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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 6:29 pm | Fair 59º


Paul Burri: No Excuse for the Chronically Late

People who never show up on time show a lack of respect for others

I just thought of something else to complain about. It’s the people who are always late no matter what the occasion. I remember my grandfather grumbling about one of our relatives, “He’d be late to his own funeral.” Some people are like that.

Paul Burri
Paul Burri

Why does it really matter if someone is late by a few minutes — or even a half-hour or more? Or can we forgive those people who sometimes totally forget their appointment? Well, it happens. People forget. People get stuck in a meeting, or they get stuck in traffic, or they’re late for a hundred other valid reasons.

Those things happen and I, for one, can excuse that. Although in these days of cell phones, it would be nice to get a call telling me you’re running late.

But it’s the people who are always late that irritate me beyond words — except, of course, for these following. The message I get from these people is this: “My time is worth much more than yours. I am worth much more than you are. So if I am late, it’s OK for you to wait.”

No, no, no. Your time is not worth more than my time, and you’re not more important than I am. (Nor am I more important than you are.) I will respect you and your time; just do the same for me.

Some people, knowing this bad habit of a friend, relative or associate, will take to telling that person that the meeting is scheduled for an hour or so before the actual time. I know of a recent event that was publicly scheduled for 7 p.m. when the organizers really planned to start the event at 7:30 p.m. I totally disagree with doing this sort of thing. As soon as the late-as-usual person realizes that the meeting really starts at 7:30 p.m., guess what time he or she will show up next time?

In a previous column, I told about my experience when I worked at Disney. We had many large meetings that never started on time because there were always some people who didn’t arrive until up to 30 minutes after the meeting was scheduled. In the meantime, the rest of us sat around waiting, wasting time and the cost of valuable salaries.

This continued until one day we had a new vice president who called a meeting at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday. As usual, the last person didn’t arrive until about 2:20 p.m. As soon as that last person was seated, the VP stood up and announced, “This meeting is now canceled. It will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. this Saturday morning. Anyone who is unable to attend that meeting need not report to work on Monday morning.”

No one was ever late to one of his meetings after that.

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not represent the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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