How did it get to be ‘OK’ for people to be late for everything?

This post may offend some readers, recruiters or not. But only because it’s going to cut close to the bone for many.

And I don’t care if I sound old-fashioned, because actually it’s nothing to do with ‘fashion’ or ‘generation’. It’s got everything to do with basic good manners and respect for other people.

So here goes… How did it get to be “OK” for people to be late for everything?

Because as far as I am concerned, it’s not OK.

In recent years it seems that a meeting set to start at 9 am, for some people means in the general vicinity of any time which starts with the numeral ‘9’. Like 9.30 for example.

People drift in at 9.10 or 9.20, or even later. And they smile warmly at the waiting group, as they unwrap their bacon sandwich, apparently totally unconcerned that others have been there since five to nine, prepared and ready to start.

10 people kept waiting in a meeting for 20 minutes, while some selfish pratt who idles his way via the coffee shop, is actually 20 minutes times 10, which is 200 minutes wasted – while you keep us waiting because you did not catch the earlier bus. That is over 3 hours wasted. By you! How much has that cost the business? Shall I send you an invoice?

And an arrangement to meet someone for a business meeting at a coffee shop at 3 pm, more often than not means at 3.10 you get a text saying ‘I am five minutes away’ which inevitably means 10 minutes, and so you wait for 15 or 20 minutes, kicking your heels in frustration.

And often these ‘latecomers’ are people who have requested the meeting in the first place, are asking for your help, or are selling something. Fat chance mate!

And of course this has massive application to the recruitment industry, where lateness is both commonplace and hugely damaging to your personal and corporate brand.

And it’s not only business.

Why do people, invited for a dinner party at 7.30, think its cool to arrive at 8.30? It’s rude. It’s inconsiderate. And it’s selfish, as I witnessed in a coffee shop near my home one weekend. Three “ladies who lunch” (a species not confined to, but heavily represented on, the lower North Shore of Sydney) were chatting loudly at the table next to me. One inquired what time the ‘drinks do’ was that night. The reply for all the world to hear was ‘Oh 7.30, but we won’t get there till 9 because by then it will have warmed up and all the interesting people will have arrived’. Nice. Imagine if everyone took that view. Cocktail parties would start at 3 am eventually.

Or a dinner at a restaurant where I was meeting two other couples. My wife was away, so I was flying solo. I arrived at two minutes to eight for an eight o’clock booking. At 8.20, I was into my second glass of Pinot and at half-past I got a text saying ‘on the way’. We finally were all seated at 8.45. There were not even attempted excuses from either of the two couples, who seemed oblivious to the fact I might actually have got there at the agreed time. Meanwhile I had put a huge dent in the bottle of Pinot, and was ready to go home.

And it is not that we lead ‘busy lives’. That’s a given, we all do, and it’s a cop out to use that as an excuse. It’s simply that some people no longer even pretend that they think your time is as important as theirs. And technology makes it worse. It seems texting or emailing that you are late somehow means you are no longer late.


You are rude. And inconsiderate.

Me? Am I ever late? Sure, sometimes. That’s inevitable even with the best intentions. But I never plan to be late. I never ‘let time slide’ because my stuff is more important than yours.

I am not talking about the odd occasion of lateness. I am talking about people who are routinely late. In fact, never on time. You know who I am talking about!

And certainly I consider serial lateness a character flaw which I take into account when working out who to promote, who to hire and who to count amongst my real friends.

It’s that important.

This article was picked up by the Huffington Post and shared almost half a million times. It also got featured on the US Today Show on Television.

About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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179 Responses to How did it get to be ‘OK’ for people to be late for everything?

  1. Jeff Robinson March 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    HI Greg,
    I’m with you a 100% on this. I wrote this piece here, I hope you find it interesting:
    All the best,
    Jeff Robinson

  2. Brian May 14, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    I find it hard to count on one hand the amount of times a recruiter is fleeting with time when returning a call, meeting me for coffee or commenced a meeting or interview.

    Pot, kettle anyone?

