Be on Time!

We have clocks for a reason, people.

YahooNews points me to a clickbaity local news story titled “‘Ruined a day that was supposed to be hers’: Family locked out of high school graduation in Reedley.” The gist is that “around 50 people” were unable to attend the ceremony because they showed up after the event started and the gates were locked. They had tickets, which stated the gates opened at 6:30 pm and that the event started at 8:00 pm but gave no indication that they would be locked if they were late. So, they’re angry at the school district.

Having attended many events to which I showed up well ahead of the appointed time to ensure that I was seated and then had my enjoyment of said event constantly disrupted by those who did not show similar consideration, I wholeheartedly endorse the policy of shutting the doors to latecomers. Surely, 90 minutes is adequate time to park and find one’s seat.

For example, a couple of weeks back my wife and I attended a comedy show in Baltimore. That required accounting for considerable traffic, navigating a relatively unfamiliar city, and enduring a longish security line. And yet we still managed to be seated in time for the warm-up act. Yet dozens of people kept filing in throughout not only the warm-up act but the headliner.

One compromise solution that I’ve seen implemented was at what is now Capitol One arena for a Wizards game. People could come and go as they pleased during the game, to buy concessions, use the restrooms, or whatever. But the ushers held them up from returning to their seats until there was a stoppage of game action. In the case of the comedy show, those who didn’t make it in time for the warm-up act could have been held up at the back of the auditorium until she finished and then been ushered to their seats before the headliner came on.

This wouldn’t work, though, for something like a graduation exercise, which is a continuous event.

That said, it should have been made clear to ticket holders that this was the policy. People seem to naturally assume that they can just show up whenever they please and that their tardiness will be accommodated.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Society,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DeD says:

    Early is on time; on time is late; and late is unacceptable.

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  2. Modulo Myself says:

    It’s a graduation, and there are plenty of people who have conflicts involving work and child care. You let people in who show up late and that’s that. What if your mother cleans offices during the evening and needs the money, and also gets grief for clocking out early? She shows up at 8:03 and can’t get in, but at least she isn’t ruining it for other people by being selfish.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    When I drive into STL to pick up my granddaughter for the day, I leave an hour earlier than the drive time because #1, it’s rush hour, #2 construction happens, #3 accidents happen. While I usually get there an hour early (I bring a book for that time) a couple times I barely made it on time or just a few minutes late. I approach all appointments with the same mindset, leave early, bring a book.

    And yet, I have spent half my life waiting for other people. My eldest son is especially bad that way and my wife sure ain’t no saint. I long ago decided that the epitaph on my tombstone will be,

    “This time, I’m not waiting for you.”

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  4. MarkedMan says:

    @DeD: Just curious, why did you change your handle, and what does it stand for?

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  5. Jen says:

    I *detest* tardiness. I get that sometimes it is unavoidable (traffic accidents happen–you cannot control for that), but you can plan to get to an event well ahead of time.

    I was so annoyed by people showing up late for a YOGA CLASS that I stopped going to that studio. Lock the door when class starts. You’re late? Too bad.

    It’s highly disruptive and distracting.

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  6. DeD says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Just my initials. I don’t even remember what the old name was.

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  7. MarkedMan says:

    Have a couple that are good friends and we’ve done many, many things with them over the years. They fell into the category of “travel separately to any event, because they will always be rushing at the last minute or late”. And then they retired. Disorienting to have them sitting in the living room waiting for everyone else.

    A bit closer to home (in the home), my wife takes “We have to leave at 20 minutes to the hour” to mean “I’ll start getting ready to leave at 21 minutes to the hour” and that prep might take a while. But on the rare occasion that it is me keeping us from walking out the door, CRISIS!

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  8. DrDaveT says:

    I would rather have people walking in late than for the organizers to delay the start to accommodate the late people. I had season’s tickets at a local theater company for years, and it always frosted me that a show scheduled to begin at 7:30 didn’t actually start until 7:45 or later because 1/3 of the tickets sold still hadn’t been picked up at 7:30. Start on time, seat the latecomers at the first scene change.

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: “We have to leave at 20 minutes to the hour” to mean “I’ll start getting ready to leave at 21 minutes to the hour”

    Oh dawg, you just described my wife to a “T”.

    But on the rare occasion that it is me keeping us from walking out the door, CRISIS!

    Yeah, that doesn’t happen, but if something gets forgotten in the mad rush out the door, it’s definitely my fault. Because I’ve been sitting there waiting for the past half hour and should have remembered it for her.

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  10. Mikey says:

    Seems to me there’s a big difference between a widely-attended even that does not require any specific attendee(s) to be there for it to happen, and an appointment or other event that does or for which arriving late would cause a disruption.

    For the former, let people in whenever they arrive. An individual or group arriving a few minutes after the start of a graduation that is already attended by hundreds, and will probably go multiple hours, will hardly be noticed.

    If you paid to attend something, and you’re late and miss part of it, well, that’s your money down the drain.

    Of course if people arriving late will cause a disruption, close the doors, but make it clear to all scheduled attendees that this will happen.

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  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    @DeD:
    Goddam right.

