Chronically late people: Disorganized or something else?

My 3-member carpool for work has a weak link. One person is always just a bit late. Sometimes it’s just 5 minutes. Sometimes it’s longer.

However, my question is (and I posted it here because I think there is no “answer”) are people who are chronically late just disorganized or is there something deeper. Another coworker suggested that the “late” person is actually adopting a passive-agressive type of control over the 2 of us.

And are there any other good ways to reform a “late” person other than some tough love, i.e. “Hey, be ready to go at X hour or we leave without you!”

I once had somebody tell me that anybody who can’t be reliably punctual is probably untrustworth in general. Looking back on it I’d be hard pressed to find a case where this wasn’t true. But then again, all those people might have been habitual gum chewers as well. But I wouldn’t count on this guy bailing you out if you need it.

But then again there’s always the possibility he has a sleep disorder.

Is he normally late for other events during the day, or is it just mornings he has problems getting things together?

Among the reasons mentioned above, there is also the possibility that it’s selfishness and a lack of respect for whoever is left waiting.

When I read the initial comment about the person being untrustworthy most of the time, I felt somewhat offended because I tend to be late. I am however not an untrustworthy person. I read XJETGIRLX’s post and checked out the sleep disorder link, and I think that is my problem. I know I always feel horrible when I am late and have people waiting on me.

I’m a chronically late person. Well, not for work. I’m never late for that because I know I can’t be. But whenever I know it’s not absolutely necessary I be somewhere at a very certain time, I procrastinate about getting ready. It’s not that I want to put other people out, or exert control over them. It’s just that I’m lazy. I try harder when I know I’m doing something with a punctual person, or when I know even though we’re not on a tight schedule, but the person wants to get a move on.

Especially in the morning. I try so hard to get up on time. I have insomnia on and off, and once I do fall asleep, I don’t want to get up. I purposely set my alarm early so I can do the whole snooze button thing without staying in bed too long. (I hit the button every morning, so setting it early was the only answer!)

One of my very best friends has had chronic problems with promptness, getting up, and that sort of thing. It’s caused numerous problems, including his failing out of college (well, it’s one big reason of many).

He doesn’t have honesty or trustworthyness issues (other than trusting him to be on time, but he’s working on that and is much better than he used to be).

I think he has a problem with responsibility and maybe some sleep issues, and a priority-setting issue. No sinister motives there though.

My In-Laws are ALL chronically late. It drives me nuts as I always like to be on time but they see nothing wrong with being over an hour late.

In their case I think its a problem with upbringing - as children they were simply not taught that being on time was important.

There have been times when my SIL was meant to be driving to work with me and I would end up being over an hour late. Another occasion my BIL was meant to meet me in the city at 1pm when he didn’t show by 1.30pm I rang him and he still hadn’t left home (over 2 hours away)! Neither of them see anything wrong with this and in fact expect me to wake them up and help them get ready if I want them to be somewhere on time.

Leechboy has learnt the hard way about being late after missing out on film school because he was late for the interview. He no longer suffers from tardiness but the rest of his family :rolleyes:

Approximately 96.235% of my friends are chronically late. (based on a standard deviation and normal distribution, of course.)

Which is a problem, since I’m almost pathalogically punctual. I’ve been known to leave a place when someone I’m meeting is five minutes late.

However, since I love my friends, I live by their scheudles sometimes.

I find that my late-arriving acquaintences generally fall into one of three catergories:

  1. Those who are simply incapable of getting themselves together at all, thus missing totally the concept of being on time.

  2. Those who try to cram too much in to each day. Invariably, they can’t do it all and fall behind while still trying to keep the same list of “to-do’s” for the day.

  3. Those who genuinely try to be on time, but for whom circumstances always seem to get in the way. Flat tire, dead battery, sick child, runaway cat, long phone call to mom, waiting on the cable guy, etc.

  4. Those who just don’t give a shit.

I usually jettison the category four friends pretty quickly :slight_smile:

oops - you know I meant FOUR categories, right?


I’m late for work every day but it’s really only because I haven’t seen any consequences for my behavior. Maybe if you started laying down the law on this punk he’d fear the wrath.

To the OP, start leaving without him. Some people just don’t get the fact that they are wasting your time. Five minutes doesn’t seem like much, but it’s 5 minutes you can spend on better things than waiting on him. You might miss that traffic snarl, or be at the front of it rather than the rear. Time to buy a newspaper or a cup of coffee. Time to run to the bathroom before the workday begins or to greet your co-workers or check your e-mail (if you work on a computer).

Tell the guy straight out - hey, I’m tired of you stealing five minutes (or more) of my time every day. Be here on time or be left behind.

I’m in the camp that believes there is no reason for chronic lateness. There are tons of excuses, but no good reasons. I think most chronically late people are also chronically thoughtless of other people, and how their actions affect them. In other words, people are on time for the things that matter to them.

Wow, more abuse to heap on people who aren’t in a hurry for anything! What fun!

Yep, I’m late all the time. And it is absolutely because I am a selfish bastard who hates clocks and wishes no one could read their watches and all live on my schedule which is completely arbitrary and impossible to follow intentionally, and only very unlikely on accident.

But mostly because I’m not in a hurry for anything. When I am, I’ll be there. On time. By my watch, which is ten minutes fast. :stuck_out_tongue:

For the record, the person in the OP is a she, not a he.