    • Greg Savage May 14, 2012 at 10:05 am #

      Not THIS pot Brian. My point really……

  3. Wendy May 20, 2012 at 2:22 am #

    You have a very USA-centric approach to time. So do I. Typically my arrival to places is early, and I quip that if I’m late I’m either dead or maimed. Then I met someone who’s attitude was “If I get a call from you which delays my arrival where I had planned to be, I will give my full attention to you until the need is met and I can move on.” Think polychronic rather than monochronic. Though this fellow often ran late, he also often stopped what he was doing in order to lend a listening ear. I began to revise my understanding of time when he was late realizing that something more important than meeting “me” may have occurred in his journey to meet me. I think the title to your blog merits some introspection…. I would argue that sometimes when we demand promptness from others we are the victims of thinking that the world should be molded around us and our timelines. I am all for common courtesy, but I am also for giving grace to others rather than assuming I know their half of the story.

    • Greg Savage May 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

      Thanks for your comments Wendy. It’s cool you feel I “have a very USA -centric approach to time”. Not sure why that would be seeing as I was born and brought up in Africa and live in Australia….

    • Sandra October 31, 2013 at 12:00 am #

      Yes, it’s not OKto waste peoples time. Consider that the meeting may be a waste if that persons time?

    • Rob October 31, 2013 at 10:27 am #

      USA-centric? Not hardly. People here in the US are just as rude. I just ran an event that was supposed to start at 6:00pm. The first guest arrived at 6:10, and the next at 6:16. Of the guests, 1/6th did not arrive at all, and of those, only 1/5 even bothered to apologize. The rest no-showed, no-excused. Oh well – they don’t get their money back, and their food went to a local homeless shelter.

      And frankly, I don’t care who/what the latecomer might have run into – a little common courtesy goes a long way.

      Greg, you’re way to kind for having waited. I would have left at 8:15, and said, “too bad, so sad, maybe next time you’ll let me know you’re running late instead of leaving me hanging.”

    • Dave November 1, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

      Poppycock, both about USA-centricity and the fell.a who often runs late because he received a more-important-than-you call (he is but a poor time planner)

  4. Deborah Musolff June 7, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Excellent blog. I will put my hand up and say I do struggle with being late because I think I can do more in the time I have than I can do. I grew up this way as well with my mom always making the fam show up everywhere quite late, and I was always the last kid to be picked up from school. I had one friend who made a huge impression on me when I was 15 minutes late to band practice. She said, “Deb, I don’t care if you want to start at 7:15, but I’ve been sitting at my drum set for 15 minutes waiting. If you respect me, and my time, be here at 7, or make the start time 7:15 so I can do other things until then.” I was never late again to band practice.
    One simple thing for someone like me who thinks they can fit more in than they can is to aim for an earlier time and convince yourself that’s the time you need to be there, that way if something gets in the way, you still turn up on time. The only thing I can’t seem to overcome is what to do when 3 of my buses fly past my stop because they’re full or there are accidents on the Harbour bridge…perhaps maybe I just shouldn’t live all the way in Dee Why! 😉

  5. Gumbercules June 12, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    As far as I’m concerned if you’re not 5 minutes early you’re going to be 5 minutes late.

  6. Alistair August 6, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    …and how true.

    Rant 1).
    I travelled 6 hours return via car, train, tube and foot to London for an interview (satellite position was closer to home) at the head office of KPMG. At my expense the interviewer met me at reception 20 minutes late with no apology and limp hand shake. I wasn’t expected at reception either. The interviewer then wouldn’t provide any information on the position and then had the cheek to ask me if I had any questions. She even left the interview twice as I was talking to speak to a colleague. She couldn’t be bothered to see me back to reception!

    Although this is about an interview it shows the lack of professional manors and time management. If you don’t want to interview then don’t waste other peoples time and money.

    Rant 2).
    In my profession I deal with a lot of off shore work (technical people working abroad). The first 2 meetings result in late attendance (80%), delegation to people you don’t work on the project who are clueless with no input or just don’t turn up!!

