Yesterday, one of my best friends in the world accidentally delivered an amazing lesson about why you should always do your absolute best to do what you say your’re going to do, or more specifically, to be somewhere when you say you’re going to be there.
I’ve known this friend for a long time, we met in early high school, she’s incredible. I’ve been coming around her place for almost ten years, and I know her parents quite well: very honest, hard-working and hospitable people. They are always happy to see me, they hug and kiss me, ask me how I am, how my parents are, and of course: why I don’t come around more often, stuff like that. They’re great, I adore them.
Last night I had some girlfriends over and we were talking about punctuality; they had arrived at my place an hour late, with only one exception. We were joking around: I was made fun of for not being the most punctual person in the world myself.
Now, I’ll make sure to be on time for official appointments like a dental cleaning, job interviews, classes: I hate being that one person that keeps everybody waiting, nor do I want to disrupt the schedule of a professional. I always make sure to be on time for stuff like that. But when it comes to social appointments, I’m not very punctual. Often I find myself running ten minutes late. If not more.
And then my friend said, laughing: “Did you know that when you’re supposed to come over and you’re late, my dad is just sitting there, waiting? He’s always supersleepy but refuses to go to bed, just so he can say ‘hi’ to you!”
And it hit home. Because I pictured that sweet, grey-haired man sitting there, yawning but looking out the window, waiting: just so he’d be downstairs when I arrived. Just so he could give me a hug. Just to ask me about my life and my family and see if I’m okay. Just to show me he cares about me. And I had been letting him wait unnecessarily, so many times. This man, who works a tiring full-time job, sitting there, and I let him wait.
And then I thought of the other friends I have let wait for me. Of the many casual social dates I came rushing into, for no good reason other than procrastination or bad planning on my part.
And I realized more than ever that it’s disrespectful. Even if it seems tiny and insignificant, it comes across as a sign that I don’t care enough to be on time for someone. It comes across as if I don’t value their time and presence. And giving off the impression I don’t love people is not something I want to do, especially when I adore them. I don’t want my friends to ever be under the impression I don’t value their time and presence.
So I’m going to show respect by being on time for them. So we can spend the time together that we had decided upon and so they know I know their time is valuable. They could have been doing a thousand other things that day; I should consider myself lucky when they want to spend time with me.
Of course you don’t have to be as dramatic about it as I’m being right now, and argue for circumstances for being late like public transit and lost keys. You can also say that “everybody does it” and “it’s not that big a deal”.
Well, fuck those excuses. All I keep picturing is my friend’s dad. It’s a really powerful image to me. And so is giving off even the tiniest signal I don’t value my friends as they should be valued.
I’m going to be on time from now on. Fashionably late is fucking lame anyway. Considerately on time is going to be the next big thing as far as I’m concerned.