RSSBobbie Horowitz

Legendary image consultant ("Healthy, Wealthy &... Read more


“Why Is He/She Always Late?!”

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Do you know people who always seem to be late? Some are always really late. Some are just a few minutes late.  Some of the people I’m most fond of are always a bit late.  I’ve often asked myself why I continue making plans to meet them. The meetings in question may be for social occasions and/or business meetings. Why hang out with people who are always late?  The friend may be a fabulous friend whom you love spending time with and sharing concerns and joys with. They may be successful and seem to have all the elements of life in place, but for some reason they can never make it to an appointment at the scheduled time.

I recently started looking at this because another friend and I are almost always early to anything that’s been scheduled.  I used to think that that made us better people.  It meant that we cared about people and didn’t want to keep them waiting.  I will agree that both my “early friend” and I do care about people. However, my “late friend” also cares about people.

When I sat still and meditated on this question, I could hear my dad’s voice saying, “C’mon Barbara you don’t want to be late”, as we were preparing for the day. We lived in Brooklyn at the time. He was getting ready to go to his law office in Manhattan. I was getting ready to go to kindergarten as my school, which was around the corner from our apartment.  My Dad took it upon himself to walk me to school because he figured he had to leave the house anyway and, this way, my mom wouldn’t have to rush.  He adored my mom. I’ve talked about my Dad taking me to school in a previous column. That was about his joking that I took seriously.  I don’t want to make this sound as though my dad wasn’t the most wonderful loving dad. I know he loved me with all his heart.  He was a partner in my mom’s dad’s law firm. My Grandpa was the senior and founding partner and my dad did not want to keep him waiting and get that look.

I know that it’s getting to sound as though I should have titled this column, “Why Is He/She Always Early?!” The more I look at the issue of the tendency to be late or early, the more I realize that, once again, it once again, goes back to “You’ve Got To Be Taught”. Some degree of fear seems to always at the center of behavior that’s not dead center.   I now realize that my wonderful, sharply dressed and handsome dad had fears of his own. He was afraid he’d be late. He must have been taught this. Until now I figured he was taught it at the office, but now I’m beginning to see that these habitual thoughts seem to develop earlier.

At first I thought my friend, who was/is always late must care about being in the spotlight and having everyone concerned about what may be keeping her. She may be that – and if she is that probably has come from some early teaching about time. She grew up far away from me, so I didn’t know her and was never in her home when she was young. Her nature is caring, so this had to be taught to her at a young age. The people who taught it probably had no idea they were teaching it.

I’m writing this to point out that you can forgive friends who are always late and, now that we have cell phones, you can call them before they would have left their home (to get there on time) and tell them that you need to leave the appointment, etc at a certain time. That usually moves them. If the two of you are close, you can laugh when you say that and tell them you love them. You’ll be forgiving them and saying yes to yourself about time.

Please forgive yourself for your any time neurosis you may have. I’ve made a joke of it. I say, “I’m the only person I know who can leave late and get there early!”  Understand that very few people haven’t been taught anything silly about time. Take a deep breath and quiet down and look at the time it would usually take to get to the place in question. Then leave at the required time and assume you’ll get there close to the time planned. Living today we almost can never totally predict traffic patterns.  That goes for walking too. Try to notice when you’re automatically responding to teachings that came from frightened people and “un-frighten” yourself and enjoy the trip. Give yourself a big smile, leave at the time that’s been estimated to work for this trip, RELAX  & Say YES To You.

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2 Responses to this article

bobbie May 14, 2012 Reply

Dear Carol,

I totally agree with you. I don’t mean to imply that understanding that they have problems means you should let them be late when it affects you. I’d need to let that teacher go, if I were the principal or dean.

I’m merely saying that they’re not “evil”. No one is. They don’t know any better and if they’re not willing to learn – it will make it easier on you if you can fire them and, at the same time, forgive them. You don’t have to think that you are in any way a cause of their lateness. Some people can’t hear the kindness that you offered by being willing to teach them to be on time. I don’t want to hang out with late people – and – it helps me to not have to hate them. I just stay away.

Carolbaker May 14, 2012 Reply

I had an employee, a part-timer who was a school teacher who was chronically late. And I’m not talking occasionally, I mean always. Other people had to make sure they were even earlier to pick up her slack and I decided to have a talk with her (gently) that resulted in tears and a tantrum. I asked her if she permitted her high school students to turn in assignments late with no consequences and she admitted, she did not. I asked why I should hold her to a lower standard than I should a teenager. She agreed I should not. It resolved nothing. She refused to make a commitment to be on time. Maybe it’s just me. I think punctuality is a matter of courtesy. I don’t appreciate people who are chronically late and always have to make an “entrance”.

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