04 February 2010

Clocks...Not Just For Decoration Anymore

I am super into being on time.  While I have many neuroses and pet peeves, lateness is probably in the top 5.  In fact I am so known for my annoyance at lateness that I may have given some of my in-laws a complex. The words “You know how Lexi hates it when we are late” have been uttered many a time.  While my gut response to that statement is “No, people in the real world hate it when people are late,”  over time I have come to understand that there are many reasons why people are late, and not all of them are because they a rude or inconsiderate of others…at least not consciously. 

Thankfully in my line of work lateness is rarely a big deal since the only one who suffers from things being “off schedule” is me when I say, miss the window of opportunity for a nap, or wind up with a seriously hungry pre-schooler on my hands.  However, I am generally on time for actual events such as doctors appointments, meetings with the financial planner etc.  Though it does make the lateness of others so much more annoying since I reckon hells bells, if I can get somewhere on time with two little ones and no brains to speak of, then how hard can it possibly be….oh wait…I guess very hard… If you feel the need to waste my (still very) valuable time by being chronically late then you probably fall into one of these groups.

The Genuinely Late- This situation gets a pass.  Even very punctual people are sometimes late because life happens.  Car trouble, unexpected traffic, children by their mere existence and so on can conspire to take a well managed task right into tardy-town. I hate being in this spot, though it happens so what are ya going to do? However, if you always seem to be late because of some kind of crisis, then you probably actually fit into one of these other categories.

People Who Just Don’t Care
- We all know these guys, they are the ultimate narcissists.  Whether they perceive that other people don’t matter, or that only their desires matter, they come and go as they please with no real concern for the impact on others.  Most likely they just feel that whatever they are doing, or want to be doing, at any given time is the most important thing and the rest will wait for them. While they may not actively seek to be inconsiderate, they are not the least bit bothered to discover that that they have inconvenienced someone. These people bleed into the category of…

People Who Will Not Sacrifice Their Perceived Needs- These are people who truly believe that they cannot shower in under 20 minutes, leave without breakfast, skip their morning muffing stop or whatever it is they think they must do.  Granted this idea on its own may not make you late, but if you also lack time management skills or can‘t be flexible about these needs, soon this becomes a problem.  People with that combination can also fall under the category of…

People Who Can  Not Hurry
- These people don’t so much enjoy routine as much as they are a slave to it.  While 99.9% of the time this is no big deal since these types, as with the above people, will generally sacrifice the needed time to accommodate this phenomenon, it is a problem when time is of the essence.  Whether we have to be somewhere in 3 hours or 30 minutes, the prep time is the same, no negotiations, so heaven forbid you need to be out the door now and the toothpaste hasn’t been applied in just the right manner.  If this sounds a bit like you, then you may also be…

People Who Are Unaware of How Long Things Take To Do- You all know this person.  You need to be somewhere in 20 minutes  and your friend figures it will be no problem, to load the dishwasher, check her e-mail, put on some mascara, feed the dog, get gas, get cash and pick up coffee.  While this behavior is rooted in the glorious notion of multi-tasking and never wasting a minute, it can soon backfire.  Often these types are also…

People Who Do Not Perceive Time As A Law Of Physics
- My sister fits this one to a “T.”  When she rambles off to do something, she would be best timed with a calendar yet to her, it really only has been five minutes.  It is possible that these people fall under the heading of “Just Not Caring,” but I think they are genuinely surprised when they learn that their 20 minutes of errands has made them an hour late for dinner.  These are the accidental inconsiderate narcissists. This is probably also due to them being….

People Who Are Poor Prioritizes
- If you do need to be out the door in ten minutes, now is not the time to be filing last years tax receipts.  I am often guilty of this since I am unable to limit myself to just one quick task and soon find that “just putting one dish in the sink on my way out the door,” now has me sweeping the front hallway.  Really , none of this needed to be done before we went to the park, yet here I am.  I think this phenomenon also has something to do with not being able to stay on task, or getting distracted by the next task, but no matter, at the end of the day it is all about drawing the line somewhere, and that can be hard.

The thing about all the above people is that while they can be chronically late, a habit so irritating to those around them, with the possible exception of the first category, they do not mean to be late, or inconsiderate.  This chronic lateness only becomes rude when no attempt is made to remedy the problem, or at least acknowledge the impact it has on others.  However, there is one group of people who are well aware of their lateness and are consciously choosing to waste the time of others.

Lastly, but most annoyingly, we have

People Who Use Lateness As A Passive Aggressive Tool
- If you don’t want to go to the family reunion, be as late as possible.  This not only sends a clear message that you don’t think the event is a priority, but your late arrival will draw all the attention to you ensuring that you can “be late at” Aunt Joan who once commented she hated your perm.  Don’t like the restaurant choice, drag your feet getting out the door.  You get the idea.  This group also included lateness as an attention getting tool.  People who won’t just stand up and say what they want/need can delay themselves into everyone focusing on them and their secret burning needs.

So, with all that said, lets all set our watches ahead a few minutes and recognize that we all probably fall into some of these categories.  The first step to reforming pesky behaviors is recognizing the root cause of the problem.  Now, I must hide my cleaning supplies so I stand a chance of getting out the door on time to get my Mum at the airport...