    During the 2 meetings & out side of the meeting I make it very clear what is expected. Consequently meetings going forward = all either inform me if they will be late, can’t make it with a delegated person who will take responsibility. I make it very clear to everyone regardless if “on or off shore” resources. YOU will be on time as you disturb everyone turning up late and can be replaced. Why do we think we are all expendable & self important to think we can turn up when we like. I may sound harsh but unless you start as you mean to go on I.e professional: my project becomes out of control to deliver tasks & eventually political and over complex with too many excuses why things aren’t completed on time. As an interim Project Manager I know too well that IT resources, including me are expendable!!

  7. Jez C Self August 22, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    Thank you so much for your superb writing. I was beginning to think it was me that was at fault as my ‘late’ friends have been telling me. “You have a hang up about being late” They have been telling me, and I was beginning to believe them.
    I have been late twice in my life and that was due to public transport problems; I had left with plenty of time, as usual but there was a train derailment. I felt guilty about my tardiness and felt I had to explain so much as to what had happened.

    I am so tempted to email the link to your page but, I know my chums will think I am acting strangely. For the first time in my life(52 years) I said “no” last night.

    It was arranged, to suit one of the invitees that we would meet for dinner at 5pm. I was paying for one of the guests as he was on hard times. On my way to the dinner date at 4:20pm for a twenty minute journey, I got a text message saying that “We will see you at 6:45pm, no apologies, nowt. Along with the guest that was on hard times telling me earlier that he wasn’t coming as he had an emergency dental appointment and felt bad about me paying for his meal, I had, finally had enough and sent a text saying that I thought that they were rude, had no respect for me and I was sick of being abused.

    The person that had insisted that we meet at 5pm has been late for the thirty eight years I have known her.

    I went for a walk and had a dinner at home on my own. I was pleased that i had finally told them that i had had enough.

    I felt so much better for doing so but was wondering if, perhaps it was ME and not them that had the problem.

    After reading your fine words, at least three times this morning, I feel so much better.

    Thank you.

    Jez C Self

    • Greg Savage August 22, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

      Good for you Jez…feels good doesn’t it?

  8. Cameron Barnes September 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Please include doctor appointments they always make you wait for at least 30 mins
    I’m always unfashionabley early for appointments and expect the same from others any excuse is only an excuse at 65 years of age I arrive on time and want the same courtesy

    • Anne Campbell Slater January 18, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      I always give my doctor (rarely late) a break because of the 3 times he was late for other people because I was bleeding out and he was keeping me alive….

  9. Nick Dobbs January 6, 2013 at 5:56 am #

    Greg – The more I read your posts the more I identify with your outlook on life. Must be the Africa connection we share? I completely agree with your sentiments. For those that are late for a genuinely good reason – courtesy demands understanding. My particular favourite are those managers who habitually arrive late to their own meeting as if to accentuate their own self-importance by keeping people hanging around.

  10. Tom May 25, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more. Selfish is the best word for it. You should try living in Italy where it is not only acceptable but the norm. I want to headbutt every wall I walk past. It seems particularly prevalent in business. They will happily make you wait 30-40 minutes, yet if you are to rock up 40 minutes late you miss your appointment. I applaud you for walking out on your dentist. We need to declare it unacceptable before it’s too late.

  11. Guy Swain June 18, 2013 at 1:17 am #


    I agree wholeheartedly. I feel that this has been gradually worsening over the last decade or so. I am both a recruiter and an ex military man, and I don’t do late. It just isn’t in me. I’m happy to call you and reschedule, if I absolutely must, but only if there is sufficient notice that it is unlikely to inconvenience you. It’s not that I think my time is more important. Usually both parties have agreed a suitable time to meet, and both parties have a busy schedule. Should I allow this meeting to overrun, I am very likely to be late for everything else that day. Not acceptable, so don’t be offended if I leave before we are finished. I have somewhere else to be, and it’s a good bet that you do too.