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  12. Joe says:

    I realized my children had become adults when they finally internalized that they could not leave at 7 for an event that started at 7.

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  13. Mister Bluster says:
  14. Tony W says:

    When I was working I would always start team calls exactly on time, and ignore late comers’ requests to circle back on what we already covered. My phrase was typically “ask one of your teammates what you missed”.

    I was also known for leading the call with the most important/interesting business of the day – for example, bonus payout plans, or announcements of leadership changes.

    They learned pretty quickly to show up on time.

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  15. steve says:

    For a few things that are important to her my wife is on time. For everything else she is late. She has decided that at her point in life people can just wait for her. Like others here I sit in theca and wait for her.

    I was late to my older daughter’s graduation since I had an emergency and couldn’t just let the guy dies, however it was outside so I didnt have to disrupt anything and got to see her graduate and miss the speech. I would favor not letting people in until there is a break for paid events and for others it should be announced.

    Steve

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  16. CSK says:

    I’m pretty sure that people who are invariably late do so as a manner of controlling/dominating those they inconvenience. If you’re dependent on them for transportation, the only way to deal with them is by telling them you need to arrive at a destination fifteen minutes before you do. Then maybe you’ll get to the appointment on time.

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  17. Scott says:

    @Tony W: At one point in my career, I ran a standing weekly meeting. The boss was a participant but it was my meeting. I started precisely on time but she was invariably 10 minutes late (late because that was her nature, not because of work related activities). It just pissed her off that I started on time. I took secret delight in pissing her off. Being pathologically prompt, I don’t like late people.

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  18. CSK says:

    @DeD:

    Your first name is Dennis, right? 😀

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  19. Rick DeMent says:

    I’m not the most observant or motivated person. I’m pretty lazy and a horrible procrastinator. I have tapped danced though life like a drunk walking through a mine field, coming out the other side unscathed. I’m a literal embodiment of white privilege even though I came from a working class background and have have barley cracked the middle class as a tech guy in a university. I hold a master degree and a number of vender certifications some pretty tough and others not so much all of which I earned by waiting until the last possible moment to study. My life’s motto is “hard work and dedication pays off eventually, but laziness pays off right now”.

    I have very little in life to boast of other then devotion to my family and friends. But there is one thing that I have always made a number one priority …

    Showing up on time and every time.

    That one virtue has propelled me into a strata I would otherwise never even see the floor of.

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  20. Pete S says:

    @CSK:

    Yes, this, it is definitely a power thing. My wife does this two ways. One is not being ready when agreed. The other is to be ready a half hour or more before the agreed time and get mad because everyone else is not ready. She learned this from her father so what can you do.

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  21. Kathy says:

    I describe myself as pathologically punctual. I’m rarely late to anything, I’ve never missed a flight*, but I’ve missed some payments now and then when I forget (or pay the wrong card).

    Notwithstanding any contempt I may feel for those who are tardy, and in particular the habitually tardy, barring them from an event or show because they’re late seems too harsh. I may make an exception if advance notice were given that doors close at x time and no one arriving late will be allowed in, if there’s a good enough reason for that.

    For example:

    But the ushers held them up from returning to their seats until there was a stoppage of game action.

    Really? At a sporting event where fans are hollering, cheering, and carrying on, a few people coming back with soda and nachos are going to disrupt the game for all those fans who are hollering, cheering, and carrying on?

    In high school, the unofficial policy was you could come in late for class, provided you 1) didn’t knock, 2) didn’t ask for permission, and 3) quietly made your way to a seat. This created no problems, and no one ever complained their class was disrupted.

    *One time the route took to the airport was closed at one point. I had no smart phone then, so no Waze or Maps to help me out, and I didn’t know that part of the city at all. I manged to get there five minutes after boarding was scheduled to start. The plane wasn’t at the gate yet. But if it had been, I’d have managed to board.

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  22. DK says:

    Be on Time!

    Yes.

    That said, it should have been made clear to ticket holders that this was the policy.

    Also, yes.

    Both sides could have done better, here.

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  23. Kathy says:

    In the government acquisition game, there’s a hard, really hard, rule that the event when proposals are presented begins at the stated time, and absolutely no one, for any reason, can be allowed to present theirs if they are even one picosecond late.

    I literally saw this happen once. I’d been waiting, along with other participants, at the door to the meeting room where the event would be held for about half an hour, when we were allowed in. this was about 10-15 minutes before the start time. We filed in, took seats, signed the attendance sheet, and waited for the committee to get started.

    At the exact time, the head of the committee instructed the door be shut. As soon as the door closed, someone outside opened it. He was another participant, with his proposal in hand. He was not allowed in. There followed an awkward several minutes where he pleaded with the committee, then begged the rest of us for help. Eventually he went away.

    You always feel bad when this happens, even to someone competing against you. But usually the person running the committee is firm about such things, and you don’t want to antagonize the people who will be reviewing and scoring your proposal.

    What was worse, is this guy had been outside the room with the rest of us waiting for a while. When the door opened, he realized he’d left his proposal in his car. He ran to get it, ran back, and arrived just a little bit too late.

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  24. DeD says:

    @CSK:
    That’s a damned good guess! But, no; it’s my last name.

