On walkabout in life and technology


punc·tu·al /ˈpəNGkCHo͞oəl/

1. Happening or doing something at the agreed or proper time; on time.
2. Denoting or relating to an action that takes place at a particular point in time.

precise - exact - accurate - prompt

One of my many peeves is with people who are not punctual. If we schedule a call or a meeting at a given time, I will be there, on time, prepared and ready to go. It’s only right that others do the same.

10:00 AM means “At exactly ten o'clock in the morning”, not 10:15 AM or 10:30 AM or later.

It really is easy to be punctual. We are surrounded by timepieces, on our computers, phones and even on our wrists. Our lives are all scheduled in calendars which automatically bleep reminders to all our devices in advance of an event. And we all know what’s in our daily plans because we continually check them, so it’s not hard to ensure we can be on time to each event.

Tardiness is disrespectfulness. A tardy person implies that they believe their time is more valuable than others, or in other words, they disrespect others. I take it personally when someone is 15 minutes late and offers no excuse. And I take it even more personally if the excuse is lame, or they could have called to let me know they were running late beforehand.

In fact, these days there is no excuse after the fact for being tardy. If your previous event is running late, or your transport is gridlocked, send a text or an email before the fact. Let others know that you are trying to be there on time and the circumstances in advance for being late. If the other person can accommodate, all is well. If they cannot, reschedule there and then. At least you respect them enough to alert them and give them a choice.

Now I understand that there are cultures where punctuality is not the norm. And douchebags who like to keep others waiting as part of their power games. I do not live in that culture, and I am not a power player nor politician. I have, in fact, gotten up and walked away on several occasions where I knew the person was alone in their room, but was making me wait on purpose.

And I accept that there are certain areas where service providers, like Doctors and Dentists, cannot schedule as tightly as they would like because they cannot know in advance just how long each consult will take and so make people wait. In that scenario, there’s still no excuse for the patient to be tardy, it holds up all later patients.

Whether or not you can plan the length of each consult, trust George Washington:

Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Careful to keep your Promise.

A person who is punctual:

  • Has integrity, they make and keep their promises.
  • Is dependable, you know they will be there on time.
  • Has discipline, they planned to be prompt and are most likely also better prepared.
  • Has respect for others, as they are available as agreed when others are available too.
  • Is not a thief. If “Time is Money” then tardy folks waste punctual people’s time, burn their money and are therefore thieves (according to Washington).
  • Respects the relationship, a punctual person values the time they spend in the relationship.

So next time we schedule something, know that I will be there on-time out of respect for you and your time. I expect you to do the same. And if you are going to be late, text me, let me know in advance so I can manage my time better. Surely that’s a small thing to ask and an even smaller thing to grant.

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