Pet PeevesLatecomersJennifer Still

One might conclude, considering that I write an entire column based on things that annoy me, that it doesn’t take much to set me off. That’s not true, I swear! But I will say that one of my biggest bug-a-boos has gone long enough without being discussed: the latecomer.

Let’s just get real here for a second – being late is rude. There’s no other way to slice it, no way to sweeten it up, no way you can explain it to me that’s going to change my opinion. It’s just extremely inconsiderate, irresponsible and basically will spell the end of my association with you if it becomes a habit. Sorry, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I just do not have the patience for it.

I’m sure my intolerance for the timely-challenged largely stems from the fact that I was raised to be early. Sometimes I would get dropped off for school up to 45 minutes early just because otherwise I might not get a ride and might get there after the bell rang. I was taught to account for possible delays – traffic, bad weather, errands, whatever. If you have to be somewhere at 8am, you don’t turn up at 8am, you turn up at 7.45am so that you don’t seem rushed and are certain to be prepared for when 8am comes. This is something that was instilled in me early on and continues to be something I practice to this day and it’s never led me astray. Whether going to a job interview, meeting a friend or going to an event, I’ve never regretted leaving the house early and maybe having to wait a bit upon reaching my destination. The very rare occasions in which I’ve neglected to do so? Yep, it sucked.

People who are perpetually late to everything are sending a very clear message to the world around them: your time doesn’t matter.

If you’re constantly turning up even 10-15 minutes after you’re due to be somewhere, you’re basically giving the middle finger to those waiting for your arrival and saying that anything they might have to do or might need to get on with doesn’t matter in comparison to your inability to get yourself together a few minutes earlier. And that’s something I just can’t tolerate.

Sure, things happen – transportation delays, last minute emergencies, whatever. But these incidents should be the exception, not the rule. And frankly, once your lateless reaches into the half-hour mark or beyond, you might as well not even show up, in my book.

For those who think that turning up late makes you seem important or laissez-faire, get over yourself. There’s no such thing as “fashionably late” when you’ve agreed upon a firm time of being somewhere. It won’t make me think you’re mysterious or popular or that you must be so busy that I’m lucky to have secured a bit of your time. Instead, it’ll make me probably not want to make plans with you again in the future.

Here’s the bottom line: you’re an adult. Act like one! Maybe you have trouble getting up early or it takes you a while to do your hair and make-up before leaving the house. Maybe you’re extremely busy and are trying to fit too much into your day and trying to seem agreeable by making plans you can’t realistically honour. Whatever the case is, take the necessary steps to make sure that you are where you’ll say you’ll be when you say you’ll be there, no excuses.

Image via Growing Younger Each Day

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  • Rodgers Jersey

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  • Robin Karnes

    Amen, sister.

  • Janice Crowe

    I completely agree. I understand that things happen, but if you’re 20+ minutes late more than half of the time, it’s rude. Yes, everyone is trying to use their time as efficiently as possible, trying to milk out every precious moment with friends etc, but the emphasis here is on “everyone.” Your time is precious and I recognize that by being on time, not wanting to waste it by having you wait for me. Please do me the same courtesy.

  • Diana Zapata

    I’m friends with a couple of girls who would always be late. And not like 15-20 minutes, I can handle that fine. They have been up to an hour and a half late, without actually letting us know that they are running late for whatever reason. They just happily show up as if nothing is wrong while we’ve been waiting around for them. There’s a difference between trying to be on time for things, and feeling as if your time is more important than your friend’s time. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve drifted apart from them, it’s just a symptom of their selfishness (because they are always the same excuses-I had to have dinner, I had to shower, I had to get dressed, I had to do my hair-newsflash, we all have to do that yet somehow manage to be places within a reasonable time frame), and just because we’re friends doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be respectful of my time.

  • Brandon Pterodactyl Shults

    I run late. I do my best to be on time and I’m not just waiting until the last minute to leave. I usually fall into the 5-10 minutes after crowd. Not infuriatingly late, but annoying nonetheless. I know.
    But to say that we’re saying our “Your time doesn’t matter” seems a little self-centered, no?

    As I’ve said, I use my time. I’m doing something that requires me to use MY time. I have multiple people to see, or meetings, or some bill to pay. I’m active. I don’t plot out how to make my friends squirm when I said I’d be at the diner by five O’clock.

    It seems rude to me to assume that my time isn’t important. By writing me off for managing my time a little differently seems unfair. It’s too rigid. Life is ever-changing and so is time; a little leeway isn’t harmful.
    It also implies that YOUR time is of MORE importance than us late-bees. That because we don’t follow your pre-planned and no-room-for-error schedule, we’re careless and rude. When I’d say it’s almost the opposite. It’s rude to think that because I’m late, I don’t care about you or your time.

    Now maybe you’re speaking more of those who are hours and hours late, which I can agree, that annoys me. I infer a rather passionate distaste, something profound, for something quite minute. A fly compared to a swarm of bees.

    • John Smith

      lol the point Brandon Pterodactyl Shults

  • Karen Leigh Burton

    Ok, but wait there is another side to this coin. the ultimate early bird… I am always a minimum of 10 minutes early, BUT I have a “friend” that insists on leaving an HOUR and a HALF early for work, when she works 15 minutes away… even if there WAS traffic…. there are 900 ways around it and might only add 4 minutes to her trip to work… She doesn’t stop for coffee, breakfast, gas, cigarettes… she SITS in her CAR in the parking lot for a full hour and 15 minutes before work… God forbid we have an appointment somewhere… I don’t care how much I argue,…. we must leave early enough to arrive a minimum of ONE HOUR early… I have a life, and my time is valuable, too valuable to sit and waste an hour in the car… doing nothing.

