I learned early on that I have a bad affliction of not making concrete weekend plans. Usually I’m just lazy, but when I do, it’s mostly a one-on-one with a single individual friend who I can speak to at length about life.
A couple of weekends back, I made exactly such a plan. I reached out to an old friend after nearly 2 years, and to celebrate our union we decided to meet for brunch at quaint little café on a hill on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The location was a mid point between both our houses – symbolic of our mutual excitement to see each another.
To substantiate the plan further, we even spent the previous night plotting the minor details over WhatsApp – where we’d meet beforehand, what time we’d reach, what we’d wear etc.
I was so excited and from what I gathered, she seemed excited too.
On the day of our lunch meet though, I tried calling her before leaving, but there was no answer. I figured she must be leaving too and that she’d call me in a minute. I could manage the wait.
Thirty minutes passed, but there was no call from her. No texts. No replies to my texts.
We had decided to meet by 11:30, and assuming the plan was on track, I headed towards my door, just about to call the lift, when finally, my phone beeped.
It was 11:11, and she wasn’t ready yet.
When I called her, her tone was nonchalant, “bro, I still have to do my eyebrows”, followed by “big deal if we’re leaving at 12:00 in stead of reaching by 11:30, I woke up late” with a note of equal indifference to it.
When I called the cafe to request a table reservation for 12:30, I was told apologetically by the waiter who picked up “Sorry ma’am, but weekends we’re full up and so we don’t take reservations.” When I asked him if we would get a table on the spot, his answer wasn’t positive – the downside of choosing a popular nook.
Eventually we didn’t meet – she wasn’t ready yet by 12, I was exhausted from nagging her and there was a lot of uncertainty looming over the next restaurant we’d go to. But in actuality, it wasn’t the ‘uncertainty’ or the ‘nagging’; what really broke the last straw of our carefully constructed sandcastle of a plan was just a case of tardiness.
Tardiness: a feeling that leaves you disheartened and even dispirited at times.
Are you going to be as perky and happy meeting a friend after waiting for over an hour than you would have been minus the wait? Knowing she was an equal participant in the above-mentioned plan, couldn’t she have organized her morning better? Couldn’t she have known better to just call me?
Where had all the enthusiasm gone?
But here’s the thing about tardiness – with the unreliability of Google Maps, traffic, last minute office work and lack of effective time planning – IT IS INEVITABLE. At one point or the other someone always has to wait. Even I’ve had my fair share of tardy moments.
In most cases, delays that occur range between 15 to 30 minutes, and these in cases, this level of tardiness is often expected if not accepted.
However, when you find yourself repeatedly left waiting for prolonged periods of time, with oblique WhatsApp responses saying “can we meet at 2, instead of 12?” or “something just came up!” you know it’s not a one-off thing, it’s a chronic condition.
While this habit of lateness isn’t as intentional as it seems, persistent tardiness can get frustrating and even exhausting to deal with continually, especially when it starts to feel like a major disregard of our time.
I may have lost my Saturday to a crappy case of chronic tardiness, but after some reading, and close consideration I learned that there are many effective ways you can deal with it, as a habitually late person or even as the person, in waiting.
For the chronically tardy:
- Come to the realization: Life is unpredictable, last minute things crop up and it’s all okay. But the best thing to do in such situations is realize and accept you’re going to be late.
- Inform your friend the minute you realize you’re going to be late: The minute you realize you’re going to be late, the next best step is to make sure to convey it to your friend immediately. Don’t wait for your him/her to reach out, be the responsible person and call your friend in the morning itself. This way, not only will you avoid the constant nagging, but by enabling her to plan her day effectively, you can buy yourself some more time as well.
- Communication is key: Develop an effective channel of communication. Be honest about your status, if you still have house work left; if you’re 30 minutes away rather than the 10 minutes you’ve promised him/her, be clear about your status. Let your friends know they can still trust you.
- Be responsive: The easiest and yet the least exercised; a lack of response only fosters anxiety for the waiting person in question. If your friend is left waiting and she’s texting you, be quick to respond to her texts; take her calls. Don’t put her on the back-burner.
- Keep your time: Now that you’ve bought yourself the extra time, use it effectively. Whether it is to boil potatoes, send out that urgent mail – or even do your eyebrows – finish your task at hand without distractions.
- Be apologetic: Because it never hurts to just say sorry… and assure your friend, you do value his/her time.
For those who are always left waiting:
- Identify the personality type: According to a study conducted by San Diego State University psychologist, Jeff Conte, there are 2 types of personalities when it comes to processing time. For the timely Type A personality one minute consists of 58 seconds, where as for the laid back Type B personality, one minute consists of 77 seconds. 19 seconds seem inconsequential at the start, but it is when they add up, that you find yourself waiting for hours at an end. Identify your friend’s personality type and plan your meet timings accordingly.
- Reach late: Obviously, need I explain more?
- Carry a distraction: That chapter you wanted to finish; that TED Talk you wanted to watch; Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank you, Next’ music video or a story you’re desperately trying to pen – from a novel to a notepad, to powerful earphones and a high speed internet connection, carry whatever it takes to distract your mind and keep you from constantly looking at the café door.
- Set a time limit (then bolt): Like the old proverb goes ‘lost time is never found again’, set yourself a time limit and if your friend doesn’t show up within it, take charge and gracefully leave. OR as my case went: cancel it altogether.
- Make a back-up plan: I’ll admit, cancelling a plan can be demoralizing, especially since you had different expectations of how you’d spend your day. But dealing with repetitive tardiness can be demeaning too, so if you do take a stand and cancel your lunch, make sure to have a back-up plan. It can be anything, from a day spent in the library or with another group of friends or a dinner with your family, do whatever to keep your morale up.
- Forgive easily: Because at the end of the day when friendship comes into play, you know it trumps everything else.
Hope these tips are effective and easy when it comes to being tardy or dealing with a tardy person. If there’s anything I’ve missed, tell me through the comments below 🙂