My lunch appointment is late, and admittedly I feel its rude. After all, I work three jobs, am trying to build up my own business, be a good steward of my family, while also seeking to manage hobbies that reenergize me. Admittedly my responses towards people’s tardiness are inconsistent. Part of the time I’m fine with someone being late. Today, however, I feel this person’s tardiness is inconsiderate….or is it?
We live in a culture where delays are accepted more and timeliness is not. Some would argue this leisurely shift within our schedules is a good thing. It represents an attitude that’s not rigid and more open to people’s backgrounds and demands. Others still insist that tardiness should never be accepted. They believe without exception it is rude and that timeliness should remain standard etiquette for each other.
Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle as you might too. I had a Father who taught me, “To be early is to be on-time, to be on-time is to be late, and late is unheard of.” Couple this quote with my training as a Military Officer and timeliness is ingrained within me.
In contrast, another part of me relates to my two generations. Being born just on the edge of both the Millennials and Generation X, I consider myself a “Millennial X.” As a hybrid of the two generations, I know another part of me leans towards the casual side of being punctual. Realizing my tension between the informal and the formal parts of myself, I often ask, “which approach is right?” Simply put, both are correct.
It’s true that we should be considerate of others by trying to be punctual. We don’t know what their schedule is like on their side of life. Simultaneously, it’s important to be flexible and give others the benefit of the doubt. Again, we don’t know the full context causing a person to be late. For example, after I met with my friend for lunch he voluntarily apologized and explained his reason for being late. It turned out he was helping someone who was going through a difficult time in life.
Despite initially being annoyed I never brought up his tardiness, which was the right choice. By knowing his full situational context my small measure of inconvenience became insignificant. Plus I learned a valuable lesson: “I should strive to be on-time, but give grace to others when they’re late.”
Time is a precious commodity, and we must not waste it. We must also not forget that also people are valuable resources. Both the people we meet and the people they influence are precious commodities. Therefore it’s important that we avoid jumping to conclusions when others are late. One’s tardiness may mean the world to another person, even people we may never meet. Any negative response is likely to waste our time, energy, and emotions. Remember, the only person we can change is ourselves. As a result, we should strive to become resilient in our attitudes towards our schedules, yet compassionate towards others.
In other words, we must learn how to “plan to wait.”