She was late. Again.
Why did I expect anything less? "I'll be there at 10:30," she said. This
meant I came into the office four hours early because there was some business that needed
to get done for her and that was the only time she could make it.
At 11, I called her cell phone. "I'm 10 minutes away," she said.
I've always excused it as having been raised by a railroad man. My father didn't work
for the railroad, but he worked on the train. In the days when they transported mail by
train, he worked in the mail car, between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
When you work on a train, you learn to be on time. Always. Train timetables don't wait
for people's convenience. At least they didn't used to. I don't know about now.
So I grew up being very prompt. And while there are few things that consistently get me
upset, lateness is one of them. I think it is the height of inconsideration (or arrogance)
to assume that people have nothing better to do than to sit around waiting for you.
I actually had things to do today, believe it or not. I was making good progress on the
stack of typing, which I had to leave in order to meet her because 10:30 was the only time
she could get there.
So I sat and twiddled my thumbs (and found some busy work around the office, but I
really wanted to be finishing off the typing deadlines) and waited until it was convenient
I have worked for physicians who program "lateness" into their routine (Dr. G
is not one of them, fortunately-and if he's late, he always calls to apologize). One
physician would look at his schedule and if his first patient was scheduled for 9 a.m.,
that meant he had to leave his house no later than 9:15.
Maybe schedules don't matter any more. I don't know.
The Lamplighters is one of the few theatres I know which actually starts on time. Not
so much now, but in the 60s the man who ran things (who had been a Naval officer) insisted
on the curtain going up on the dot of 8 p.m. If there was a traffic jam which was delaying
the patrons, he would hold the curtain, but he would get up and explain to the audience
why the curtain was being held.
Now 8 p.m. shows start anywhere from 8:05 until 8:15. (Steve recently told me that
Jimmy, his partner, who worked on Broadway, says that no 8 p.m. show starts before 8:15 --
so maybe it's The Lamplighters who are off. Who knows?)
My promptness may be one of my major character flaws. I have never learned the knack of
being fashionably late. To me, if you are invited to someone's house for a social
occasion and the invitation says 8 p.m., you arrive at 8 p.m. Brasilians used to laugh at
me. 8 p.m. "Brasilian time" would be closer to 10. But I generally try to arrive
about the time for which I have been invited. Frequently that means that I'm the only one
there for some time.
The worst example of that was a Christmas party my boss gave the first year I was
working for the UC Physics Department, back in the early '60s. I don't know what time the
invitation said, but I showed up on the dot, like I always did. Not only weren't they
ready, but the host was still in the shower. I was mortified.
After that I tried to force myself to be fashionably late to social gatherings. It goes
against my grain, but I try not to arrive too early (more because it's less embarrassing
for ME to wait until someone else is there before arriving).
But that's a social occasion. I still believe that in the business world, even a casual
business like this one, if you say you're going to be somewhere at a certain time, you
have a responsibility to be there at that time--especially if someone has made special
accommodations for you.
I've never known her to be on time. And when she arrives, she never has enough time to
discuss anything because she's already late for her next appointment. She's a very nice
person, but her tardiness drives me to distraction.
Oh yeah-and the "10 minutes away" she was when I called her? She arrived 20