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<rant>I have never been late for work. I've never been late for school. The times I've forgotten or been late for an event I planned with a friend - avoidably or otherwise - can be counted on the fingers of two pairs of hands.

Perhaps it's for exactly those reasons that the unreliability of others seems so obnoxious to me. If, at 1:30, you tell me that you'll call me at 4:30 so that we can set up dinner plans, and then for no real reason you fail to call, I am bothered. If you're 30 minutes late for no real reason, I'm bothered.

Far too many people don't seem to understand why behaviors like those bother me. They don't understand why I claim that forcing me to wait 30 minutes for a friend's arrival or indefinitely for a phone call to set up dinner plans demonstrates a lack of respect for my time. Apparently, those minutes, hours, and days could not have been better spent than in waiting for someone.

I don't care if plans change. If I plan to meet a friend at 5 and he calls at 4:30 to say he can't make it, that's fine. Shit happens and I'll find something else to do. However, if at 5:30 I give up waiting and calling to check on him, that's just rude.

Most of the time I let behavior like this slide. If I did not - if being repeatedly, habitually unreliable disqualified someone from being an acquaintance or friend - I think I might have very slim pickings.

What's so hard about being reliable? What great difficulty is there in simply remembering to call someone, in respecting their time? Why, after I've told people how I feel, does the behavior continue? It's selfish, it's obnoxious, and it's certainly not the way I treat people.


8 Responses to "(Un)Reliability"

  1. I've got the same feelings as you, and I usually don't have a problem telling someone in the face. When meeting certain folks I usually arrive about 30mins late, because I already know that they won't be on time.

    The most annoying thing are people calling 5mins before meeting time (so I'm almost there) that they won't be able to make it and will arrive 30mins later. As if that would change anything.

  2. I used to let things like that bother me, but I've realized that the people who get late, or don't show up at all, are repeat offenders, and I've learned to take their "word" with a pinch of salt. When they say they'll "be there", or "call" or whatever, I hear it as them saying that "we'll be in touch, perhaps we'll do something". And, quite frankly, I think that's what they actually meant, too.

  3. I'm not one who lets time worry me - I try to be ontime (and bar once when the bus lied, have been so to work every time), I also try not to cancel (because cancelling gets me more than being late).

    I certainly wouldn't "just not show" (quoting, er, someone).

    However if someone is consistently late it may be worth just thinking their internal clock is wrong, and compensating for it.

  4. Sorry.

    I'm one of those two to ten minutes late people, so I am getting to see how others probably feel about that. I normally manage to call on time -- I just don't manage to leave on time about half the time, which is probably more frustrating to others than consistancy.

  5. Yeah, I generally get really annoyed by habitual lateness, too. I have two exceptions, though. First, I'm not bothered by anything from one to five minutes late. Second, the meeting is scheduled as something like "seven-ish--I'm not sure what time I'll be done with x, y and z, so I could run as late as seven-thirty". As long as I know ahead of time, I'm cool (my job makes the time I get off work unpredictable enough that I have to do that fairly frequently, so I'm not about to kill someone else for doing it).

  6. I continually have this problem. My favorite being a place that I volunteer at.

    I get a phone call asking if I can volunteer some time on Thursday. The person that called didn't know what time they would need the volunteer. They ask me to call someone else to get the time. I call them and they say whatever time I can volunteer on Thursday would be great. I tell them and they say that should be fine, they will call me to confirm. (mind you, I am volunteering my time and they have already taken up 20 minutes of it with their disorganization). They call me to confirm on Wednesday evening telling me who I would be working with.

    On Thursday I get to the place 10 minutes before I am scheduled. A sign on the door tells me they will be back soon. I waited for half an hour.

    When I got home (the commute is about half an hour each way) I called to leave a message. The person I was suppose to meet was there saying I must have just missed him.

    If you think you are pissed when a friend blows you off, imagine when you are trying to help out an organization and they treat your time like crap.

    For some reason we appear to have been raised in a culture where everyone thinks that what they are doing is far more important than what anyone else is doing. But I must admit I do get a lot of reading done waiting for people. And I won't put down the book until I have finished the paragraph or page I am on after the friends have arrived.

    And don't get me started on people who take cell phone calls while I am talking to them at dinner...

  7. Man, I feel the same way as you. If you ever decide to live in Spain, be forewarned—*nobody* does anything on time.

    I wonder if you share another pet peeve of mine—I find it really annoying when people can't give decent directions, like forgetting to mention the fork in the road on the way to their house.

  8. Online directions tend to suck too, but I can usually manage fairly well with mapquest and the directions of my friends.