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Everyday Ethics

We all have that one friend or family member who’s guilty–they say they’ll meet you for dinner at a quarter to seven, and seven-thirty rolls around before you catch a glimpse of their apologetic face. No matter how often you glance irritably at your watch as they breeze in, no matter how obviously it irks you, they simply cannot be on time.

If you don’t have that friend or relative, you probably are that friend or relative.
What gives? And why does it matter?


I consider this a (minor) ethical issue. Abusing your friends’, family’s or co-workers’ time and patience is a discourtesy that really should not stand. Of course, there are exceptions. If you’re a few minutes late once in a while, no biggie, but what about those folks who are regularly 10, 20, even 30 minutes or more tardy every time you arrange to see them? They leave you standing outside of restaurants in the cold, idling in cars in their front yards, make you think they’re standing you up for dates, and all around show you their low regard for your valuable time.

I’ve been guilty of tardiness a time or two, but being someone who can’t be counted upon, someone who shows such slight regard for others’ feelings–well, they deserve a wag of my sanctimonious finger. Punctuality is a sign of a thoughtful, organized person. Lateness shows frantic last-minute hurry; it reflects ill on your capabilities. Whatever the cause–anxiety, poor time management skills, procrastination, failure to prioritize–the solution is courtesy and respect for others.
What do you do if you have a friend who is habitually tardy? I say you have to spell it out for them–it’s unacceptable, a slap in the face, and you aren’t going to take it anymore. It’s that, or start lying about what time you’re really meeting, and why should you have to play that game? 
To sum up, fashionably late is hopelessly out of date.
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