Perhaps this explains the situation. I got up today at 6:30 am. She got up at 7:30 am.

As for laying down the law on being late, all of us work in a big building, but we have 3 different bosses. 2 of us have bosses who care when we show up. The other doesn’t.

Guess which one has the boss who doesn’t care if you’re late.

Don’t pick her up and say, “Late, early… what’s the difference?” See what that does.

I think the OP falls into category 1. She definitely isn’t in category 4.

I will cogitate on how to solve this problem while I’m on vacation. It won’t be an issue again until 2/20.

Another factor in all this is that I will soon be made the supervisor in my department, so 2 of the 3 people in the carpool will be supervisors and it’s pretty hard (if not downright hypocritical) to tell people to be on time when you’re late.

I have three older brothers and they’ve had these combinations with their wives:

  1. Early + Early -> Early (and that includes three kids)
  2. Late + Late -> Late
  3. Late + Early -> Late

I think “Late” is the dominant gene in this Punnett square.

As a chronically late person, from a chronically late family, this should be your option.

Sometimes I’m late due to disorganization, sometimes not. I don’t think I’ve ever done it to assert passive aggressive control over anyone. (I’ve been accused of that. People who are generally on time may from time to time be late passive aggressively. People who are generally late, I don’t think so…) I also don’t think I’m thoughtless (chances are, if someone is depending on me being on time, I’ll be on time for them - if no one is relying on me, all bets are off) Part of it is that being on time is just not generally a priority for me, if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t… oh well. I’ll survive, and if there are consequences, I’ll have to face them. And I accept that.

Which brings us back to what should you do? Don’t worry about the late guy experiencing the consequences of being late. If you want to leave her, go. If you need to leave, don’t even think twice.

When it comes to work, I am on time (or just a minute late) maybe half of the time, and very rarely more than 3 minutes late. But I’m still late. It’s partly laziness, procrastination, and being “in denial” that I have a job and have to go to it. (I don’t always like my job.)

If someone wants to read great things into that, like I am a horrible person or whatever, I can’t stop them. But I think trying to assume that I’m a “generally untrustworthy” person is stretching it a bit much.

It might be true that there is some “passive aggressive” motivation behind my lateness (I don’t like my job, like I said) I don’t think it’s the reason all of the time. I’m just a procrastinator, coming from a family of procrastinators.

I think you may be on to something. I have a friend who is the Queen of passive-aggressive. (She is this way on many levels, not just lateness.) We’d all be scheduled to go out on some group outing, and she’d hem and haw and make us all wait while she decided if she could get herself together. We tried to bend over backwards for her (long reason for this) and a few times she made us miss out on some stuff—we were stuck waiting on her. We finally wised up and stopped doing that. She wasn’t always late, just sometimes.

My boyfriend is chronically late, and it drives me crazy. I’m hardly Miss Punctuality myself, but I can at least manage to show up to parties before everyone starts cleaning up, and to movies before the previews have ended and the only seats left are in the front.

He has a mild physical disabilty, which does cause him to move slowly at times. But sometimes I catch him just staring at his half-laced shoes when we ought to be getting out the door! I’m completely awestruck by his ability to never be on time for anything.

For one thing, he doesn’t seem to factor in things like putting on shoes (and they just have to be boots that take ages to lace, of course), putting on jackets, gathering his backpack and getting the car started into his assesment of when he has to leave to get someplace on time. And because of his disability and tendancy to get distracted, these things take a while to get done. I can get all my “getting ready to leave” activities done in the amount of time it takes him to get just one thing dones. Additionally, he does time-consuming things like (slowly, methodically) putting his backpack in the trunk of the car instead of tossing it in the back seat when he is in a hurry. He never makes decisions like “maybe I ought to wear slip-on shoes today instead of taking five minutes to lace up my boots”. It’s like he just isn’t able to comprehend what “we’ve got to get out the door now” means. Drives me nuts!

Another thing is that he has some sort of sleep disorder (which he firmly denies and refuses to have checked out by a doctor) which makes him want to sleep all the time. Ten hours of sleep is barely enough for him, and even after that he will want a long afternoon nap. When he is awake and not working, he is always in some state of almost-falling-asleep or just-waking-up. He gulps espresso after espresso, and still he is rarely fully alert between the hours of four in the afternoon and ten or eleven the next morning. He’ll often naps through engagments, and when he is not asleep he is usually too groggy to make much of an effort to get there as soon as possible. In his mind it’s okay to show up to whatever he has to do whenever he happens to wake up from whatever nap he’s taking , even if his girlfriend has been waiting with her shoes and jacket on for a good hour and a half pleading with him to at least wake up and start getting ready.

Add to that a work schedule with an infinite amount of cell phone calls and emails that “need” to be answered at any given time (as in while your on your way out the door), and you’ve got yourself a chronically late guy. I don’t think he’s passive agressive, or even lazy. I don’t even know what it is. It might even be some kind of mental block against being on time. It’s like he’s just unable to bring himself to get out of the house on time.

Sorry, this has turned into a rant more than anything else. Today the boyfriend finally got home at seven, after saying he was going to be home at four so I could make an appointment (and then at five he said he was about to get in the car to come home , and at six he was just stopping to get a cup of coffee and would be home in five minutes) and crashed on the couch for the night (and probably most of tommorow morning- or at least until he wakes up a couple hours late for work). I’m a little flustered. I hope this can give you some insight, at least.