Why are you always late?

Not always. Many people who are routinely late do, consciously, want to be punctual. But they are prevented by any number of factors, most having to do with the inability to manage their time, activities, ideas, focus. And then there are those who have difficulty putting themselves in the position of someone whom they are inconveniencing. Sure, being self-absorbed may seem like a choice, but frankly it isn’t always. Sometimes it is more like a mental disability.

There are two different ways to be difficult to live with here. One is chronically being late, and the other is being enraged when people are late.

I used to fall into the latter category but realized eventually that it really did nothing but ruin everyone’s mood. Nothing else.

It baffles me that anyone thinks there is a reasonable defence for not bothering to keep to your commitments.

Doesn’t matter what your internal justifaction is, to me, if you agree on a time then any failure to keep to that time is incredibly rude and extremely disrespectful of other people.

It is clear evidence that you are either deliberately untrustworthy, incompetent or thoughtless.

Barring exceptional circumstances what reasonable reason is there for being late?

Saying you’ll pick me up at 10 to take me to the airport IS the same commitment as saying you’ll pick me up at 10 to take me to the mall. In both cases you are putting ME on a timeline you have no intention of following. And that where the selfishness comes in that Little Nemo promotes. Maybe it is not as critical to being on-time to the mall as the airport but that is not the issue. You made a commitment to the other person and fail to honor that. I got up early to be ready at 10. I stopped playing Fortnite at 9:58 so I’d be ready when you got here. I ate cereal for breakfast since I didn’t have time to make a bacon and cheese omlette and still be ready at 10. So when you roll up at 10:40 you are telling me that my time is unimportant. It has nothing to do with whether or not getting there on-time is important. It’s about a jerk not thinking it is important to follow through on commitments and completely devaluing the other person saying you, what you want and your time are completely unimportant to me.

Let me ask you this: you are picking up your buddy to head out to the bar with some friends on a Friday night. You both agree that he will be leaving work at 5. You get there right at 5 - no buddy. You wait in the parking lot by yourself until 5:40 when he finally wanders out. You joke, “Guess you had that big project to finish.” and he says, “No I was hanging out with Bill talking about the football game this weekend. Then I had to pee and that took 15 minutes since I was playing on this new app I found. then I reorganized my desk. Nothing like an organized desk to start fresh Monday morning.”
How would you feel?

Or how about this? Your friend asks you to pick them up at 11 for a doctor’s appointment. You get there at 11 and the friend finished their shower at 11:05. At 11:15 they are dressed but they want to but some things in the dishwasher. 11:25 they get on their phone to check email and no they can’t do that in the car (yes they could) when you ask if they are ready to go. At 11:30 you finally leave. While in the car they continually tell you to go faster (if a cop is out you’ll get a ticket sort of faster) because they will be late. When following a car going the speed limit + 5 they tell you to go around them because they will be late. They get upset when you stop on a stale yellow that would have turned red just as you hit the intersection because they will be late. They start bitching to the world that there are no close parking spaces because they are running late because the “15 minute drive” took 25 minutes as usual and you need to find a close space now when none are available because they are late. See it’s all on you to fix them being late when you were on time. How would you feel?

There is also a cultural component to this, in high context vs low context cultures. There are a number of differences, which are summarized here,. One aspect is high context cultures tend to use a “polychronic perception of time while low context cultures us a monochronic perception. Monochronic people see time as tangible and sequential – it can be saved, spent, and so on. They make and adhere to strict deadlines and focus on one task at a time. Polychronic people see time as fluid. Punctuality and structure are not as important and deadlines are something to aim for not to meet at all costs. Similarly, polychronic people work with multiple tastes at once.”

About 70% of the world is high context. I work a lot within the South Asian community and the community I deal with, at least, jokingly refers to their sense of time as “Indian standard time.” I also find, from personal experience, sense of time is more fluid in many Latin American and Hispanic cultures.

For me, it depends on the event whether punctuality is important or not. I grew up with the clock (e.g. school schedules, work schedules, and the such) where punctuality is of utmost importance. I have never been late to school a day of my life; the most I’ve been late to work or a client meeting is ten minutes, and if I’m running late I immediately text or call the person if I can. Something like a party is more fluid. When I throw a party I expect almost noone to be on time. “Party starts at three means most people will arrive 3:30 - 4” with my friends and family. Other events, like getting to a doctor’s appointment at a given time or having someone pick you up at a specific time is more hardly defined. If I’m doing you a favor and ask you to return the favor by being ready at agreed-upon time, my wish is that you stick to your word. I won’t fault you as a bad human being if you don’t, and I probably won’t get too frustrated with you, but I may be less likely to do favors if this is a continued practice with you. This goes with the “don’t make a promise you can’t/don’t intend to keep” part of the habitual lateness.