  12. Grant June 18, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    Excellent read Greg! Time is precious, and yet people have so little respect for it.
    I recently travelled out west for an interview for a senior role with a well-known organisation. An hour travel each way, plus the exensive time I put in to preparing for the interview. 20 minutes in to the interview the MD was winding it up, and wouldn’t answer any of my questions. I was furious and will NEVER use this organisation’s services again. Many of my friends have heard this story and will boycott them also.
    A bad attitude and lack of courtesy affects more than just the individual, it’s also about their personal and organisation brand!

  13. Tim June 18, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    This article is so accurate and timely too! My Father always taught me if you are going to be late for an appointment please, and it doesn’t matter who it is you’re meeting, ring them and apologise and let them know.
    In this day and age where it takes so long to drive somewhere we all need to make that extra time for traffic snarls so there is no excuse if you want to manage your time properly and look after your clients – and every person you meet with IS your client! Just as every one of us is our own Managing Director and Brand Manager!!
    Personally I usually give myself 20-minutes extra to get to appointments as that extra time if you’re lucky to get it means you can catch up with emails (not in the car whilst driving!) but in a proper environment where you can do it calmly and not illegally.
    Great article and good reading.

    • Anthony June 19, 2013 at 2:53 am #

      Greg, maybe you should manage the meetings more effectively. If they are not there at the starting time you simply start anyway. Soon enough the later arrivals ensure they attend on time to avoid embarrassment,

  14. cameron lang June 18, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    Great piece Greg.
    People who are late are the ones who never return calls ,who cancel at the last minute and more critically don’t do what they commit to .
    As one of the grey hair brigade I ask is this problem related to an overall drop in standards such as dress and the increasing dependency on social media .
    Lets Talk about it !!

  15. Kevin Hunt June 21, 2013 at 2:27 am #

    Spot on Greg – and the simple answer is it isn’t OK!

    As someone else wrote above, if you are not early you are late! It is plain rude and inconsiderate to be late to meet or greet anyone with whom you have an appointment.

    Courtesy good manners begin at home.

    Look after others as you would wish to be treated yourself ( ah, that may explain some of the problem…………)

  16. Phil June 21, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    I find it really quite easy to keep to my time commitments. I just don’t understand why others struggle to understand the concept.

    On a related note, I have an issue with a highly disorganised line manager who thinks it’s OK to allow her pointless morning meetings to drift into my work time, with clients lined up to be seen solidly from 9 til 5. When it’s pointed out to her that they are being kept waiting her usual response is “let them wait, they have nothing else to do.” Now, I do work in an industry where the term ‘client’ is to be taken with a pinch of salt and in actual fact they have no choice but to attend. However, a time is a time in my book and I am quite firm in telling her that this is not the way I operate. It doesn’t go down too well but I refuse to compromise my principles on such matters.

  17. Michel SARFATI October 26, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    I’m often considered (family, friends, …) as too much attached to being on time … A kind of “sickness”.
    I’m so glad to read that I share with the great Greg Savage, this minimum respect for other’s time, as I wish others to respect my time.

    Restaurant, parties, doctor, business meetings, candidates : take a f…… margin and be on time !

  18. Lynn October 28, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    I love this! I have told my kids that texting and cell phones have only increased the incidences of lateness because now people can text that they are late, why, how soon they might arrive, so it is thought to be not such a big deal. For us who are older, being on time was very important because, short of finding a phone somewhere, people on the waiting end were left to wonder what happened. So being on time used to be very important. Still is, to me.

  19. Sarah October 29, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    ‘Punctuality is the virtue of the bored.’ – Evelyn Waugh

  20. E Tsang October 30, 2013 at 2:30 am #

    In concept I agree with you, especially given your cultural context–but there are varying cultures around the world, and different cultures look at time in varying ways. Australia/S. Africa (whites)/USA/Canada/UK look at time in a somewhat flexible way (as you point out). The Germans and Swiss as a rule do not believe in any flexibility and behave in business as though being 15 min. early is on time, any later and you’re late (likely similar to Japan). And Italians, Spanish, some Asian/Oriental cultures (Japan, probably Korea excepted) look at time in a very different way–very relaxed. I can’t answer as to why it seems to be changing in the English-speaking world (maybe some influence from the rest of the world? Laziness, perhaps? Busier lives? All the above?). What’s perfectly acceptable in one country/culture may not be acceptable in another, and that’s fine. There’s no data to suggest that one way is actually more efficient/inherently better than another, and in all cultures there’s flexibility in the sense that when things MUST be on time (think a factory with set timing), things are done on time. When in Rome…

