Punctuality, And Lack Thereof

“Better Late Than . . . No, Just Better Late,” by Joe Queenan. The Wall Street Journal, 2/21/2015.

My wonderful wife is always on time, never, never late, even if it means driving around the block several times before  a social event to avoid arriving too early. “Come between 5:00 and 5:30 and we’ll eat at 6:00” we are told. We will be there, knocking on the door, between 5:00 and 5:01. This can send me up a wall, but it is way, way better than if she is constantly late, as many people are—Bill Clinton for instance.

Punctuality is one of the three biggies of compatibility (punctuality, orderliness, and thriftiness, see posting of 4/2/2014). If your spouse is constantly late, you had better be, too, because they will not change. Nothing you can do will change them, not prodding, not nagging, not embarrassment, not even professional therapy involving rewards for being on time.

Columnist Joe Queenan is surrounded by people who are constantly late: his wife, daughters, father, and friends. (I don’t know how he stands it.)  “But none of these people are late because of attention deficit disorder or because of a planning fallacy or because they are dreamy, laid-back Type Bs. They are late because they enjoy being late. And they have good reason to be.”

If a concert begins at 8:00, and you arrive at 8:20, you miss nothing other than a bit of froufrou by Haydn, he says. If it is a rock concert, you only miss the inevitable insipid opening act. Arrive 15 minutes late for the movie “American Sniper” and you only miss the 15 minutes of “Coming Attractions.” Back-to school nights, planning-board meetings, swearing-in ceremonies, retirement parties, church services, all have a built-in time lag that is better to miss.

Even trains, says Queenan. “When was the last time an Amtrak train ever showed up on time?” he asks.

Of course, Queenan’s analysis is mostly tongue-in-cheek, but I think he has it right when he says, “They are late because they enjoy being late.”  Some just love the drama is my observation.


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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