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Karma For The Perpetually Late

I have always been a late person. I’m never on time, by which I mean I squeak in at the last second or up to 5 minutes late. I am the barefoot person in yoga pants mopping the floor as the first party guests ring the doorbell. I am not late for anything that leaves without me like planes and trains, which just goes to show I can be punctual if I need to, but somehow I am always late. (I realize ‘somehow’ directly translates into ‘it is my fault’) I am known as ‘Davidson’ in my family living 100 miles away because I always call them, LATE, when in that city and say “we’re in Davidson; we’ll be there soon”.

I never worried about this much, rationalizing “I get there sooner or later and you aren’t depending on me, so what’s the rush?” When I expressed this once in a E-Hell comment field, I was surprised and a little taken aback at being so swiftly and firmly instructed how wrong I was. (and hurt, but that was my problem, not anyone else’s)

Well, ha ha ha, karma is a harsh mistress. I recently engaged a personal trainer to come to my home. He is worse than I ever was! He misses his appointment time by hours, sometimes doesn’t show up at all, arrives 2 hours late just as I’m leaving for work unable to understand why I can’t have a session right now and schedules appts ANY time, including Sunday evening. There is always an excuse as to why he can’t make it today, sometimes fantastical, usually dodgy and always after the fact. I’m actually getting exasperated with him.

NOW I understand your frustration. Ordinarily I’d show him the door, but the kicker is that when he does show up, I get terrific results! I’m gaining muscle mass, I’m losing weight, I feel great and this has never happened before-I’ve been fat since I was a child. I’m terrified of losing this momentum and going back to being fat and unhealthy.

So, E-Hellers, what goes around comes around. I have significantly cleaned up my act and am busily apologizing to the numerous people I’ve driven nuts over the years with my tardiness. I will grit my teeth and take my punishment like a man. Crow is not bad with enough ketchup on it. 0320-13


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  • Kate March 26, 2013, 4:53 pm

    @schnickelfritz, I’m one of those “chronically early” people but if I’m super early for something like a job interview, I usually go to a cafe, grab a coffee and wait until five minutes before the scheduled time to turn up. Same thing when I’m going to someone’s house, but without the five minutes early thing.

    @Sugaryfun – I hear you on the public transport thing! My train line is notorious for cancellations, so you’re likely to be really late or really early. I’d rather be early because it’s less stressful!

  • schnickelfritz March 26, 2013, 4:54 pm

    Enna, it depends on the size of the company. Meet the receptionist, 3-5 minutes early. 15 minutes, if they are scheduling interviews back-to-back, which is common, you may run into the previous interviewee. We would have to shuffle you around to avoid each other. A large company may have a place to “hide” you, but many small companies will not. Also, it is often the HR dept. for the initial interview anyway, with one conference room. Don’t walk in early, but if the company is in an unfamiliar neighborhood, you defintely want to arrive, and wait in your car. Don’t go for a walk, unless you know the neighborhood. I interviewed for a job, at a really nice company – the first thing the HR director said was “never get out of your car, outside this parking lot, in this neighborhood”. I did get the job. OMG it seemed every morning, on the radio news, I would hear of shootings and stabbings just a few blocks away. I worked there 5 years – great job, beautiful office, horrific neighborhood. It was 25 miles one way from my home.

    To clarify regarding the request for “tea” – what is the receptionist / admin asst. supposed to do, stand in the kitchen, steeping the tea bag? Or, giving the interviewee the cup, plate, spoon etc. It is not likely that any company has a nice hot tea pot brewed, like your Grandma’s house! The admin. has daily tasks to complete – interviews are not an everyday task – unless it is an employment agency.

    15 minutes is too early, they set the interview time, and account for time for you to fill out an application or whatever. Schedules are tight, and it is also annoying to have someone sitting in your office, when you are trying to conduct business, that may be confidential etc.

  • MichelleP March 26, 2013, 6:59 pm

    @Cass, if you don’t like the acquaintance, why do you meet with him/her? Why not make plans with the other two? I know your relationship with your father is a bit trickier, you have to spend a certain amount of time with family, but there’s no reason to be late for those things. It’s rude and you’re being passive aggressive. Especially at work, where there are others depending on you.

