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Today’s blog may come across as a little ranty, that is not entirely my intention as I am interested in other people’s views on this issue.

Lateness. I have always hated being late. I do my best to arrive somewhere 5-10minutes early – not too early so as to make people uncomfortable, but early enough to ensure that I don’t end up being late if I am held up on my way to my destination. I hate being late. There is something that I find inherently rude about being late to something, even if it is through no fault of my own. This is why I work hard to never be late. Obviously I have failed sometimes, but I am always apologetic.

Recently we started a new study at work and the current group of people who we are interviewed are always late. Out of the past 50 appointments we had 1 person show up 10 minutes early and maybe 3 show up on time. The average arrival time was 15 minutes after their scheduled appointment. This is incredibly frustrating. We are a research clinic and we are busy; we plan our day around the specific appointment times. What I find to be most irksome are the people (I’d say about 20% of them) who show up 30mins to an hour late. The majority of these people don’t even comment on their lateness. They waltz in and sit down as if nothing were wrong. I ask their name and confirm the time their appointment was and they say (at 10:30am) “I’m here for my 9:30am appointment”. There’s no hint of apology, not even any acknowledgement that they’re late. In fact, the one time I had to turn a person away because we no longer had time to see her (she showed up 2 hours late) she got really mad and seemed incredibly surprised that being late would cause a problem.

This is where I’m confused. Don’t people have doctor’s or other meetings they go to? I couldn’t imagine showing up to a doctor’s appointment half an hour late and expecting to be seen right away without a problem.
Other people have schedules too!

Timeliness is important to me, not only does lateness mess up my day in many respects (keeping everyone happy at work!) but I find that a lack of timeliness, especially a consistent lack of timeliness sends a message of disrespect. It gives a message of “my time is more important that yours and I expect you to reorganize your day around what I want”. I know that I am not the only one who thinks this, but I also know that other people do not necessarily hold my view. My boyfriend (a person who seems to believe that 30mins late is better than 5 minutes early) and I frequently discuss this. He doesn’t believe that there is any disrespect meant in most cases of lateness, even chronic lateness, and that it’s more a statement as to what type of person (disorganized, etc) the late person is.

One thing we both agree on though is that if you are late to an appointment or meeting you should apologize for doing so. I really can’t understand what’s going on at work where people don’t seem to even notice that they’re late, or realize that that could cause problems for us or even result in their appointment being cancelled.

What do you think? Does lateness matter? Is the behavior of our current research participants weird? I can’t imagine ever behaving that way!