Readers weigh in on chronic lateness
Dear Readers: I recently ran a question from “Prompt In-Law,” who reported that her beloved daughter-in-law was chronically late. In my answer, I suggested that the MIL should speak with her frankly about it, continue with their on-time plans and take separate transportation to avoid frustration.
I’ve received hundreds of responses to this letter. With the holiday season approaching, I thought I would share readers’ experiences. Here is a sampling:
Dear Amy: I have struggled with time optimism (OK, chronic lateness) my entire life. I know it is disrespectful of others and I feel terrible when I am late.
I try to get seven things done when another person would recognize there is only time for five; I underestimate the traffic; I run back into the house for an item I forgot every time I leave the house (and sometimes several times).
I have two points to share for parents of disorganized children.
1) Try not to yell when you are late. I’m already anxious, and yelling means every thought falls out of my head. Wait for a quieter moment to correct a late child.
2) Try to teach your child to break down the process of leaving the house into steps. “We’re leaving in 15 minutes. Did you pack your bag? Do you know where your coat is? Do you have a water bottle?” As she gets older, try, “We’re leaving in 15 minutes. Tell me what you need to do before we get out the door.”
— The Time Optimist
Dear Amy: I used to run 20 to 30 minutes late for everything. I rationalized that I was just busy. One day, a close and brave friend confronted me when I was late for lunch. “I cherish our time together, but your chronic tardiness is rude and beneath you,” he said. “And the unavoidable conclusion is that you think your time is more valuable than mine. Please think about it.”
I did, and though it took time to break habits, I changed ... to my great benefit.
— Tom in Winter Park
Dear Amy: My ex-husband was always late to social functions, and he’d make a scene by loudly blaming me to other guests. We had two vehicles, so I started departing on time in the car, and he got to drive up late in the ratty old pickup truck. It soon broke him of his chronic lateness.
Dear Amy: I also have a chronically late relative: my sister. In 60-plus years, good old “Slow-Stop-and-Reverse” hasn’t changed. But I have learned never to ask her to bring the appetizers.
Dear Amy: I think your answer to “Prompt In-Law” was inappropriate. My brother was also late for everything, and my parents and my siblings did as you suggested: We went on with life knowing that eventually “Tom” would arrive.
Fast-forward a few years. He had graduated from college and started his business career. He was directed by his supervisor to attend a very important meeting, and he was late. When he arrived, his supervisor’s boss said, “Don’t worry, Tom, we waited for you. Everyone in this room realizes that your time is much more valuable than theirs. Now that you’re here, we can begin today’s agenda.”
At his salary review, this incident was noted. Tom was rarely late thereafter.
— Always Be Aware
Dear Amy: Here’s how we solved the problem with my brother-in-law’s family one Thanksgiving. We had invited them for a certain time. Both families had small children. They were supposed to join us at least 15 minutes before we sat down.
When they hadn’t arrived, my husband said they were rude and we would go ahead and start the special dinner I had prepared. When his brother’s family strolled in 45 minutes later, we had started our desserts. They were shocked. They were never late again!
Dear Amy: We were friends with a couple who were always late, so when I invited them to dinner, I told them to come an hour before I planned to start serving. For once in their lives, they were on time — and I was in the shower!
— Tolerating Lateness Now
Copyright 2018 by Amy Dickinson
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency
ARIES (March 21-April 19) — Today is an 8 — A challenge requires discipline and vision. A dream could come true. Stick close to the basic structure. Experience pays. Collaborate with more talented players.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20) — Today is a 7 — Studies and explorations benefit from organization and focus. Research a long-term goal. Follow an intuitive thread. Actions taken now have long-lasting value.
GEMINI (May 21June 20) — Today is an 8 — Opposites attract. Come together for shared profit. Discipline pays off. Coordinate your plan for maximum efficiency and ease. Make some money together.
CANCER (June 21-July 22) — Today is an 8 — Work with a partner to advance. You inspire each other for creative ideas that wouldn’t otherwise spark. Put promises in writing, and schedule actions.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) — Today is an 8 — Focus on your work and health. Disciplined efforts win. Practice your moves, and build your game to new levels. Feed yourself well, and rest deeply.
VIRGO (Aug. 23Sept. 22) — Today is an 8 — Creativity comes easily. Practice your game with discipline to grow your skills and raise results. Let romance flower. Share an intimate moment with someone fascinating.