  21. Megan October 30, 2013 at 3:21 am #

    I’m chronically 15 minutes early for everything – I hate being late and it gives me way too much anxiety if I’m cutting it too close. So, if the person that I’m meeting is 15 minutes late, I’ve been waiting around for 30 minutes. By that time, I’m already over the meeting and kind of pissed off that I’ve been sitting around waiting for them for 15 minutes, and it just never ends up being as pleasant of an interaction as it should be. There are certain friends of mine that are always late – they just had to finish up one last thing before leaving the office, had to run an errand on the way, lost track of time – whatever it is, there’s always an excuse. I’ve considered showing up late myself for plans with these friends – but just know I would feel terrible if they actually got there on time and I kept them waiting. Writing it out makes me feel somewhat lame – they obviously don’t care about my time, so why should I care so much about theirs?

  22. MickG October 30, 2013 at 3:51 am #

    Why do people get so bent out of shape if someone shows up late? It’s not inconsiderate, it’s called life. Does someone’s party suddenly stop or fall apart if one happens to turn up a hour later? No, it carries on. More to the point, when has being on time for ANYTHING ever been cool save for job interviews, weddings,funerals & family things like school graduation? There’s a reason for the term “fashionably late” Folks who are so obsessed with being prompt need to get over themselves & not take it so seriously.

    Unless it’s dire, I don’t go out of my way to be on time because most things in the world don’t warrant such promptness. And anyone who is just has a case of OCD and a need for being a control freak.

  23. Jagpal October 30, 2013 at 8:25 am #

    I completely agree with you Greg, lateness has become an epidemic in all aspects of our lives. When an agreement to meet for a personal or profession your expected to be there. I am tried of people telling me to relax and go with the flow, there is a time and place for everything and my time is as just as valuable as yours. Don’t be surprised when I don’t make further plans with the those who keep me waiting. I always believed it was common courtesy and mutual respect for each other to be on time and ready to discuss the matter on hand.

    If I am on time and ready to present please do me the same courtesy and not waste my time. I do admit that I once was a late comer and though that being late was a social norm but then I grew up. I like having business meetings and personal relations with grown ups that know how to act accordingly.

  24. TIFF October 30, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    I agree with you about getting frustrated with people showing up late for lunch or dinner. However, I absolutely disagree with you that being on time is a black and white situation. For example, your dentist might have been late because he/she might have had to perform an emergency procedure on someone. Sometimes emergencies come up and it skews the schedule. It depends if the reason is a valid one, it’s not always so black and white.

  25. Eli October 30, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    I must say I agree with you on almost all accounts, as the amount of serial late-arrivers I know has grown exponentially in the past years. But I must disagree with your point about the dentist. The dentist is not choosing to be late to your appointment for selfish reasons. Medicine is a long and difficult career choice and it’s thankless, although misunderstood, comments like these that are keeping it that way.

    Oftentimes patient lateness and acute visits are the cause of longer waits. I can also assure you that the doctor’s entire day consists of patient interaction with little downtime to themselves. Although you may see it as an excuse, some patients require extra time on certain visits to address their issues, something I’m sure you would expect in a troubling time. Enjoy Obamacare (even though I support it), waits won’t be getting shorter. PS… I am a medical professional so I’ll admit to bias, if you couldn’t already tell. Just trying to shed some light on our side of complaints I hear oh too frequently.

  26. ThatSeriousGirl October 30, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    I got linked to this off a friend’s Facebook post. I heartily agree with you, I used to be involved with a lot of orchestras/bands when I was growing up and we were always told, “get here half an hour early, so we can tune/practice/warm up. Being early is on time, being on time is late, being late gets you kicked out.”

