Middelagedmum.com: Better late than never

Last week after a 5.30am start and meetings all day, I was on my way home from work when I got a text, “sorry I’m going to be 10 mins late”. I had completely forgotten (due to the 5.30 am start) that I’d agreed to meet someone who I barely know, but had briefly worked with in the past, to talk about her career options. Luckily I was passing the place where we were supposed to meet, so hopped of the bus and went to meet her. Twenty minutes later I was still waiting – and waiting –  until she turned up half an hour late. I did my usual, ‘no its fine’ when she apologised. But actually no it wasn’t. Being late when someone has given up their time to talk to you is not ok. In fact being late at any time is not ok and the older I get, the more intolerant I am.

On the day of the women’s march a whole group of us had arranged to go together from various parts of London. We started out in Stoke Newington on the bus, picking various people up en route. Not one person was late and it went super smoothly, with everyone turning up when and where they said they would. Later when I thought about it, I realised that over the years I have eliminated people who are late, right out of my life.

Back in the day, before mobile phones, you made a plan to meet and had to turn up – as there was no way of letting the other person know if you were going to be late. Therefore bar an accident or a natural disaster, you could be pretty sure your friends would be in the right place at the right time. Yes of course people were still late – but they usually had a genuine excuse. Nowadays it seems as long as you text or email – often at the time you are actually supposed to be meeting – you can be up to half an hour late, or sometimes not even turn up at all – but its “ok” because you’ve been in touch to let them know.
NO actually NO, its not ok, because being late is like saying “my time is more important than yours and you have nothing better to do than wait for me”. Well hello – I have got better things to do – like spend time with friends who turn up on time!

The same goes for work, no matter if its a quick coffee with a colleague or a corporate board meeting – start and end on time. Anything else is inefficient and creates a ‘don’t care’ culture.

When managing teams of younger people when I was the mother of small children, some (not all – I hate being that older women who makes sweeping statements about all young people) of my team would turn up half an hour late in the morning, sighing about how tired they were and how bad their journey had been. Having got up – washed and dressed myself and two children – fed various animals – made packed lunches – made sure book bags were packed – nagged children to brush teeth, put on shoes etc etc – got children to school and got myself to work, I found it hard to be understanding. Oh yes you must be tired – having only had yourself to consider – and don’t worry about being late, as it must be so hard to get yourself washed and dressed and order a flat white!

Maybe I’m being harsh, but even when I was a young 20something about town and went out every (and I mean every) night and had been at out till 3am, I still managed to be at work on time.

Maybe it comes from your parents – mine have never been late for anything in their lives – and my kids are also really good at being on time – or perhaps it’s a control thing – but the I’ve decided to have zero tolerance for lateness in 2017. So if you want to meet up to discuss your career or anything else for that matter – be on time – cos if you’re late I won’t be there!


  • Heather says:

    As a teacher of students aged 16+ I find it infuriating when the response as to why they are late is usually “traffic”. The college has not changed its location. Plan your journey. Trying to embed the idea that future employers won’t appreciate this explanation is hard going with some who are disbelieving that they won’t be valued for just being themselves. I once knew someone who regarded being on time (or early) as an indication not having enough to do. Consequent waiting around for someone who was busier and so much more important than me was the catalyst to the end of that friendship!!

  • Rhiannon Fox says:

    Well said, couldn’t agree more.
    I don’t know where I get my obsession with time keeping but I would be hours early rather than disrespect someone by arriving late for a prearranged meeting.
    It is all about respect for one another.

  • Linda Pennell says:

    Hoorah! When I was at work, covering a large geographical area involving lots of travel to meetings I was rarely late except for traffic accidents etc. But whenever I was required to go to team meetings in London HQ invariably those based in the office kept us all waiting, just taking an extra phone call etc. Typically my colleagues and I had travelled from Glasgow, Brighton, Cardiff to get there on time. Grrr

  • Sarah says:

    So, so true. Punctuality is a state of mind not some arbitrary thing that only happens when the wind is blowing your way. I used to spend hours, literally, waiting for some people. Not anymore, my time is as precious as everyone else’s.

  • Amanda says:

    My dad – with his unshakeable military training – brought my sis and I up with the mantra ‘if you arrive on time, you’re late’ . Hard to shake that off. Ax

  • Sue Evans says:

    I HATE being late too ( must be a generational thing I think) and as a non-mobile owner don’t have that facility of being able to phone to say I am on my way but not there yet. So my watch and all my clocks are always set 10 minutes fast, making sure I am always ahead of myself !

  • Emma says:

    I agree with you 100%. I’ve let go of friendships because every time we met up they would be late. Time is a precious commodity, and not just for mum’s I night add, and if someone cannot respect that my time is just as important as theirs then I really don’t want that person in my life. I’ve had these ex-friends poke fun at me for being on time, as though it’s somehow strange to expect someone to turn up when they’ve said they’re going to. I think they call this gas-lighting. I’m the kind of person who turns up a few minutes early to make sure we have a good table, and whilst I don’t expect everyone I’m meeting up with to do this, as it’s totally my choice to arrive early, I do expect people to be on time. It’s the most basic of courtesies, surely.

  • Vivienne says:

    Totally agree! I’m always early for everything but am often kept waiting by ” friends”. What really annoys me now are letters/ e. mails and texts to remind me about appointments when I always keep them aaaargh!

  • Mary says:

    I had a younger colleague send me an email yesterday asking me to meet with her later in the day with a mention of some random topics of discussion and telling me she would be bringing along someone else. The problem was that last week she had scheduled a meeting with me (using our inhouse email meeting program) that was due to start just 5 minutes after she sent this email and some of the discussion items were already on the agenda for the scheduled meeting. I had prepared materials ready for the discussion. Clearly, she hadn’t even bothered to check her calendar. I wrote her back immediately, reminded her that she had set up the meeting–due to start in 5 minutes–and said she could show up to discuss the original topic (only) on time or cancel. I wasn’t giving her another slot in my day. She showed up–on time–but was clearly rattled that I wasn’t treating her time as more important than my own. I might add that this isn’t the first time she has done this, so I have no tolerance for this kind of behavior.

  • Jan says:

    Totally agree with your post and the comments added by readers. Like you I want to avoid saying ‘all young people’ are like this or that but I do think people are becoming increasingly selfish and self-centred. The selfie generation in more ways than one. Sadly I wonder whether this is a result of younger generations being so indulged that they lack the resilience and resourcefulness to organise themselves or maybe even to consider that being organised and punctual is that important.

  • Jane says:

    It seems we all agree – I would like to hear from someone who is always late? The few people I know who are late – always deny it when confronted – which I can never understand!!

    J X

  • Jane says:

    Not sure its generational Sue cos my kids are never late – thinks its an attitude thing
    J x

  • Becky Smith says:

    I don’t think it is generational – I have a couple of friends who are the same age as me who are always late, or change arrangements at the last minute, or suddenly can’t make an arranged appointment 10 minutes before it is due to happen and you are already there waiting for them. It drives me INSANE such blooming bad manners. I have to say one of them is so bad that if she wasn’t the mother of my son’s good friend I would have cut her out of my life long ago. I think it comes down to basic good manners, my time is a valuable as yours and I do not enjoy organising things for you to then cancel them at the last minute because you had a better offer. I have taught my children good manners and they would never dream of being late or cancelling anything she however has taught her children to not give two hoots for others and they are just as bad, if not worse than her – ho hum !

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