It’s all about context and expectations for me. In general, I prefer people to be punctual, but I’m not “line in the sand” about it.

In reviewing this thread, I am reminded of the thread we had last year on “whiteness” and in particular how one of the most contentious issues (the middle third of the thread or so) seemed to be on how bonkers (some people thought) it was that other people and maybe even cultures don’t, as a matter of course, consider punctuality to be a preeminent virtue.

You need to warn people that you see it that way. Because quite a lot of people don’t; and no, they are not Just Wrong.

I would class him in my head as “this guy runs late” and figure that he wouldn’t be ticked off if I ran late some time in the future.

I also probably wouldn’t have sat there in the parking lot for 40 minutes; I’d have called him or gone inside to see what was up.

– I’ve got more than one good friend who’s often late because they got talking to somebody. They’re people who will go way out of their way for me, and can be counted on for anything else other than showing up on time. I’m not going to waste my time expecting them not to get distracted talking to other people; I’m just going to be aware that they’re among the people who do this.

I would think they were being an obnoxious fool for telling me to drive badly and for bitching at me; which I would think whether the reason was their being late or not. I would class them as somebody not to give rides to, and very likely as somebody who I wasn’t about to ride with if they were driving; but that wouldn’t be because they took their time getting out of the house. And I’d drop them off at the door and then go park the car afterwards.

You’re right. What I should have said is that people don’t value being punctual and I think society is ok with that. The question now is are there other values at play here like valuing someone else’s time and adhering to commitments.

Some posters are creating a dichotomy of important-to-be-on-time vs unimportant and the conversation seems to be focusing on that right now. But the OP is about always being late. It’s about the person always 15 minutes late to work and always 20 minutes late to the doctors or leaving 30 minutes late to the airport. It is not about situational lateness and people who say it is ok to be running 10 minutes late to the movies because of previews are being disingenuous because they are always late, not this one time.

And this conversation in the thread doesn’t get to the heart of the OP - why when you said we were leaving at 6:30 for the movie can’t you be ready at 6:30? You know it takes you 20 minutes to shower so why couldn’t take a quicker shower or start your shower long before 6:35? Those making excuses for people being late when it is unimportant to be on-time still have yet to answer the question of why people cannot commit to the timeline they set or agree too because we are not talking about people on-time to important event and have a nebulous definition of “6:30” when unimportant. They simply use the excuse “it’s not important to be on-time”*** in those latter cases.

*** Not important to whom? I hate missing the beginning of films so yeah it’s not important to you that the movie has been playing for 10 minutes when we walk in or that I need to forego my popcorn and coke because were late but it is important to me. Selfish.

So you’re saying you would not be upset at all that he kept you waiting in the parking lot for 40 minutes?

So you wouldn’t think at all that if they were so worried about being on time that they are bitching at you about being late that maybe, just maybe, they should have been ready on time?

You conveniently ignore the rest of my first paragraph. Care to respond to the issue I raised there?

YOU know that. Not everyone appears to know how long things take, and chronically underestimate. In fact I just read somewhere a few days ago (NYT?) that this is so common that there is a name for it, Planning Fallacy. A number of studies have shown this is a general character trait. People believe that they will do better next time.

That’s not what I said. I said that many people WANT and INTEND to be punctual but cannot seem to manage it, feel bad about it.

And does she care about those looks?

Got a friend who’s always late. What you described in your post and this video are 100% the reasons why.

Look at it this way… if you schedule a meeting at work, are you planning on starting at 1300, or are you planning on having everyone show up at 1300, mill around a bit, sit down, get situated, and start at 1305?

That’s the real reason for showing up a little bit before- so the event starts on time, not so everyone shows up AT time, and then whatever getting settled stuff takes place after the actual start time.

Some of us have answered it, multiple times. Let me try again in somewhat different wording: Because being ready to do something at a specific time takes a huge amount of our attention, mental energy, and ability to get anything else done. We may indeed be able and willing to do this in order to accomplish something for which that exact time does matter (although we may only be able to accomplish it by showing up way ahead of time), but that’s the price we’re paying to do so; and expecting us to do that for everything in our lives is a whole lot less reasonable than those who are demanding punctuality in all instances seem to think.

Again, I probably wouldn’t have just sat there in the parking lot; at least, unless I had something with me to read or work on that I thought was at least as interesting as hanging out in the bar.

