Jun 2, 2015

Greg Savage On Being Late

So there's this guy Greg Savage. He's a bigwig founder of three or four successful staff recruiting businesses and all-important world-renowned keynote speaker, blah, blah, blah.

He recently posted an article about his views on being punctual that intrigued me. You can read it in full here: http://gregsavage.com.au/2010/06/07/no-you-are-not-%E2%80%98running-late%E2%80%99-you-are-rude-and-selfish/ 

He starts off like this:

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.
Okay, sure. That's annoying. But you know what, meetings mean multiple people. Multiple people means that some are going to be on time and some are going to be late. Depending on your job, this can get you fired or it might be fine. I don't see why you're complaining. Either you start the meeting at 9 or you have some time to touch up notes and chat with people. Let it go.
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?
Whoa, wait. You just said that the people were 30 minutes late. Now they're 3 hours late? Who waits three hours for one person in the meeting? Maybe you'd wait 3 hours for the boss. So if you aren't ready to start the meeting, what are you doing just sitting there for 3 hours. Seriously, do something productive while you're there. It's not like you have to sit glued to your seat doing nothing for 3 hours. You're just looking for excuses to not do anything for 3 hours. That's called laziness. Plus, sorry I didn't catch that bus. Not all people can afford gas and a car. And believe it or not, people miss the bus. It happens. Of course people were thirty minutes late and stopped to get coffee and sandwiches too. If meetings always start late then you could afford to go and get coffee too. Seriously, you're the only one who's just sitting still for 3 hours not doing anything except whining that your meeting is late.
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!
So if they're requesting the meeting and you know that they're going to be late just say no or shut up, order a coffee, and bring a book.
And it’s not only business.
No, of course not. 
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.
Okay, well the only time it matters is when it's your own dinner party. And if these people are so annoying just don't invite them to your freaking dinner party. Sometimes people are busy at 7:30, but they're your friends and they want to see you, so they make the effort to come an hour later. Plus, it's a party so there are others there, and again, if it's not your own dinner party, why the hell do you care?
 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.
No, they wouldn't dipshit. The reason the parties start early is because people plan for people to be late. Besides, there's always going to be a few asses like you who show up on time for EVERYTHING and complain about others, which is the reason the cool people don't show up until later, when they don't have to spend as much time talking to you.
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.
Okay, again. Sure, it might be annoying, but people do have reasons for being late. Plus, friends aren't friends because they show up to every social gathering exactly on time. They're friends because they care about you and make the freaking effort to show up. You could show up at 8:20 too. It wouldn't hurt the world and you'd have a better time.
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.
Maybe, but some people actually are middle class and have to spend time actually working and can't afford to drink a bottle of fancy Pinot by themselves in a fancy restaurant. Spend a day trying to take care of a kid, doing all the cooking, and without a car. Then we'll see how on-time you are.
 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.
And I act on it, too. My dentist kept me waiting 50 minutes not long ago. She has done it for years and years. But enough! I walked out, past a literally open-mouthed receptionist who had never seen a patient act on their frustration, only to get a frantic call from the dentist herself as I got into my car.
Sure she was “busy”, another patient took longer than she expected, blah blah.
Blah blah blah. I just had to perform 3 oral surgeries and I had to wait around to make sure my patient woke up from the anesthesia, but I'm sorry for making you wait. Your root canal is obviously more important than all of my other patients'.
But hold on, I am busy too! I would not keep her waiting 45 minutes if she came to see me as a candidate. And yet I am HER customer. I told her I have been coming to you for 15 years but don’t take me for granted. See fewer patients in a day if you have to, but see me on time or close to it. She has never kept me waiting again.
Oh, so now she should drop other patients and take a lower salary so that she can pander to your needs. Great.
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!
Well if you hate those people so much, why do you keep making meetings and dinner plans with them?
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.
Good for you. Personally, I'd rather take a late friend over a serial whiny ass any day of the week.
It’s that important.
Yes. Your needs are more important than anyone else's in the world. What? You're doctor's appointment was late? Sorry, I just had a code blue and had to shock someone back to life, but next time I'l l take you're needs into account. Next time I'll tell my kid to get himself to school, and make the bus driver wait for me, and tell my cats to feed themselves. Seriously, the nerve of some people.