finish watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I know you’ve had very little me time today. If someone is waiting for you though, be on time. Make that effort. If we stop making people wait for us, we’ll all have a little more time, and a little less stress.