    • John Smith

      Why does your friend getting there super early bother you? I am just wondering if you could just get to wherever you need to be whenever you see fit instead of waiting around so long.

  • Diana Del Valle

    I have stopped waiting for people after years of losing hours of my life because of tardy people. I go right on ahead or just leave altogether after I give the other person a deadline. It prevents me from wasting my time, it shows the other person that I value my time and won’t tolerate their rudeness, and it makes me resent them less. I truly don’t understand what is so hard. If someplace takes 30 minutes to get to, simply calculate your departure time. It’s basic math. I have traveled all around the world and mostly just apply my philosophy on punctuality to American culture. A good quote comes to mind: “You may as well borrow a person’s money as his time.”

  • Nikki Prowse

    that’s my sister for ya, she’s even late to HER OWN parties!! it got so bad that we all just started lying about the time she should arrive places. But she’s caught on to us and instead of arriving an hour “late” from the time she’s given, she now knows that we want her to be there at, say, 10 and not really 9, so she’ll usually show up around 10:45ish. Its really frustrating. She thinks that its no big deal and that everyone should stop worrying about when she’ll arrive, but a lot of times its very stressful when we’re trying to keep a schedule or leave for an event.

    But I think my biggest pet peeve is when she tells me over and over to “BE SURE YOU’RE NOT LATE! I really want to be on time this time!” and then I get to her house ready and at least 30 minutes early and she hasn’t even started getting ready and we usually don’t leave the house until whatever event has already started. Now I’m not saying that I’m perfect and always on time. In fact, its pretty common for me to show up EXACTLY on time or 5 minutes late and theres always an excuse… which is really just bad planning, but it seems like being an hour and a half takes practice and planning on its own. How does someone do that consistantly every time?!

    Needless to say, I don’t go to movies with this lady! UGH!

  • Sarah Cox

    My punctuality varies. I’m not uptight about other people’s lateness unless it’s been over 20 minutes and they haven’t called to say what’s keeping them. I can also flip this around and say how I hate when people show up 20 minutes earlier than expected and make me feel rushed for no reason.

  • Emily Spaulding

    I do agree that being late is rude, selfish and inconsiderate to those who are waiting for you. I have been chronically late my ENTIRE life. No matter how early I planned things out, even if I started getting ready 2 hours before my appointment I still would wind up being late. Hell, I even was late to my own father’s funeral service. I’ve also had many situations where I have been late and completely embarrassed by it. I later found out that this is in fact a symptom of ADHD/ADD *which I was diagnosed with about a year and a half ago*. I’m just saying that as much as lateness is annoying and as I said before rude, selfish and inconsiderate….the latecomer may have issues of their own and may feel at times that it is somewhat out of their control.

    • Megan Younce

      Same!! I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Even if I plan earlier, something will happen that makes me late. No matter what. My mother is the same way, and I’ve always teased that she has ADHD, but honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if she and I were both diagnosed.

  • Jason Carstens

    this is why I don’t give “exact” times of when I will show up, I usually give a “window” of about 2 – 3 hours of approximate time I will be there.

  • Wayne Kline

    I have to agree!

  • Jamie Green

    I love this 100%

  • Wendy Marquardsen

    Aaww, this post made me a little sad to read. I do understand where you are coming from, but I fall in the camp that a lot of people do. sometimes I am really early, and sometimes I am running late. I can be comically obsessive about arriving early (like to the airport or theater), and sometimes I’m the unintentional jerk that has to walk in after a social gathering has started.
    I try to be gracious when someone is running late for me, but, I get that is because I’m on the opposite side sometimes. I try not to be late when meeting friends, because I understand they would feel disrespected and inconvenienced. But sometimes, it just happens and I’m usually stressed out enough by that point about being late and fearing an angry friend on the other end that it doubles the stress. i get it, they have been inconvenienced. i just try to be more honest about a time frame when i try to see them, and update them if I am running early or late. because in the end, neither camps are going to change. there have been studies on how some people excel with being managed by the clock, and some people who don’t… and lots of helpful exercises and self improvement reflection to determine why us late bees can’t ‘get our act together’. but that isn’t a short road, and i like to remind myself that it kind of is a cultural thing.
    ~ to tack onto how time is managed- even in early america, it wasn’t uncommon for cities to run 15 minutes ahead or behind of another nearby city. once the railroad was built and passengers were missing their connecting trains, we finally had to have a day devoted to actually synching up the clocks throughout america).
    so… don’t hate us. we are trying to get to the station (cafe/ thanksgiving dinner…) on time.

  • Mandy McDonald

    You obviously don’t have kids… :)

  • Caity Johnson

    thank you!!! this is my #1 pet peeve. in my opinion 5 minutes early is late. the majority of my friends are always 10 to 15 minutes behind schedule and it drives me insane, i really don’t understand why people don’t respect other people’s time. show up at the time that you agreed upon and everyone will be happy.

  • Jen Aguilar

    In the wise words of Fall Out Boy “I set my clocks early cuz I know I’m always late”


  • Nata Rubiano

    You read my mind to write this, right?? Seriously… Awesome

  • Linda Karas

    wow… you hit the nail on the head with this one… i agree 100%!!!

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