Social Question

Blackberry's avatar

Do you think it's ok to be a few minutes late, or should people always be exactly on time or early?

Asked by Blackberry (30929points) April 25th, 2012

Does it make a difference if they’re constantly just a few minutes late? What if they’re never late, but one day they’re an hour late?

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72 Answers

chyna's avatar

For work I think people should be a little early. That way they can get their coffee, get their computer booted up, etc. before the work day starts.
A few minutes late each day adds up. Before you know it, it adds up to an hour a week. That is stealing from the employee.
If I was an hour late one day, I would work my lunch or at the end of the day to make it up.

quiddidyquestions's avatar

It depends on the occasion.

A date? Be on time. Early is awful if you’re picking him/her up, and late is just plain bad.
An intimate dinner party? Exactly on time.
A big party? A little late is ok.

laurenkem's avatar

I like to be early, especially for work. As @chyna said, it gives you time to set up for your day, have your drink (maybe even your breakfast) and just be prepared. I am usually at least early or on time for social engagements.

My thought is, if you’re late, you’re indicating that my time isn’t as important as yours. Arrogance at its finest.

tom_g's avatar

Prior to having kids I had never been late to anything in my life. In fact, even with 3 kids, we’re probably only late about 10% of the time. But the kids thing gave me a little perspective – but only concerning people with kids.

If you’re discussing work, then @chyna is right. It’s just wrong.

The thing about perpetually-late people that I never understand is the following…

Don’t you have a system? Here’s an example:

I have to be at work by 7:00am.
If there is no traffic and I hit every green light, I can make it in 26 minutes. If there is a little bit of traffic, it will take me 30 minutes.
So, the question is…what time should I leave. Yep, you guessed it: 6:15am.

Some people (my wife…ahem) might do some quick math and come up with the following complaint…
7:00am minus 30 minute (max) commute = 6:30am. See, that’s what I don’t get. Here’s why…
– When does that always work out? What if there is an accident and there is a detour?
– What if you are about to leave the house and realize that you forgot something?
– What if you realize you need gas on the way?
– What if anything happens?

See, some people (my wife…ahem) might see the above list and decide that she’d rather risk these things happening because the thought of being early makes her as anxious as the thought of me being late. When she’s early, she feels some kind of deep existential worry or something. When I’m early, I see it as one thing and one thing only: a gift. If I get to work 15 minutes early, I just “won” 15 minutes. I can go for a walk, I can meditate at the office, I can read a book I’m working on, etc.

So, to answer your question: being early wins every time.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Everyone must be on time! NO EXCEPTIONS.

laurenkem's avatar

@Michael_Huntington Thank you! I’ve been trying to impart that to people for years.

And to @tom_g , do you really think that you merit the rest of the world revolving around your “schedule”? I really don’t care whether or not you have kids. If you say you’re going to be somewhere or do something at a certain time, than do it!

tom_g's avatar

@laurenkem: “And to @tom_g , do you really think that you merit the rest of the world revolving around your “schedule”?”

Rephrase or elaborate and I might respond.

Edit: you just did elaborate. Now I’ll respond…below…

Response moderated
JLeslie's avatar

My rule is less than 20 minutes late is not late unless it is something that must start on time like a reservation or show.

With each person I am different. I have two friends who are always late, and so I tend to run a little late when meeting up with them.

My husband likes to be on time, in fact I have to hold him back to be fashionably late for parties. I try to be on time for him, because it bothers him so to have to wait, makes him anxious.

My natural inclination is to be a little late. If I know I must be on time, I usually am a little early, because I hate the pressure.