    I’m rather surprised at the amount of people posting here who are frequently late and seem to be completely unapologetic, defensive, and some even amused at their own rude behavior. Yes, it’s not worth getting losing sleep over, but it will lose friendships and credibility at your work, including termination. I’ve worked at jobs that people were eventually fired for constant lateness.

    Don’t mean to sound harsh, but being late is simply rude.

  • Jenn50 March 27, 2013, 1:53 am

    Enna, I don’t understand the notion of “hiding” interviewees. Anywhere I’ve ever worked, applicants sit in the reception area while waiting for their turn, sometimes shoulder to shoulder with others applying for the same position. In fact, when I’m doing interviews, I sometimes schedule them so that there is an overlap, then plant a current staffer in the mix as well, to report back on the conduct of the various applicants. I’ve often learned more about the character of applicants from his tactic than from the interview itself, because the candidate doesn’t know they’re being evaluated. To me, (and the others on my hiring team) 5-15 minutes early is appropriate for interviews. Anything less makes me think you don’t allow any leeway for the unexpected, and anything more suggests you don’t have the ability to accurately estimate how long things will take.

  • Mary March 27, 2013, 10:20 am

    I always arrive 5-10 minutes early for a job interview. Almost every interview I’ve been to I am in the waiting room with other applicants. It’s obvious that the employer expects it that way.

  • Angel March 29, 2013, 1:15 pm

    I consider “late” 15 minutes or more late. It can be annoying when people come too early as well. But I think 10 minutes early is no big deal.

    I agree with the others who say to get a new trainer. Missing an appointment by hours is really unacceptable.

  • kingsrings March 29, 2013, 4:45 pm

    I can’t stand people being chronically late. I’m not talking about the honest mistakes anyone could make in being late, I’m talking about people who are late constantly. It’s so inconsiderate and discourteous to others! It’s one of my pet peeves, so I have no problem ending friendships and business relationships with those who are chronically late. And unbelievably, in most of these cases, the people I ended the relationship with thought that they did absolutely nothing wrong and that I was the one with the problem! I’ve been accused of being a control freak, not understanding, and inflexible. And yet, these people have no problem with showing up to work on time, which proves that they are indeed in control of their timeliness. I also am active in community theater, and my favorite crew people are those that won’t tolerate late actors/crew. Just because we’re all volunteers doesn’t mean you can act that way.

  • Danielle March 31, 2013, 2:17 pm

    Dr. Phil once said that a person who is habitually late is arrogant: they have a (sometimes subconsciously) belief that their time is more valuable that everyone else’s; what they are doing is too important to leave and so therefore it is ok for them to be late to their next appointment. Further, no one really MINDS waiting because it’s “just a few minutes”. It is a very unfair way to treat people, and I hope OP has learned that.

    Personally, I would never put up with an employee behaving this way. He seems to think he’s doing you some sort of favor by turning up. He isn’t your friend. You are paying him to provide a service. Be firm and insist that from now on, you will not pay for a session that begins more than 15 minutes after it’s scheduled time, and cancellations need to be made a day in advance. Don’t put up with him just not showing up. Fire him the next time he does this. He may do a good job when he actually CHOOSES to show up and work, but if he isn’t consistent in his work that isn’t a benefit. There are other trainers who are just as effective, and also responsible business people.

  • MidoriBird April 1, 2013, 10:13 pm

    I do not have great tolerance for people who constantly change plans at the last moment without notifying or even considering the feelings of those who already arranged their own schedules for their benefit, but I have even less tolerance for people who are chronically late. It is what it tells me about their personality and their integrity, and how they perceive themselves in relation to others and the message isn’t very appealing.

    I remember reading a short story when I was a kid about some boy who had this problem. He didn’t mean to be, but it kept happening. He was always of the five-minutes-late sort. His grandmother helped him solve the problem by giving him a watch his grandfather owned when he was a boy (a really old fashioned kind on a chain) that had engraved on the back: “Every time that you are late; someone somewhere has to wait.” The boy took this a step further and set that watch to five minutes ahead, and by training himself to react to that watch as if it kept perfect time, more or less cured his perpetual lateness.