Dear Habitually Late People…
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, which means I’ve always been the commuting friend. I also grew up as an ever-so-slightly neurotic girl, which means I tend to largely over-shoot my commute.
If something generally takes 40 minutes via subways, I’ll allow a solid hour to get there… only to be sitting at some bar to find out whatever friend I’m meeting hasn’t left their apartment yet, as is normal for a habitually late person. And if I’m early? It’s on me.
But all too often, the meeting time will come and go, and the friend, colleague, or date is nowhere to be found. Ultimately, I’d rather wait than expect someone else to do so. (Yes; it’s that inconsiderate and a is a sign of a selfish friendship.)
Even when the commute isn’t a concern, many people are simply not considerate when making and keeping plans.
So a few questions for habitually late people: Do you chronically under-judge how long a series of events will take, just as I over-judge? Are you endlessly optimistic that this time you’ll be able to do everything faster and better than ever before?
Or is it, as I suspect, that you simply believe your time is more valuable than everyone else’s and they have no concept of how incredibly rude you truly are?
Some of my habitually late friends, past and present, have shared their psychology: they find that being the early one is wasting time. And while that’s a valid point — being early can be inefficient — it comes down to being a person who puts their own time secondary to respecting someone else’s. It comes down to whether or not you lead life as a selfish, inconsiderate person. (Personally, I try not to be.)
But it’s more than that. I wonder if the people who are chronically late and inconsiderate of other people’s time realize the reputation they’re creating for themselves. Here’s a hint, if you’re unaware: You’re showing yourself to be unreliable. Whether I’m going to be dating you, working with you, or considering you a close friend, this tendency will impact our relationship.
I once worked with someone who asked to schedule a meeting. It had been on the books for weeks. I was on the subway, a half-hour into my trip to the city, when I received an email from her assistant that something came up and she needed to reschedule.
I had already taken time out of my day to commute back and forth, to meet her at her office, and then had to double back and go home. Later, her Instagram revealed she was out museum-hopping. Safe to say, I didn’t work with that person in the future.
Whether you’re frequently late, always rescheduling, or last-minute altering plans or locations, you’re showing that you disrespect the other person and their time. Why would someone want to be involved with you, personally or otherwise, under those circumstances?
I’ve tried to put myself in the other person’s shoes. Maybe you’re really bad at estimating how long things take. If so, you’re a bad planner and need to work on that.
I keep a food diary to keep track of what I’m eating, so why don’t you keep a time diary to keep track of your schedule, and how often you’re behind where you should be in your day? Find your pattern, fix your errors, and make adjustments.
Also, please learn to say no. I have close friends that will over-commit themselves. They’ll try to fit ten activities into an hour and then are shocked when they’re an hour late to dinner and discover me two drinks in, steaming. Say yes to what you can do, and if that plan doesn’t include keeping your plan with me, I’d rather you cancel on me than just stand me up.
Do you get an adrenaline rush from doing everything at the last minute? Are you like those people in college that wrote every paper the night before it was due? Is “crisis mode” the only time you can be motivated to move forward?
Whatever your issue, don’t make it mine.
I’ve taken a page from Rory Gilmore and have started to carry reading material with me for when I’m sitting alone in bars and restaurants waiting for people. It’s a lot less sad than staring at text messages, waiting for an update on when people will show.
Plus, it makes me feel like my time isn’t being wasted. Because, you know, it matters as much as yours.