Food for Thought / Thoughts on...

Thoughts On…Punctuality (My Response)

Ever feel like you need to get something off your chest?  Sometimes I’ve just gotta talk it out.  That’s why I’ve decided to do a monthly feature called “Thoughts On…”  At the beginning of the month, I’ll provide a prompt to stimulate discussion.  The point is to get us to put our thoughts out there – writing it all down can be quite cathartic.  If you want to keep your writing private, that’s your thing and I won’t question it.  If you’re ready to put it all out there, I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments.  At the end of the month I’ll provide my own thoughts on the topic of the month.  Think of it as a book club for writing.

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Earlier this month I got to thinking about punctuality

About a year ago I made a concerted effort to be on time.  I think hope I’ve been successful.  What brought about this change?  Two situations got me burning mad.  First, a few years ago, I had a dinner party and someone showed up an hour and a half late.  That’s way beyond fashionable.  This wasn’t a casual drop-in party; we’re talking sit down dinner so we were stuck waiting on them and two guests with a baby had to leave by the time the dinner actually got started.  It was a shame.  Then, about a year ago, someone arrived an hour late for brunch because they hadn’t even gotten in the shower when they agreed to meet.  Why not just tell me you can’t meet til later?  I’ve heard the usual excuses: traffic was terrible, parking was impossible to find.  You’ve been driving/living in the city for years – how could you underestimate time so drastically?  Someone suggested that in the future I tell these folks the event starts 15 minutes earlier than it actually does.  But I shouldn’t have to do that just because you can’t get your shiz together.

I ranted about these situations forever…until I realized I was an offender.  No, I’ve never shown up an hour and a half late for something, but I definitely played by the rule that “everybody” arrives 10 minutes late.  A little late has become the new on time.  But when you keep someone waiting they feel disrespected.  Just because fashionably late has become the norm doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.  With cell phones so prevalent it has become easy for people to show up late because they think if they shoot a quick “almost there!” text it’s totally fine.

The below clip from “The Mindy Project” epitomizes how lots of us behave.  I hate to admit I’ve been guilty.  Well not anymore!  Now, for me, on time is the new on time.

I’ve taken the following steps to prevent myself from showing up late:

  1. I timed exactly how long it takes to walk to my nearby subway stops.
  2. I downloaded the Bus Checker app so I can’t say the bus showed up late.  It’s not foolproof so a buffer is necessary.
  3. Speaking of a buffer, I add 5-10 minutes to all trip times.  If it “always” takes 15 minutes to get somewhere, I give myself 20.
  4. I don’t plan any after-work activities for before 6:45.  I’ve had to push things back too often.  I’d rather plan a later start time upfront than have to push it back.
  5. I standardized my getting-ready process and timed each step.  I used to think it took 10 minutes to shower but it’s more like 15.  And curling my hair takes 20 minutes, not 15.  Now I have a realistic understanding of how long it takes me to prep for a night out.  I also use shower time to pick out my outfit – no more standing in front of the closet with a blank stare.
  6. I am learning to avoid “one more” syndrome, where I just play one more round of a game, listen to one more song, or watch one more Today Show segment.  One more always turns into 3 more and then I’m late.

I’ve seen a real difference in myself.  Unfortunately, I know some people still think of me as habitually late.  I know my parents still remember always having to wait on me in high school, when it was “cool” to be a typical, late, teenage girl.  It’s been 12 years (eek!) since high school, yet I can’t quite shake their opinion of me.  Actions speak louder than words so hopefully people begin to recognize my renewed attention to promptness.

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