Time is valued differently among people, for a physicist it is considered one of a few important fundamental quantities, for an astronomer it could be the distance between planets, for a businessman it could mean money, for a surgeon it is a matter of life and death, for a champion it is the difference between victory and defeat, for a cook it’s the delicious conversion of food from raw to cooked.
Despite the fact that recent scientific studies discovered the femto and attoseconds, yet some Egyptians still perceive an hour (i.e 3600 seconds) as insignificant, shamelessly and happily wasting time, not only for themselves but mostly wasting other people’s time along, generally this is considered as a "no big deal". The irony is that Egyptians were the first to invent a clock, the primitive device dates back to 1500 B.C and was used to simply determine different parts of the day.
But to be honest, showing up late is not a nation related syndrome (although we could easily win a gold medal if we competed with other nations in being late); it is rather a personal problem. It is a habit that we acquire as we grow up; we either raise our children to value time or just let them waste it. There are people who are punctual by habit and those who find punctuality impossible. I found a simple test while surfing the net to determine if we are punctual or not by answering the following questions:
Are you always rushing at the last minute? Are people always impatient or angry at your tardiness? Do you always make excuses for being the last one to show up? Did you lose a job/friend/chance/money because you didn’t time things right?
If you answer yes to more than one question, then you are far from being punctual and you could be categorized under one of two types of being late; fashionably late and chronically late.
Fashionably late is being the last to reach an event for the thrill of the grand entrance, people who seek attention consider arriving late as their moment of recognition. This is OK for time-flexible events like a cocktail party for example but is absolutely unacceptable for professional appointments or surprise birthdays when timing is the core of the event.
Chronically late is being late for everything and it has nothing to do with entrances, it has more to do with exits; you can’t control the time you get out of the shower, or you can’t estimate the exact time to reach your destination, you suddenly remember several little chores that seemed trivial last night but need to be taken care of right now and can’t get out of the house before you do them.
The cause for being late could be a technical problem, of course there are things out of our hand, like the traffic in our beloved stand still streets at rush hours (more like a 24 hour rush, as it seems that everyone is everywhere all the time), last minute assignments handed by your boss, a sick child, or a flat tire. But there are also psychological problems related to being late, sometimes it is a carryover from a rebellious childhood, some people love the adrenaline rush and think that they can’t be motivated unless there is pressure, some people can’t wait, they hate the anxiety so they chose to be late as not to experience the scary moments of anticipation, some have low self-control, they can’t say no to an extra phone call or can’t turn off the TV because its time to go and some underestimate the time needed to do even simple tasks of getting dressed to work, all of the above lead to showing up late.
While etiquette allows half an hour if you are invited to a party, (8-ish or 9-ish could mean 8:30 or 9:30), for attending any other event, late is considered rude and that you are subtly sending a message that you couldn’t care less about this event/person/job.
I asked my friends and colleagues about their punctual vs. the not so punctual habits, I found out that people who are punctual have a sense of respect for one’s self and for others, (mind you, this respect never fails to earn you promotions and admiration from your superiors and friends and it makes one look dependable and responsible). While the chronically late sees that it’s not such a big deal to arrive late at work appointments or gatherings and that the punctual person is probably an obsessed person who has no sense for fun. The funny thing is that it’s really how most people perceive a punctual person, he is considered as the bad guy who has no right to be angry if he was stalled for hours with no good reason other than lame excuses of a person who lost track of time. Some people said that they know they should be on time and that they make other people angry, but that they just can’t help it!!!!! Sometimes, the person who is late expects understanding from the people around, and sometimes he gets annoyed if someone hinted on their regular delay. Well, if you think about it, the person who showed up on time was considerate enough to drop what he was doing to be there for the appointment. This delay doesn’t just kill the joy of a gathering, but it would definitely sabotage relationships, eventually, both parties will lose interest because no one likes to be constantly ignored just as no one likes to be constantly reprimanded.
Look at the costs for being late and the payoffs of being on time and you will agree that it is worth searching for the root of the problem and dealing with it.
In such a progressive and rapidly developing world, we cant afford to lose time more than we already do in traffic or waiting for a plumber or in line; matter of fact, achievements are no longer based only on post-grad certificates but are rather associated to personal attributes like time management skills.
I have read somewhere that "To manage ones time is to waste less time doing the things we have to do so that we spend more time doing the things we want to do" So be it professional, social or personal being on time is definitely rewarding!