Thursday, June 26, 2008

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One thing that really sets me off is when someone is late for an appointment (you'll probably remember me ranting about "Doctor's Offices" not long ago). And it really drives me bananas when the person is unapologetic for being late. To me, being late is a sign of disrespect to the person or persons you are to meet. I believe it was Mahatma Gandhi who said, "Being late is an act of violence, an act of terrorism, because you unnerve people." Consequently I make an effort to keep my appointments and try to arrive on time if not a bit earlier. My friends kid me that I operate on "Tim Time" as I show up earlier than just about everyone else.

Punctuality is a sign of discipline, something we try to ingrain in our youth through school bells. If you're late for a class, you are given a "Tardy Slip" which might carry a penalty of serving in "Detention" (the school's version of jail). Nonetheless, schools are trying to operate on a routine basis and have an agenda to follow in order to properly educate our youth. I cannot imagine a public or private school that doesn't operate according to such structure.

I understand President Bush is a stickler for punctuality, going so far as to lock the door to cabinet meetings when they start. I think it would be rather amusing to see the door handle jiggle from the outside by a Cabinet Secretary who arrived late for a meeting.

Back when I was managing a critical I.T. project, I would start the day with a status meeting with my team of programmers at 8:30am. Inevitably someone would show up a few minutes late thereby holding up the meeting. Being a baseball fan, I would admonish the programmers, "Do baseball players show up at game time? No, they arrive early to stretch, warm-up and practice a little." (In fact, baseball players are fined if they show up late). To overcome my problem, I changed the start of the meetings to 8:00am ("Tim Time") thereby forcing the programmers to show up earlier so we could properly accomplish our work. It's sad that we have to do such tricks to get people to show up on time.

We could also berate people for being late, fine them, or let them go, but more than anything, it bothers me that people simply lack the discipline and consideration for keeping an appointment. Maybe we need to institute some school bells in the work place and pass out some "Tardy Slips." That would be a hoot.

Tim Bryce is a writer and management consultant located in Palm Harbor, Florida.You can find his work on the Internet at:

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Copyright 2007 Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.