Here’s why I hate late

Image: Elisha Terada

I seem to have a knack for attracting habitual late-comers. While I am also, on occasion, guilty of being late, to be on the receiving end of the waiting game makes me wonder what is it about people that makes them mindless about other people’s time?

I hate being late myself. As a student, as an employee, as a friend or as a member of a community, being late for a meeting or an interview makes me anxious. The thought that someone is waiting for me while I try to drag myself through heavy traffic is a double whammy. That traffic though, is something I could have avoided had I left the house early.

How can some people bear to arrive late and not even show any sign of remorse or shame that they have kept you hanging out to dry?

Here are some of the common denominators that I have observed among habitually late people:

  1. They have no sense of time — not yours, not theirs. Regardless of what studies suggest that latecomers are often artistic, the fact remains that managing time entails discipline and a healthy sense of respect for others’ time and the effort they spent just to arrive at the meeting place on the mutually agreed time. Besides, a true artist is one who commits to the discipline demanded of him by his craft. A later study reveals that habitual late-comers are actually insane, for purposely sabotaging their own plans. Now, whether that is a sign of narcissism or other mental dysfunction is beyond the scope of a pent-up blogger.
  2. It is their time and pace that matter, not yours. It does not matter if you hurried yourself through a shower, if you skipped breakfast just to beat the traffic, or if you even cancelled a prior engagement just to meet with them. They will come when it is most convenient for them.
  3. They can be untruthful. Ask them where they are and they will actually tell you where you wish and hope they would be by that time in the duration of their commute. If they could get away with it, they would not even update you of their current whereabouts.
  4. They put you on the spot. The worst waiting game I ever sat in was when I was made to believe that our meeting time was 9:00 am. I arrived at 8:45 am. When I got there, I was told that one of our companions will be “a little late” doing errands. Lo and behold, they arrived THREE hours later. This, after much debate that I would just go ahead to the venue of the activity. They kept telling me they were already approaching the meeting place. This went on for three hours until they arrived. In fairness to them, they were sincerely sorry and never did it again.

I tried to sit it out for the sake of charity. However, I can’t deny that my mood was utterly destroyed. I was no longer happy to see them or that they arrived. What’s worse, I was no longer eager to participate in the activity that we were attending. As far as I’m concerned, I remained faithful to my word that I will be there on the mutually agreed time. But they did not honor their commitment with me. It left me feeling overstepped instead of charitable.

5.They act like nothing happened. I find it most annoying when they arrive close to an hour late, acting as if they were only 10 minutes late, with no traces of shame or remorse and they just give you a very casual “Soweee…” as if to charm their way out of it.

I understand that one of the negative traits of the Filipino is ‘Filipino time’. Filipinos tend to always be late, long before we had traffic problems. When you tell a Filipino to meet up at 8:30, they take it to mean 9 or 9:30. Some people I know even admit that the agreed meeting time is the time they start preparing to leave the house — shower, meal, dressing up, commute included. So, if the meeting time is 8:30, they will tend to arrive at around 10:00.

My only wish is that some people would be a little bit more mindful and considerate: not all Filipinos love being late.

I recall the experience of a former co-teacher of mine when I was teaching college. Being the professional that she was (and still is), she always arrived early to give herself time to relax before conducting her class. For some reason, that day was especially trying for her.

Almost half of her class was late, and it wasn’t even raining. I could imagine how frustrated she was when her anger at the class moved her to tears! She made sure that her message was sent across when she bravely called everyone out. “You people are so selfish!

I had a highschool friend who agreed to meet up with me and hang out for a few drinks over the weekend. When I arrived at the agreed time and place, she was nowhere to be found. Knowing how she tends to be late, I decided to extend my patience and sit it out for about 15 minutes — a tolerable and acceptable window when waiting for someone. I ordered a beer and sat there quietly enjoying my drink.

I kept texting her to ask where she might be, and she kept answering that she was on her way. About 45 minutes after, I was becoming irritable, as I was already on my second bottle. When she arrived, she had a bunch of barbeque which she bought. Now, considering that this would have been a lovely gesture, the fact remains that she didn’t even let me know that she got held up as she waited for the barbeque to be cooked. To be quite honest, I would much rather settle for her presence empty-handed than making me sit there and wait when all she told me was that she was on her way. The truth was, she was not on her way. She was waiting for the barbeque to be served her.

One could argue that this is a bit harsh. But in reality, being habitually late demonstrates a behavior that is deeper than merely not making it on time. It sends out a clear signal that the habitually late person does not care about others. It is indeed, self-centered.

The behavior can disrupt harmony between people, especially when the one who tends to be at the waiting game had enough. To be mindless and inconsiderate of your time as they focus largely on their own routine is not only selfish, it is also disrespectful. Never mind that you had to take a cab and spend extra money as opposed to taking your usual fare, just to get there fast and not keep anybody waiting.

Yet, we cry out for change. We throw fists in the air demanding that the universe make a visible, concrete change that would make this world a better place to live in.

I think at 40, I am in a point of my life where I’m willing to avoid habitual latecomers. I just don’t have the time.

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