On lateness

It is disturbing to see myself becoming tardier about punctuality. Over the last few years I have developed this unrealistic belief that more things can be squeezed into less time and that I can magically appear at another part of Singapore in a few minutes, in a parallel universe where no traffic exists and car park space is abundant.
Part of this tardiness is due to psychological reasons. Sometimes there is a fear of offending someone by walking out of an overrun meeting. So we leave late and start the next appointment late and the domino effect begins. I always marvelled at how American TV shows showing how schoolchildren packed up their books and left class as the schoolbell ran, even while their teacher was talking. They have less stigma about leaving on time.
At work, perhaps scarce rooms are a solution – when they’re booked at fixed time slots, the next group will be knocking on the door when time’s up, and the meeting will have to be concluded quickly. And perhaps rooms should only be booked for one hour slots or less, so that nobody should be late or longwinded or unprepared at a meeting.
The worst experience I myself have had as a customer, was with my new personal banker. I asked him to meet me at a restaurant near my office. I sent him a food review page from Hungrygowhere.com, which also contained a Google map of the place. He parked somewhere else, walked off in the wrong direction and lost his bearings. After a few phone calls he was still lost. When he finally found the restaurant, he was an hour late. He paid for lunch.
So, my two new mid-year resolutions are: To smile more, and to be on time. Dare I?


  1. kevinlim.myopenid.com

    Smiling never hurt anyone, unless you’re a smuck.
    As for being on time, I’m picky. If I care enough, I’d show up early. If I don’t care, I show up late. That’s a signal I give off to the person I’d be dealing with.
    My favorite line of all time came from my advertising teacher once when he said “You can never be on time! You’re either early or late!”
    Think about that! 😉

  2. Melvin

    enjoyed the post…
    I recently read about how mobile phones are changing our attitudes towards punctuality… because everyone can be reached at the last minute, we think it’s now excusable to be late because:
    1. If the one waiting is wondering where you are, he/she can call.
    2. It’s ok to be late because you can call to say sorry; and he/she can read/work on the phone while waiting anyway.

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