If I’d called him, or run him down inside the building, and said ‘hey, I’m really hungry, are you ready to go yet?’ and he’d said ‘nah, I’m gonna finish talking, I’m not hungry yet’ I’d probably have been annoyed at that. If he’d said ‘whoops got talking and lost track of the time’ and said goodbye to the other person, no, I wouldn’t have been angry. And, bear in mind, while I’m outside the building I don’t know what’s holding him up. Is his boss yelling at him? Is he on the phone with a family emergency? Did the friend he’s talking to just come to him with an issue causing the friend serious distress, and he’s trying to help? Did he get handed at 3:40 a two-hour piece of work that needs to be done tonight? Yes, in that last case he could call me; but if he can call me, I can call him. And in the first three, maybe he can’t call me right then.

If it turned out he’d already left for the bar with somebody else and hadn’t bothered to let me know – that I’d be pissed at.

I would think that they shouldn’t be bitching at me and that if they were the sort of person who would bitch at me because they were late then they were probably the sort of person who would bitch at me, and at other people, for other things that were their own fault. I’d be mad at them for bitching at me; but that’s a different issue.

OK, here’s the entirety of your first paragraph:

And I’m going to give you the same answer: if you think saying I’m going to pick you up to go to the mall at 10 requires the same degree of punctuality as saying I’ll pick you up at 10 to take you to the airport, you need to specify that when making appointments; because there are a whole lot of people who don’t mean it that way.

If your being ready by 10 poses you difficulties starting the previous night and, instead of making you think that they may have had greater difficulties, that makes it really important to you that you be able to leave on time, then tell them that. In advance. Or ask them if they can’t make it 11 instead.

And to say that this sort of misunderstanding amounts to “completely devaluing the other person, saying you, what you want, and your time are completely unimportant to me” – ay yi yi. If what you want is completely unimportant to them, why did they show up to take you to the mall in the first place? If they clearly show that they value you in other ways, why do you feel “completely devalued?” If they do devalue you in other ways, why do you want to go to the mall to them to start with?

The only thing it’s showing is that you and the other person have different senses of time.

Judging by my experience with meetings: most people are planning on B, and often on starting more at 1310 or 1315 than at 1300. Even some of the meetings that say they start at 7:30 with half an hour explicitly allowed for registration and getting situated often don’t start the first session right at 8.

I do know some meetings that are expected to start dead on time. But IME not the majority. And I am not in the least surprised, and not ticked off, if I schedule a meeting and the attendees are clearly expecting B. If we’ve got a limited time for the meeting, I’m pretty good at keeping an agenda on track and moving once we get started; which also IME is by far the bigger problem with wasted time at meetings.

My neighbor is blaming me because she lost her job. Here’s how it happened.

Neighbor asked me to take her and her dog to dog’s vet appointment at 11:30. This is a 30-45 minute drive at the best of times. We agreed to leave at 10:30, just to be sure. I was at her home at 10:30. We left at 11:10. We got to the vet at 11:45 and missed her appointment. The vet was willing to work her in, but didn’t know when, so I left her there. The vet was able to see her at 3:00, she called me at 3:15 and I picked her up at 4:00. I got her home at 4:45. She was scheduled to be at work at 5:00, but didn’t get there until almost 6:00. Her boss, tired of her showing up late, fired her.

Somehow, this is all my fault. It is a shame, her dog is a real sweetie and does need regular vet visits. I hope she can suck someone else with a car in because she won’t be getting any more rides from me.

If I didn’t want pick up at 10 then why would I say I wanted picked up at 10? If I say “I want to leave at 10.” read my mind and tell me what time do I really want to leave. And again, I am ready at 10 and you roll up at 10:30 so you really don’t value my time. I like how you are blaming the other person when they give a specific time and you twist that into “even though you gave me a specific time, you didn’t make it clear that you wanted picked up at that specific time.” So tell me what I’m thinking in this scenario. “Hey thorny locust, can you pick me up at 10am to go to the mall?” What time am I really thinking of leaving? And let’s say you know when I say 10 that I mean I am ready at 10 because you know that’s the type of person I am. Now what’s you excuse for not picking me up at 10:30? And that is not even answer to the question of WHY you are late. We agreed to pick me up at 10. Why can’t (or didn’t) you get there on time?

And again for like the umpteenth time - the question is about people that are ALWAYS late. The question is not about leaving to the mall late. The question is why are you a half-hour late picking me up to go to the mall AND a half-hour late when I’m picking you up for your doctor’s appointment AND a half-hour late picking me up from work everyday AND a half-hour late getting ready for the movies so we miss the first 15 minutes AND …

I think some of the posters here have unintentionally given us a big reason why some people are always late. “Don’t you care that I’m always waiting for you? Don’t you care that I’m always late because you can’t stick to a schedule we agree to?” “Nope, its all about me and I don’t care.”

If I aready know that, that changes the entire picture. Exactly what I’ve been trying to tell you is that you need to let people know that you’re like that.