    Even now I follow this advice and though I don’t drive and frequently schedule get togethers/meals with friends an hour away, I still find myself arriving 10-30 minutes ahead of time even though they live much closer. If anything because I don’t drive, I allocate extra time to getting there ahead of schedule.

  27. BeeBop October 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    Sorry for being tardy leaving my comments…
    It’s funny to me that the author equates being on time with “old-fashioned” values.
    I would think that being somewhere at a set time was largely in the perspective of the holder of the (most likely inaccurate) time piece in our recent history.
    I imagine the rooster wasn’t always the most accurate measure of what time to wake up.
    No. The obsession of some regarding time is a recently “New-fashioned” value.

  28. Tim October 31, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Hi Greg,
    How about less judgement, and more positive, affirmative action…?

    Live up to your leadership potential. Whining and complaining about people’s behaviour is not going to bring about change.

    • Greg Savage October 31, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

      I am a confirmed whiner Tim, no leadership potential to realise unfortunately..just a whining, weak,complaining, hanger-on, who never actually created or DID anything in his entire life. Never even had an original idea, let alone inspired anyone to a better work life. You got me!

      • Traci Carr October 31, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

        Greg, as a honors psychology graduate, you are probably aware that there are millions of people in the world who have ADHD, of which a major symptom is chronic lateness. So when you refer to “…people who are routinely late…” this is likely this very group. In America, this is a protected group under The Americans With Disabilities Act. We make accommodations for these folks including flexible work schedules, and telephonic conference calls, verses in person meetings. It would serve you well to have some empathy for these folks.

        As an honors psychology graduate, you are probably also familiar with the Axis 2 disorder of narcissism, of which you appear to have tendencies. The world doesn’t revolve around you, and mirrors are not happier for having seen your image. I seriously doubt that your dentist was sitting in the back sipping her Starbucks latte, while you were waiting in the lobby. Perhaps she was resetting the tooth of a child who had just fallen down the steps at school? Or maybe her new receptionist overbooked her schedule?

        I read another of your blogs about hiring “drinkers.” Given the parameters that you outlined there, I wouldn’t hire you because in the post at hand, you come across as a “dick head” and you obviously lack “empathy” for others.

        My suggestion, (not that you care in your self centered world) is to seek therapy, and maybe then, your friends will actually want to show up on time to have dinner with you.

        I am a Disabilities Advocate and former Human Resource Generalist who enjoys reading Marcus Buckingham.

  29. Kelly October 31, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

    I am a hygienist who constantly has patients arrive late for appointments with no apology. But rather than turn the patient away for being late and rescheduling them, and consequently putting me behind schedule and making all the other patients who did show up on time wait, we have to see them. Why is it okay for physicians to make their patients wait, but not dentists. I’m sure you’ve waited a long time to see your doctor, but when it comes to the dentist, there isn’t any give?

    • Greg Savage October 31, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

      That is what you took from the blog Kelly? That its beating up on Dentists? Seriously? That was just an example! Dentist, Doctor, Recruiter, Banker…makes no difference. The message is respect the time of other people by aiming to stick to agreed meetings times. Sure, we all be late sometimes, me included. But don’t abuse that by purposely keeping the other person waiting so YOU can make more money, or focus on what you want to do at that moment. That’s it. Not about Dentists

      • Janis November 1, 2013 at 3:04 am #

        My husband works for a Jewish Community Center. The Torah says that abusing another’s time is a serious sin because you can’t repair it or make good on it – give it back. Time is too precious. Because of that the members of the Council always bring a book or something to read if they are early to a meeting so that it doesn’t cause the late-comers to “sin.” Time is precious and I totally agree with you.

  30. DUSTIN November 1, 2013 at 2:00 am #

    Who gives a flying F. Start showing up a few minutes late yourself and everyone is happy. Your not going to change the world. Move on.