AstroChuck's avatar

You should never be late for work unless there’s a real emergency. Being a little late for a party is cool. But in most situations I think it’s better to be an hour early than five minutes late. This last rule doesn’t apply in Hawaii.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I once got yelled at for being late to a party. It turns out that I wasn’t even invited.

laurenkem's avatar

Being late is rude, egotistical and sends a message to the recipient of your tardiness that they are less important than you and your life. Plain and simple.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Response moderated (Personal Attack)
bewailknot's avatar

Late for work is a definite NO. Late for other events also NO. Late for the kind of wild party in high school or college – probably a good idea – more fun when your fellow party goers are a little wasted.
As for kids making you late – it will happen sometimes, but if you are using the kids as the excuse and you are always late you better start getting ready a little earlier.

JLeslie's avatar

@tom_g Interesting. I hate being early more than 5 minutes. I feel like I gave away my time.

laurenkem's avatar

I stand by my response. If you say you’re going to be somewhere or do something at a certain time, don’t pull the “I’ve got a kid” card – be there!

JLeslie's avatar

@laurenkem Do you by any chance have an anger problem? Do you constantly feel dissappointed by people? I’m sure you don’t want to be psychoanalyzed, but being so strict in how people should behave, and being that way for yourself, can cause a lot of anger and anxiety. Hopefully the people around you are perfect.

filmfann's avatar

I try not to be late, and I try not to rag on people who are.

laurenkem's avatar

@JLeslie No, I certainly don’t have anger issues, nor am I constantly disappointed by the people around me. What I am disappointed is the people who decide that cursing at me and calling me names are the appropriate way to resolve an issue.

I am completely non-judgmental when it comes to how people act; however, it was pointed out to me years ago that people who are continuously late think their time is more important than yours, and that’s all I have to say about that.

Berserker's avatar

Gandalf does whatever the fuck he damn well pleases.

I’d say for work, you should probably be there on time. You’re getting paid to be there, so you should respect their rules. I always come in early. Unless there’s an emergency or something, it’s pretty easy for me to keep my work routine going.
As for other stuff like parties and things…being a few minutes late isn’t going to kill anyone. I wouldn’t go party with someone so uptight that this would bother them, anyways.

roundsquare's avatar

I don’t like it when someone is constantly late. But a few minutes is fine. Why? The way I see it, if you plan to be on time to something, there is a probability distribution on how late you will be. If you leave early enough such that there is a 99% chance you’ll be on time then there is also a 50% chance (or more) you will be significantly early and have to wait around. I don’t like forcing people to wait around either, so I’d rather they leave less buffer and risk being a bit late.

That being said, when someone is late and says “sorry, I got caught up in movie X” or something I get very annoyed. Especially when they are delaying my food.

JLeslie's avatar

@laurenkem I do think it can be disrespectful to other people’s time to be late when they are expecting you or meeting you. But, Some people are late because of cultural reasons, or bad at planning, or just can’t get their act together, or maybe they are late once in a while because something went wrong. I just think being flexible is much easier. I just sort of match whoever I am with.

As far as parties go, I am pissed when people show up for my party right on time, please give me ten minutes to make sure my shirt is on and my hair is sprayed.

JLeslie's avatar

I prefer making a plan, and then checking with the other person when I am almost ready to leave to see if they are on time.

quiddidyquestions's avatar

@JLeslie I call that being “politely late.” Even if I say to come over for dinner at 6:00, I would love to see my guests around 6:05–6:10. Six thirty is rude.

laurenkem's avatar

Okay, so it’s clear that this is a pet peeve of mine, and I won’t say anything further on the subject other than this:

If you say you’re going to be somewhere at a certain time, be there!

Stated without throwing out cuss words and personal insults.

bewailknot's avatar

Make sure if you are going to see the stage version of The Lion King that you are a few minutes early – the lock the doors when the curtain first goes up and you will miss the first song.

john65pennington's avatar

I have always been on time or maybe a little early.

Wish I could say the same for my wife and daughter.

digitalimpression's avatar

Depends on where you work.

I tend to desire a poly-chronic environment.. but alas… America is all about working long, tedious hours.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

@Symbeline If your comment was a pie, it would be a chicken pot pie. Not that disgusting frozen shit.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When I was a teen my friends would tell me to meet them at their house 30 minutes before I actually had to be there because they knew I would always be exactly 30 minutes late.
As an adult, I’m where I’m supposed to be, on the nose. It lets people know they can count on you.