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  25. Mimai says:

    There’s well-documented cultural differences in perceptions of time and, consequently, punctuality. This can make community events/gatherings in a multicultural society a wee bit tricky.

    My cafeteria multiculturalism prefers lots of “ethnic” restaurants and markets, diverse music venues, and parks / open spaces full of all the people and animals.

    But good grief, do “they” have to be so noisy past 9pm? And do “they” have to stand so damn close to me at the market? So rude!!

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  26. Jen says:

    @Mimai:

    And do “they” have to stand so damn close to me at the market?

    One of the things I really hoped would become permanent from the pandemic was the “six feet away” rule. I get really jumpy when people crowd up on me and get too close. I think it’s a result of me being really short, and having lived in countries where personal space was just not a thing. I like my space. 🙂

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  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I’m pretty sure that people who are invariably late do so as a manner of controlling/dominating those they inconvenience.

    This is all too true, all too often.

    A thing I have done with the habitually late, is leave. It gets their attention.

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  28. al Ameda says:

    For many years, I had the longest commute to my place of work of anyone on our staff, about 60 miles, and most of it in grinding traffic. And yet … and yet … I was invariably the first one in and last one out. I made allowances to get there, be there on time.

    Now, in my private life … that’s a somewhat different matter.
    If there’s a time certain for a special occasion – a wedding, baptism, confirmation, eulogy, graduation, etc., I will always be on time.
    If it’s general – a barbeque, a brunch, etc I will probably be fashionably late (5 10 15 minutes, something like that) I don’t like being there first, I feel that I’m intruding on the hosts.

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  29. Slugger says:

    How does punctuality work in non punctual cultures? I was raised in a culture where pünktlichkeit was highly valued. I remember looking out the door at my parents’ house at 5:55 where a German friend was waiting to ring the door bell at 6:00, the time he had been invited. How do the non punctual people handle appointments, entertainment start times, etc?

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  30. Kathy says:

    @Slugger:

    Maybe you get berated for being on time?

    BTW, I’ve one exception to my timely habit: parties of every kind, including the dreaded meal after Yom Kipur. Such things never start on time. You wind up waiting, often alone and in an unfamiliar place, for anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes for someone else to show up.

    Last post Yom Kipur dinner, I left at the stated start time. I took 40 minutes getting there (lots of traffic), and between entering the apartment complex and finding a parking spot, I arrived like 50 minutes past the start time.

    Aside from my sister, who was cooking, I was the first one there.

    I also arrive late at movies, because the first 15-25 minutes are previous and ads.

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  31. Mimai says:

    @Jen:
    I like my space too. Of course, that raises the question of what “my” means.

    Gender matters a lot in this context. I suspect you are all too aware of this.

    Although rare, I did once see a patient with diagnosed frotteuristic disorder. That wasn’t the focus of our work, but it wasn’t not the focus either. If memory serves, he was quite punctual.

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  32. dazedandconfused says:

    I can forgive being late, but not whining about suffering for being late. In the words of Don Corleone

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  33. CSK says:

    @DeD:

    Be grateful you’re not named David Dennison. 🙂

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  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen: Short may play a role, but I’ve been 6″+ for most of my life (since HS at least) and Luddite still kids me about how I start looking for the exits right away when we go to Ikea, or some event with a large crowd. So, there are other factors at play; in my case, misanthropy plays a role (and I’m getting worse as I get older).

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  35. CSK says:

    @Jen: @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I hate it too, and I’m 5′ 10.”

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  36. EddIeInCA says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Sorry. My mom was that woman, and yet she was always on time. My mother had a saying, that others have also noted here: “If you show up on time, you’re 15 minutes late.”

    She taught us to ALWAYS be on time. In fact, I have a 15 minute rule. If I’m supposed to meet you somewhere for something and you’re 15 minutes late without calling, I leave. Period. I just leave.

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  37. Joe says:

    @Slugger: I spent some time on a Sioux reservation in the ‘80s. “Indian time” was a commonly discussed concept by people of all colors, which meant wandering in whenever you got there, usually well past the appointed “white people” time. It was a common joke when meetings were set for, say 2:00pm: “Indian time or white people time?” No matter the answer it was run on Indian time. It worked just fine, but made me get out of my white time mindset.

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  38. Kazzy says:

    @Joe: On the flip side, I will know that my children have become adults when they don’t ask to leave at 6PM on Monday for a baseball game that starts at 6PM… on Wednesday.

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  39. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Jen:
    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I’m short (5’6″) but I attribute my hatred of having people inside my personal space to 3+years where the dude up tight against me was likely to punch a 5″ shiv through my liver or kidney. Every. Single. Minute. I. Was. Outside. My. Cell.

    She who must be obeyed still remembers the time I almost decked her friend/exercise guru who excitedly ran up behind me and grabbed me in a hug. That was years after I got out. 40 years later, and I still won’t let many people within arm’s reach.

    ETA. But yes, there are reasons I shop for Cracker at the mall, IKEA, and Costco without him. Forcing him inside would be mean. But occasionally I forget, and despite being a Cracker, he’s always a good sport about it.

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