    • Tim November 1, 2013 at 9:01 am #

      Nicely put, Dustin. Or better yet, Greg, don’t show up at all – make everyone much happier…!

  31. Elizabeth December 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    I found this article fascinating, and I can’t decide if I agree with it or not. I suffer from severe ADHD, and I am one of the chronic latecomers which you attack quite harshly. It’s a well-known fact among friends, family, and professors that I arrive everywhere 5 minutes late on a good day. What you fail to recognize in this article is that not all chronic latecomers are ambivalent about their tardiness. I wish I could be as punctual as you are – it would make my life and my relationships so much easier. I genuinely try to arrive places on time, but due to my ADHD I cannot do it – I can’t explain why, because if I understood it I would fix it. I have tried every method I could think of to get myself to places on time, and actually back in high school I used to use a razor blade to give myself one cut for every minute I was late for something. It still didn’t work, and left me a bit of a mess. I am constantly consumed by guilt for all the people I let down and keep waiting every day of my life. Trust me, lateness is not a choice for me. However, I admire you for your punctuality, and I think that punctuality is a very good character trait and a mark of a responsible and caring person.

  32. Neale January 4, 2014 at 12:36 am #

    As something of a counter thought to this post, I wrote this –

    read it. Don’t. It’s ok.

  33. M M January 18, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    Wow, what condescending BS! I make an effort to be on time, and usually am, but I don’t sweat it too much if I’m late for something casual. Obviously, I am early for interviews, business meetings, sit-down dinners etc. but what kind of twat shows up for an evening party right at the planned time?

    It’s only with the advent of the industrial age, where time equals money, that punctuality has become so important. I don’t want to be treated like a commodity, and don’t want to treat other people that way also. Doing so reinforces the capitalistic dehumanization of all people who are just viewed through their ability to be productive. I am quite proud of my work and respectful of others, but I don’t think that it has anything to do with my punctuality.

    I bet you like having a clean desk too. Einstein said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

    • Greg Savage January 18, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      Dear “MM”, What kind of twat claims an article is condescending BS and then goes on to agree with almost all of it? “Obviously, I am early for interviews, business meetings, sit-down dinners” 90% of the article was about exactly these sorts of events that people ARE late for.. so do you agree …or not… twat?

  34. Sundee Himburg June 22, 2014 at 6:41 am #

    Greg, and really all the punctual people out there, I willingly apologize for the tardy people.

    I know for myself, this is a huge issue. My friends and family call it “Sundee standard time” and I am the person that gets told different start times to events.

    I don’t know about the rest of my tardy brethren, but for me, it is not on purpose. There have been very significant things in my life that no matter how much I tried, I was still late for. I’ve left the house a half hour early for something and still managed to be 15 minutes late.

    I really don’t know what happens. The consequences are always to my detriment. I know how it is perceived professionally and personally – and all of that matters to me- and yet here we are.

    I will say that I often fall into the trap of being in the middle of one thing and wanting to see it through to the finish before moving on or to be unable to pass a situation that requires help or an answer. It is not that anyone one task or person is more important- more the fact that one is more immediate both in time and proximity.

    So don’t just be to harsh to judge us late comers as poor friends, colleagues or employees. Often we are the ones who will stay late and stick through and finish something because you or it is important- long after somebody who had to be somewhere has left.


  35. Debbie November 13, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

    I agree. People that are late are being very rude and selfish!

    • jacob Eagleshield February 20, 2015 at 11:20 am #

      There are always people so full of themselves that they think the world should stop and wait for them to catch up. What egos they must have!

  36. Rob June 9, 2015 at 8:36 am #

    I have to say you are off-base with your comments about your dentist. I’m a doctor, and I do everything in my power to stay on schedule. If you’re my first patient of the day or my first patient after lunch you’ll always be taken back on time. Every day though, every day, I have about 10-15% of my patients show up 10 – 15 minutes late for an exam. I am now off schedule. I take a lunch about 20% of the time, and instead use that time to get back on schedule. Here I am, not taking lunch to try and accommodate patients as do most of my colleagues, and you’re irritated with me that you have to wait. It’s your fellow public that puts us off schedule. With declining reimbursements from insurance plans, and increasing costs, I cannot afford to schedule fewer patients. I agree with most if not all of your article, but please understand that most medical professionals I know do everything in their power to be on schedule.