Paradox25's avatar

It depends on the situation to be honest. I have a horrible tendency to be late, alot, so I can’t say much here.

Berserker's avatar

@Michael_Huntington Hmm, pot. I mean…chicken. ’‘blows out ship shaped smoke from mouth’’

Sunny2's avatar

I usually get places early. If I’m late, I’m on time. However, since I totaled my car (because it was so old, not because it was a huge crash), I refuse to hurry. If I’m a bit late? too bad. I rarely am late. My friends know that if I’m not there when I said I would be, something went wrong. I can’t dictate to other people, but I think things go more smoothly if everyone is punctual. Of course there are certain times when that isn’t possible, but if you’re late 75% of the time, you’re doing something wrong.

nonexpert's avatar

You should be as early as you can, but not too early that you look desperate. You should do it out of courtesy of course.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Being habitually late for work is an insult to co-workers. At least I used to think that way until I had to write up an employee for being late several days in a row. His excuse? The car broke down and he was forced to take the bus, which didn’t get him there until about 15 minutes after his shift began. His team and I worked through the problem with a temporary fix. It’s just a matter of communication.

Being late to work and any other example that requires a person to be on time can cause a disruption to others. @bewailknot‘s example is a good one. Even if the theater doors were not locked, having people scramble for their seat once the play starts is an interruption to many people.

The only scenario that really irritates me is when someone says that they will attend an event (or show up for work) and then doesn’t appear. I would hope that they have enough courtesy to call and explain their status. Otherwise, I worry about their well-being.

gailcalled's avatar

One of the few jokes I remember;

People who are early are anxious.
People who are on time are compulsive.
People who are late are hostile.

woodcutter's avatar

It’s really hard to look like as asshole if you run a few ahead of time. Not so much using the other method.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t have a set start time for work but I am always a little early for meetings and the like. I feel anxious if I am late. It feels rude.

If I am meeting friends and family, I am a bit more relaxed. I used to always be on time but am less fixated these days. My middle daughter is the exception here. I try to be on time for her because like @JLeslie‘s husband she gets anxious or even uptight if people are late.

If I am attending an event, even a party I will either be on time so I don’t miss the start and disturb others or for a party, a little late is good.

JLeslie's avatar

My experience is people who must be on time, tend to be a little early to be on time. Those who are not so strict, who don’t worry if they are 5 minutes late, well, by the time they arrive the “on time” person has easily been waiting over ten minutes already. 10 minutes can seem like a long time when you feel it is a personal afront when someone is late, or if you are very regimented in your expectations of others. Maybe I am wrong, maybe the person waiting only starts counting from the time people were supposed to arrive?

I know with my husband when we plan to leave for something, he gets ready and then waits for me. He is ready earlier than we agreed. He literally will get in the car and wait for me. I hate when he does that. Puts pressure on me, even though he says he isn’t trying to. I forget shit all the time rushing for him. I am not late all the time, but if every so often I run 5 minutes late, I don’t think it should be a big deal, as long as we are going somewhere that it doesn’t really matter if we leave 5 minutes later than we planned. We are at home, he isn’t waiting out in the cold somewhere. And, I am the one who gets everything we need before we leave. Coupons, directions, food, whatever it is.

Bellatrix's avatar

Funnily enough @JLeslie I don’t mind so much if other people are a bit late when meeting me. As long as I am not standing in the street waiting or in the rain and I don’t have a tight schedule in terms of a meeting following on immediately, I am fine with having five minutes to just relax. I try not to be late, but I don’t get anal if other people are a few minutes late. If they keep me waiting for a long time I would get peeved though.

