Several years ago, when I wasn’t quite sure of my identity as a writer, I posted an article about people being late all the time. In retrospect, it may have been overly harsh and could’ve hurt the feelings of some of the people I hold dear. Now, having the benefit of some much-needed self-discovery, I realize that y’all are still doing the same bullshit. JESUS CHRIST! Can 2017 be the year that y’all stop being late all the damn time!? Specifically, can you stop being late to things that affect the schedules of others? Even more specifically and perhaps the real root of my gripe: can you stop being late to things that affect me? Look, I get it: you value your own time more than that of others – most people do – but this cavalier attitude about when I get to eat, or relax, or play ball is getting utterly disrespectful.
You people know who you are. I don’t need to clarify it at all. Everyone has these folks in their lives. No need for me to describe the different classifications… but as a serious journalist I feel I should be thorough.
And here they are:
The Apologizer: “I’m sooooooooooooo sorry. Like SO sorry. I know I was supposed to be here 8 minutes ago. Did we miss it? Oh, no. Is everyone else here?… I really feel bad about this.”
Yeah, I said 8 minutes. And some of you scoffed like “is this dude really trippin off of 8 minutes?” You’re goddamn right. You’re late. But just so you can get past that, let’s make it 20 minutes, ok? – doesn’t change my point. I don’t care about your apology unless it gets me my 8… er 20 minutes back.
The Excuse-maker: “You’re never going to believe what happened. I was on my way when a family of urban crocodiles crossed the street not five feet away from my car. They just sat there in the road for like 8 minutes – otherwise I would’ve been on time. Pictures? Nah, I wasn’t even thinking. I was in shock.”
Your first sentence is the only truthful thing you just said: I’m never going to believe that bullshit. Grow up. You’re late, it’s your own fault and no one else’s. Just admit it so we can work on the problem.
The Drama Queen: “My life is such a mess. Work is a mess, it’s not going so well with my partner, I can’t get along with my family. No one understands me. I can’t even make it to lunch on time!”
Stop right there, fam. Let’s explore that last bit. I’m sorry; I thought we were meeting for lunch, not a complementary therapy session. Do you have a Groupon for this or…? We’re cool and everything but until I get my sandwich I don’t give a shit about your family, just like you don’t give a shit about my time or hunger. I know that sounds harsh but as my friend you should know how I get when I’m hungry.
The Denier: “Late? What? (checks watch) I’m not late. It’s only 7:08. What about the 10-minute buffer?
Let me tell y’all something. There is nothing in the social contract that states you get a 10-minute buffer before you can be considered late. Late-ass people invented that myth. You get 2-3 minutes to account for variances in people’s watches and clocks but other than that, late is late is late.
The Oblivious: “Hay giiiirl! I know you saw that episode last night, right? Can you believe it!?” Etc. and so on.
Some people genuinely have no idea they are late all the fucking time. They live in a world where time doesn’t exist. It’s a magical place. However, it’s your duty as a resident of the actual world to inform them how we do things on this planet. Be careful: it’s possible that this person isn’t oblivious at all and is simply quite cunning, using this ruse to divert your attention from her lateness. Stay focused and hold her accountable.
The Texter: It’s 2 minutes before you’re supposed to meet. You get a text: “Hey sry I’m going 2b 20 minutes late. See you soon!”
Not soon enough, is it!? And you knew that shit a half hour ago. It only takes me 10 minutes to get here so had you had the consideration to let me know, I could’ve had some extra relaxation time at home instead of sitting here at this bar by myself like some loser.
All that said, please continue being late to your job, or to meetings or whatever. That’s your journey. If you lose your paycheck it’s not really going to hurt me. In fact, maybe you won’t be able to afford to do as many social things and I can start doing more things on time, without you. I just don’t know when it became the norm for people to just show up late to things and, worse, I don’t know when this trend will end. Look, everyone is late from time to time – but when you’re consistently 10 or 20 (or 8) minutes late, just start leaving that amount of time earlier than you usually do! It’s just math!
Luckily there are a few tricks that you (as a punctual person) can employ to defend against these affronts – or at least give yourself a little pleasure at the expense of the tardy:
- Be petty: If someone is late to a dinner or bar gathering, order a round of drinks or appetizers for the people who came on time. Make sure to finish the apps before they arrive so they can’t partake and be sure to make it known that they missed out on the free stuff.
- Establish buffers: This is an age-old trick. You know, in general, how late your friends tend to be. When you organize a gathering, tailor what you inform them the start time of the event is to account for their lateness. It’s not an exact science but sometimes you get the benefit of them being somewhere earlier than you and that magical jolt of joy you feel for having them wait for you for a change.
- Don’t invite late folks to time-sensitive events: Hey, if it means that much to you, just don’t invite them sometimes. It doesn’t mean you don’t care for them; it just means you don’t care to be late today.
- Don’t wait: If your late friend is meeting you at the movies, absolutely DO NOT wait for them outside of the theater. Get your ticket. Get your snacks. Get your fine, punctual ass in a seat before the lights get low. Look, I’m color blind and have poor vision to begin with. When those lights go out I can’t see shit. You’re not going to have me tripping all over the place and going down aisles that are full because I can’t see that there are people in the seats. I’m going to get to my seat while the commercials are still on – not the previews, the commercials for the TV shows you’re not going to watch – when the theater is as bright as the lobby. I’ll even save you a seat but good luck finding me – I’m watching this movie.
- Maintain your levels: There are scientific happiness measures (probably) that you can actively maintain to control your mood and sanity.
- Bullshit tolerance: (typically 300-400 parts per million) Once you reach it, take no more. Beware of the Excuse-makers on this one.
- Happiness quotient: This is unique for everyone but in general you know when you start to feel shitty because of someone else. Don’t let that happen – put your friend on timeout until your levels get to a safe place.
- Calm/stress ratio: Also called the Morpheus Ratio. Remember, in the Matrix, when shit was going askew? Morpheus always maintained a good balance of excitement and calm – lit when he needed to be, but otherwise smooth as $300 scotch. That’s you. In general, your Morpheus ratio should never be less than 1. If anyone is constantly throwing off this or any of your levels you need to strongly consider cutting them out of your life.
Don’t take this the wrong way, folks. I wrote this because I love you and want you to be part of my life. Or either, I kinda like you and can’t really avoid you if I tried. In either case, try to consider others when you think you have to finish that last episode before you leave the house. It’s 2017; that episode will still be there for you later. Keep being late to shit and I may not.