I am not a fan being late for anything ... however important or unimportant that something is!
In fact I'd rather be 10 minutes early for most things ... probably because I'm naturally quite conscientious, want to be dedicated to something I commit to and wouldn't want to let someone down. Having said that, I'm unlikely to be one of the first at a party as that awkward getting going part can often be too uncomfortable! So basically a total contradiction!
Recently a friend of mine in Australia shared a blog entry from the Firebrand Talent website which I found quite amusing! No, you are not ‘running late’, you are rude and selfish. When I first read it I thought it was a really extreme perspective but after I let some of the details sink in I came to see a lot of it made perfect sense!
When I got married, both me and Mark found it funny that when we got ready to go somewhere it would take me four times as long as him! Something that we adjusted our schedules to accommodate pretty quickly! Although Mark isn't as bothered to be as punctual as me!
Then the girls came along and even though we always aim to leave the house at least half an hour before we actually need to, we still arrive places up to half an hour later than planned! Sometimes it really frustrates me because I naturally want to be reliable and when I promise I'm going to be somewhere I'll be there when I say I will. (Did that sentence just make sense?!) At other times I feel completely justified in being a little late, especially with two little ones.
Of course 'time' and 'being late' is quite a western concept. Living in Tanzania for two years made me realise that as long as you get to somewhere you promised to be a some point ... probably on the day you said you would be there, then that's great! In fact, there is no understanding of being 'on time'.
This was something that took getting used to and while it may sound not too bad think about the implications. For example, you cook a meal which is ready and waiting for several hours and totally ruined by the time your guests arrive or you race around trying to make sure you and your family get out of the house and into the car to get somewhere and then the people you're meeting don't show til a lot later in the day and find it unusual that you were there so much earlier than them!
The cultural differences of time are just one of the many that as a family we'll need to take time to adjust to whichever country we live in as we move around the world. We'll have to fight any natural tendencies to feel put out when it doesn't work out as we'll expect from our own background and try hard to understand what within specific cultures the 'norm' protocol is!