Haleth's avatar

Do we seriously have such packed schedules that nobody can wait a few minutes? If I’m meeting a friend for coffee, I don’t mind ordering and waiting a bit until she shows up. Or if I throw a dinner party, it’s completely reasonable to spend the first few minutes chatting over drinks until everyone shows up. For everyone to be on time at work… ok, I get that, because we’re all out to make a living and time really is money. But during free time, we should be able to drop the hectic schedule. It seems like nobody has any patience anymore.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Except for doctors. They will always have patience.

woodcutter's avatar

It doesn’t seem to be important to be early for the doc these days. You are still gonna wait. The earlier you are, the longer that wait might be.

lillycoyote's avatar

I am one of those horrible people who is almost always late. If I ever got my shit together I might be able to manage a little early. I am almost always late, I could possibly, if I tried, get somewhere early, but I do don’t understand “promptness,” how anyone manages to get somewhere right on time and I know people who can do it. How do people manage to time things to the minute like that? Do they actually just get there early and then drive or walk around the block until they are, until that can manage “right on time?”

Bellatrix's avatar

If it is something really important, yes, I get there early and wait for a while. :-) As long as you get there @Lilly. You can be late for me any time. My oldest daughter is always late. Drives my other daughter insane. They are so different that way.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Bellatrix So good to know, my dear friend! I was going out to visit some friends in Oregon for Christmas a few years ago and missed my flight because I was running late. I got to Oregon a day late… so if I ever come to visit you in Australia, hopefully I will arrive Wednesday… but it might be Thursday. Who knows? :-)

cazzie's avatar

I think it depends on what it is, but chronic late people piss me off. My husband and his ex (the mother of my autistic step son) are like this. They couldn’t get their shit together if they had bags to catch it as it came out their arses.

ucme's avatar

Golden rule #1…don’t come too soon.

JLeslie's avatar

If someone is chronically late, then usually it is pretty easy to figure out what time they will show up.

@Bellatrix Yeah, it has more to do with personality I think than waiting 5 or 10 minutes for someone. People who are more controlling probably get pissed about late people more easily, but I am not saying that all on time people are controlling, in fact there are plenty of late people who are very controlling, and people like you who are on time or early, but no big deal if people run a few minutes late. Perfectionism probably contributes to some of the people who have to be on time. Plus, putting labels on a person like “late means they don’t respect nor love me,” creates bad feelings. Or, if someone associates tardiness with disorganized and lazy, then if the person hates being perceived that way they sure as hell are not going to be late amd have people think that of them. I am not picking on the on time people, late people probably tend to be a little more disorganized, but not always, sometimes it is just a cultural thing, and sometimes they really are not thinking about the inconvenience to others.

I used to be always on time. Then in my teens I dated a guy who was often late. We fought about it all the time, and then we made the rule 20 minutes or less isn’t late. If he showed up for me and I still needed ten minutes to get ready he never complained. If I was ready and he was 15 minutes late picking me, no problem. We never fought about tardiness again. Since then, I realized the fight and strictness was unnecessary. I wound up liking being able to give myself a break and not worry about being perfectly punctual.

I have never missed a plane, which @lillycoyote mentioned above. For things like that I give myself usually plenty of time, because I am one of those people who assumes something might easily go wrong, like bad trafficon the way, so I would build in a cushion to my time planning.

Someone above mentioned totalling their car, and so now they don’t rush. My husband used to drive unsafely to be on time. I have a big problem when people are so rigid or so worried about beng judged they endanger themselves and others. When I run a little late and then he starts putting the petal to the metal, I remind him, “we are not late.” Which many times just means we do not have to be on time to where we are going.

theplunketts's avatar

This depends on the person expecting you.

Personally, a few minutes late is perfectly normal.
If you are constantly a few minutes late, it’s still ok by me.

If it’s for your job, then your co-workers who think it is important to get to work on time will resent you.

