Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Amber has a post about people being late vs. early, and links to a (very long) thread thread somewhere else about the same topic. I could have sworn I posted about this before, but I can't find it in my archives where I thought it would be, so I'll pretend I haven't, and if I have, then I apologize for the repeat.

I'm always early. Well, basically. I'm just about always early when I have an appointment to meet someone, or I'm going somewhere, or I have anything to do that is at a certain time. With the exception of my 8:50 class this semester, which I've been somewhat consistently 2-5 minutes late to, mostly because I spend too long checking e-mail when I get up and don't leave myself enough time to shower and everything and still get to class on time. But lots of people are late to the class, and I don't feel that bad about it. But I feel a little bad about it, and just writing this post is going to make me set my alarm 5 minutes earlier tomorrow and get there early to make up for it. I promise. I've been one or two minutes late to my 2:20 class a couple of times just because I've been stupid and I'll cut my laundry too close, or go to the bathroom too late, or whatever.

But being a couple of minutes late to class occasionally, and literally just a couple of minutes, feels like a less egregious offense to me than being late to meet someone for something. I feel like it's rude to be late. I don't like standing outside somewhere waiting for someone, not sure when they're going to show up, so I make sure I don't do it to anyone else. I also consistently overestimate how long it takes me to get places, so I leave way too much time, and end up getting places earlier than I mean to.

I happened to have a conversation with a friend over the summer about this -- we were at another friend's birthday dinner, where most people showed up egregiously late, and they wouldn't seat us until everyone was there. The friend I was talking to was basically on time, and is usually basically on time, but he was saying he's late a lot of the time, not because he means to be, but because he'll get distracted, and he'll imagine the best-case scenario for getting somewhere -- "If I catch a train right away... If I walk really quickly... If it's closer to the near end of the street and not the far end..." -- and plan that way. I'll tend to imagine the worst-case scenario -- I won't get a train for 15 minutes, I'll get lost, I'll lose my mind -- and so I'm early.

It's not actually someone being late that I mind as much as the uncertainty. Which is why cell phones are good. I've occasionally called people to say I'm going to be 5 minutes late somewhere, which is probably unnecessary, but it seems polite. It's nice to know that someone's 5 minutes late and not 30 minutes late, or that they didn't just forget.

This post is pointless. Sorry. The links inspired me to chime in. I don't know why. I shouldn't bother writing if I have nothing to say.