  37. Brian July 10, 2015 at 12:35 am #

    On time is 10 minutes early. Arriving at the designated time is late.

  38. Stuart March 18, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

    “apparently totally unconcerned that others have been there since five to nine, prepared and ready to start.”

    You don’t even know if these people will be coming so what’s the problem to start the meeting without them?

    I think it is more important to give respect to the people who do arrive on time.

  39. James April 11, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

    I am one of those chronically late people you’re happy to criticize.
    That’s right Greg, I’m late to almost everything, friends, family, work. The lot.

    But before you wave your condescending, sanctimonious, self-righteous finger and lecture me at the evils of tardiness, scratch the surface and take a look why.

    Most of the problem (for me at least) revolves around work – pure and simple.

    Let’s start with my bosses throughout my career. They have been for the most part utterly incompetent, narcissistic sociopaths. With their cavalier attitude that I can take on unlimited extra work, for no extra pay, and that my work and personal time is theirs for the taking (and some extra for good measure), an obscene portion of my work and personal time is spent KEPING THEM organized and punctual, at the expense of MY OWN punctuality.
    My running 10 minutes late, doing all the extra work I’m laden with, is the cost I am forced to pay to keep them from being hours late.

    Next comes the cohort of my co-workers, who’s lack of competency, enthusiasm and plain common-sense forces me to compensate with my own skills and time to keep the organization functioning smoothly. My workload has DOUBLED because projects are allocated to me – management know the job will get done, and done well – I am punished for being a competent worker who won’t do a second-rate job, and when you have one hour to do a two hour job, yes it affects my punctuality.

    The irony is that the incompetents (who are too stupid to realize how completely incompetent they are) out there can leave ON TIME to collect their precious little snowflakes from school or whatever they do enjoying their family life, while myself, a single middle-aged male, gets the dubious honor of staying behind to finish the work because they just can’t be bothered, or fix up their mistakes due to their blatant inadequacies.
    I can’t count how many times I’ve been told “You’re really good at this job – the boss says you can do this…” and “Oh, you can stay back and finish this job… you’re so lucky don’t have a family to rush home to…”
    Yeah, great – I’m late yet again!

    And thank you Greg; it was probably a flash recruiter like yourself that got the bozos hired which I’m force to work with.

    I get utterly depressed watching professional standards decline and knowing that in order to keep my job, I have to support a workforce that is becoming more useless – at my own expense.

    And before you start on how I should be saying no to the extra workload, so I can be super punctual; good luck mate when you’re on recurrent annual contracts, and trying to pay a mortgage. Good luck when your boss cant see beyond his own nose and see how useless some of his workers are.

    Do I like being late? No.

    But I have to – to support the lowest common denominator in the workforce.

    The next time you want to lay blame, take look closer at why some people with a solid work-ethic can’t be punctual, and you might find it’s not a flaw in their character at all – it’s everyone else’s.

    • Greg Savage April 11, 2016 at 5:58 pm #

      James, seriously, you write a rant that basically says.. you are late because… you are busy? You think you the only person on the globe with that challenge? And all your problems are because of your ” utterly incompetent, narcissistic sociopaths“. And then of course its the ” cohort of my co-workers, who’s lack of competency, enthusiasm and plain common-sense forces me to compensate with my own skills and time to keep the organization functioning smoothly” NEVER your fault is it James. Never. Narcissistic much? You are hilarious James, made my day

      • James April 12, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

        Didn’t say it was never my fault Greg; I said “Most of the problem (for me at least) revolves around work – pure and simple”.
        I know I’m not the only person busy human on the globe. I’m just fed up of being late due to selfish people making my life ridiculously busy and I have no doubt many of your readers will feel the same – just ask them!

        And I’m definitely not a narcissist (you completely misdiagnosed that one mate).


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