Diane DeMasi

Freelance Writer & Author

The Non-P.C. Talk About Lateness

53HWe all have those people in our life that run late, constantly, incessantly, annoyingly late. Like everyone, I struggle to call these people out. I don’t want to hurt their feelings.

Today, I’m laying out the problem with lateness. If it changes just one late person’s ways, I feel that’s an accomplishment. If it just gives those who wait on these people a moment of “Thank you!” then, again, I consider that an accomplishment.

Now, I have a hard time getting inside the brain of a late person. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all late at some point in our lives. The average person is on time more than they’re late. I’m talking about those who are late all the time. The rare moments when they arrive on time we freak out because obviously the world is ending.

I assume inside the late person’s brain is something like: Should I wear yellow or blue? Oh I’m running late, hmmm, oh well, maybe red?

That’s my angry thought side. What’s probably happening is some chaotic scramble of trying to get out of the house at a reasonable time. That frustrates me. Most of the people I know are like me…middle age. I cannot fathom how after 40+ years they cannot figure out how to get themselves out at a normal time. They still have no concept of accounting for prep, possible delays, travel, errand stops, and arrival by a designated time.

I’m going to call this as I see it. And late people won’t like it. And it’s not a politically correct view. Late people, you are rude. You are disrespectful to your family and friends. It is utterly selfish to assume people should consistently wait on you.

As a person who has wasted many good hours of my life waiting on late people, I’ll tell you why you’re lateness is a problem.

When you’re coming to visit, especially to enjoy a meal, the host (yes, despite being family or super close friends you are still guests) sets aside a time frame. So if we figure on dinner at four, we assume 3:30 is a good arrival time. We figure you’ll stay 2 to four hours (more than enough for a visit – unless you don’t live within a 1.5 hour driving distance). We get up, we clean our home, we plan the meal, we plan on stopping all our chores and to-dos for your visit. Because we want to devote time to you. We care about you.

Now when you show up late, as in thirty minutes to an hour and a half late, everything is shot. We have no clue when to start the meal, cause we don’t want to over cook it. We don’t want to serve it cold. And Heaven forbid if you’re bringing something and it’s not ready-to-serve when you arrive, well then there’s another problem. ┬áMind you, we hosts are twiddling our thumbs playing the guessing game of “How late will they be?” Can I get started on a project or no? Instead we sit around with anxiety building because we can’t get involved in something in case you arrive. You are wasting our precious time. And if you stay later to make up for your late arrival, you’re really killing us. We set aside a time frame that we worked within and we planned on this downtime that we now don’t get. Just because you don’t abide by the time doesn’t mean we weren’t already on it. You are taking away more of our precious time.

What if you aren’t arriving at someone’s house? What if you’re in a carpool? Well again, you are wasting people’s time. We are idling gas away waiting for you. We have woken and gotten ourselves ready with the assumption that you will be on time. So when we sit around watching the clock tick away ten, fifteen minutes of our time, we’re frustrated that you didn’t call and give us the option or consideration of leaving without you. And if we are in a carpool because we don’t have a car on a certain day, you’re lateness is like holding us hostage.

When you show up late for a coffee date, we’ve cleared this time to┬áspend with you. You’re lack of regard is like a slap in the face. “Your time means nothing to me. I don’t care that you could have done something else, you must wait on me.”

That’s how we take it. A slap. An ego too big to care about others making time for you. Do you ever wonder why people don’t have you over as often? It’s because we’re exhausted and we don’t have time to waste. We’d love to get together with you, but it’s hard to have respect for someone who doesn’t share respect for you.

That being said. Understand, we still love you. We love you because you’re family. We love you because you’re our friend. We love your sense of humor. We love visiting with you. We truly love you. But we are great compartmentalizers, so while we love you as a person, we still hate you when you’re late.

Not the most succinct or polite point of view, but in all honesty, politically correct responses are wishy-washy and vague.