I don’t think I’m obsessive about being late until it happens.  Today, I spent the morning and afternoon running errands.  I had appointments all day.   I often joke that I never leave my house only one time.  That is because I almost always remember something that I didn’t put in the car and I needed to take.  In addition, once I get into the car I find things that should have been taken out but were not because of one reason or another.  Then, of course, once I’m back in the house, I remember a couple of other things.  I usually allow at least 15 minutes just to get into my car and drive out the driveway.

This morning I began my journey with an appointment across town.  Happily, my trips back into my office, didn’t hinder me enough to make me run late.  Then I came across a road closure that seemed to ensure that I’d be late for my first appointment.  However, I made my appointment on schedule, until I found that all the doors to the office where I was supposed to come were lock and there appeared to be no entry.  I had to trek back to my car to find the phone number of the company and then call them.  I was right on time.

After several other errands, I was early for my next two appointment.  I was on time for the next one.  For me that’s a pretty successful day. 

Last week, I was leading 35 people to Orlando from Vero.  We were to meet at 7am to get to an amusement park by 9:45am.  I had allowed 30 minutes because with this size crowd someone is always late.  Sure enough, a Christian lady with a group home within the mentally challenged community was 30 minutes late.  There were 30 people waiting for her and the four other people in her van.  I called her to inquire, “Where are you?  There are 30 people here waiting for you.”  

 “I’m getting gas,” she explained in an irritated tone of voice.  “I passed you 15 minutes ago and I’ll be there when I get my gas.”

“We were to leave at 7am.  Everyone is here and we are waiting on you.”

“You aren’t waiting on me!” she insisted with an amazing amount of illogic.  “You are waiting  for this pump to fuel my car with gas.  I CANNOT go unless I get gas.  I think that should be pretty easy to understand.”  I could not help but laugh at her irrational reasoning.

But it wasn’t a laughing matter.  If you multiply the 30 minutes we were waiting by the number of people who were waiting, there were 15 man hours wasted by this one inconsiderate person who had no regard for other people.

This isn’t a problem only in the mentally challenged community.  It is universal.  In fact, there are some cultures that seem to have no concept of time.  I rationalized the rudeness of the person who kept us waiting by explaining to the waiting crowd.  “I think she is just one of those folks who has no concept of time.”

However, once we were at the amusement park, we had to wait on the head and organizer of the excursion who was coming from a different town.  She was delayed by a woman who became physically ill as they were ready to leave.  She was throwing up and had diarrhea.  After she was settled, another woman decided that she didn’t want to go and she wanted to go back home.  Of course, it is kidnapping to transport anyone against their will.  Therefore, the person in charge was legally bound to call the parents and have them come back to bus stop and pick up their adult child.  All this meant that she and her group were one hour late leaving and one hour late arriving to meet us.

Everyone understood and no one was upset, except one person.  You guessed it.  My illogical traveling companion who saw no harm in taking 30 minutes to get gas.  She was furious.  “I’m not going to wait any longer,”  she fumed and fussed.  “It’s hot out here.  You figure out a way to get us into that park right now.  I cannot believe that anyone could be this inconsiderate.  I’ll never come anywhere with you again,”  she attempted to verbally slap me with her final blow.

Had the situation not been so ridiculously illogical, I would’ve been more irritated.  But what it did do for me was to re-emphasize the importance of being considerate of other people’s time.  Within the mentally challenged community, it is sometimes considered acceptable to let our members wait.  “After all, they spend most of their lives waiting” seems to be the illogical rationale.

Yet, it isn’t acceptable or appropriate or polite.  Taking advantage of anyone and wasting his or her time is like stealing one of our most precious commodities–time. 

A time-management expert once explained that people who plan on leaving 30 minutes to 1 hour early are the people who are on time for appointments.  The people who leave allowing only enough time to arrive at an appointment on time, are always late.  Seems like a simple formula to me.  Want to be on time?  Leave early.  Want to be late?  Leave on time.

What about you?  Are you one time or do you often find yourself being 15 to 20 minutes late no matter where you go?  Do you leave your members waiting?