If you are an hour late out of nowhere, then you better have a good excuse.

cazzie's avatar

I really do think keeping the event you are late for in context is important. Being 3 minutes late for a plane when you are half way around the world means that you will probably be delayed for more than 3 minutes for your arrival home. (yes, he has done this and has been a day, or a half day late as a result.) Also, missing busses falls under the same category here, but usually means, perhaps an hour late. NOT CALLING to say you are going to be late is much worse. If I am meeting a group of people for drinks after work, I don’t care if one shows up a half hour late. Big deal. I don’t want to keep my son’s teacher waiting, or the doctor etc. Some people deserve the respect of being on time, because being late creates a very bad domino effect. If I make dinner and people say they are going to come at a certain time, so I set things up, I expect them at my place in a 20–30minute window.

I know who is going to let me down regularly, so I try to avoid counting on them for anything.

lillycoyote's avatar

I know, I get it, there is no excuse for missing a plane. Yet, I did it, I managed it. I understand how it all works, yet I did it anyway. Not your problem; totally my problem.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote I wasn’t picking on you. I see you freely admit you are late and know it affects you and those around you. Anyone can miss a plane for one reason or another, but since your lateness is chronic, of course it is kind of like par for the course. I usually have nightmares the night before I fly. Either literally missing a flight, or not making it to class on time, or not being prepared for something, some sort of dream where I screw up something because I am not ready or forgot.

FutureMemory's avatar

Almost everyone has a cell phone these days, so someone that’s running late can easily phone or text the group to let them them know they’re going to be 15 or 20 minutes late. It’s not like ‘the old days’ when once someone left their house you had no way of contacting them. As long as the person lets me know they’re running late, it’s OK by me.

gailcalled's avatar

I have one step-son who is so chronically late (and so wonderful in every other aspect) that we simply fudge the ETA…usually by an hour on the early end. Everyone is happy.

Blackberry's avatar

Thanks for the input. I’m relaxed about others, but I have to be on time to everything. If I’m too early, I’ll sit in the car lol.

mowens's avatar

You guys are wierd. Every time I show up somewhere, everyone is ready and witing, and whatever the event is immedietly starts.


Nimis's avatar

I’m chronically late.

For the record, I don’t think my time is worth more than yours. I’m just really bad at time-management.

gailcalled's avatar

(Do you mean mundane? If you feel you must shout, spell it right.)


VV- mondaine, unless he is speaking French, which he doesn’t seem to be.

tom_g's avatar

@gailcalled – I assumed @mowens was referring to mondain, as in “characteristic of fashionable society; worldly”. But wait – that is really weird.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think people should be on time for appointments and work, but I think social occasions have a bit more leniency on them. For myself, I am almost always early for things and very rarely late. It’s just part of who I am. When I was in high school, our marching band director drilled a saying into our heads:
“To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late shows you just don’t care.”
That really stuck with me and I think it’s one of the main reasons I always try to arrive early. If others arrive late for events (aside from work/appointments) it doesn’t bother me too much and I don’t take it personally. I can’t stand it when people are late for work though, especially if it’s the person relieving me at the end of a 12 hour shift when I’m ready to go home.

lillycoyote's avatar

@JLeslie I know you weren’t picking on me. I know, anyone can miss a plane. But I know I have a chronic problem with lateness. It’s not something I am proud of, or think is O.K., I just have a problem with it… so… even if you were picking on me, I would have it coming. :-)

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote We all have our thing. :)

mowens's avatar

@tom_g @gailcalled Yes. Apparently I cant spell. My bad. :) I was late to spelling class the day they told everyone that one.

tranquilsea's avatar

I can count on one hand how often I’ve been late for anything. I can understand lateness due to some unforeseen circumstance but perpetual lateness? Those people piss me off. Their time is not more important than mine. And don’t use your kids as an excuse! I have 3 myself and throughout their infancy to teenage-hood I’ve still been on time.

lillycoyote's avatar

@tranquilsea You would really hate me then. I am chronically late. But I never use my kids as an excuse because I don’t have kids. I’m just a mess: a train wreck really, always late, among other things. :-)

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