You Are Late.

Posted: 10 September 2009 in observations
Tags: , , ,

I am here waiting and I have been here waiting 13 minutes.  I wasn’t even on time.  I was 2 minutes late.  This isn’t the first time I’ve waited, in fact, I have waited so many times that I have, in essence, stopped waiting.  This is why you’ll find me working in my office at 13 past instead of at your darkened door, waiting.

At first, I attributed it to your busy schedule.  You are more important than I am and so that gives you the necessary leeway (both because you have more power and because you are more involved) to arrive a bit late from back-to-back meetings.  After being in some of these meetings with you, I observed that you often schedule things on top of one another, without regard to when one event starts and another ends.  You seem content to believe that your presence for any amount of time is more valuable than the disruption.

I tolerate (though barely) your propensity to let your own meetings run long.  Once you start talking, you make astute comments and offer helpful solutions to problems.  Since you are the best person to get something done, I’m willing to stay past the end of the meeting (so long as it doesn’t make me more than a minute or two late for the next one) in order to benefit from your thoughts and experience.  These laudable attributes do not make up for the fact that your lateness is often due to poor time management. It’s okay to simply say, “I’m sorry but I have to go now” and recognize that you aren’t missing anything that can’t be caught up on later.  Although I don’t know the real justification, I assume you aren’t intentionally devaluing your colleagues’ time over your own, and that it isn’t your perception of your own elevated importance that makes it acceptable to make those around you wait.

I’m not so tightly wound as to never be occasionally late myself.  Professionally, I’m usually mostly on time, meaning I might be a minute early but that I’m usually not more than a few minutes late.  When I am late, it is with honest apologies and a fair bit of contrition.  I would attribute this to a previous career in the heart of government bureaucracy, but experience offered a few folks like you there, too.  Notably, one supervisor who arrived daily between 2 and 3pm, read the paper until 4:30 and then expected me to sit with him while he made phone calls and read email, usually for at least an hour.  You are better than he was, but you still are not here.  And, I am still waiting,

I’m more tolerant of flexible timing in my personal life.  Sometimes I am later than I want to be.  Sometimes I bring something to read because I know I’ll be early.  If you’re late and we don’t need to be somewhere, I’m happy to be patient.  Perhaps if we were friends, it wouldn’t matter.  Unfortunately, I work for you and while I wait, I work less effectively.  I can’t plan to be anywhere else and I’m inefficient for constantly looking at the clock.  When you arrive, sometimes as much as an hour later, I’ll be waiting.  It’s unfortunate for us both that I was at my best 60 minutes earlier.

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