Monday, February 20, 2006

It's the time to be on time!

You are swamped with work, when you receive a mail, requesting you to come at 4 pm to the cafeteria, to discuss which songs should be sung for the annual day celebrations. You plan your work accordingly; reschedule a meeting with the client, and at 4 pm sharp, you go the cafeteria, to be greeted by empty chairs and tables. You sit there for ten minutes, drumming your fingers on the table, irritation mounting. One person turns up, and apologizes for the delay. You point out that you need to leave in twenty minutes, so can we start the discussion? He suggests that we wait for five more minutes for the others. Five minutes pass by, without any change in the number of occupied chairs. You say, fine, let us at least start. He agrees, and you spend ten minutes trying not to argue with each other. At this stage, the others enter, and they say, "Sorry, we had work", and you say to yourself, "Yeah, and I was surfing on the beach." Anyway it is time for you to leave. They request you to stay on, but you leave anyway, extracting from them a promise that they will come on time the next day. The next day, history repeats itself. What do you do?

I dropped out. I told them that if this is the dedication and sincerity, then I don't want to be associated with this kind of a singing group. They tried to dissuade me, but I did not budge. And I am glad.

I usually do not indulge in much confrontation and argument. But when it comes to people who do not care about other people's time, I become ruthless.

My sister had exams but had promised to help clear some doubts that her junior had. She waited and waited for the junior to arrive, even giving up on her evening walk to accommodate her. But she did not turn up. Then the next day when my sister was deeply immersed in studies, she lands up and says, "Hi, here I am". My sister, being the sweet girl she is, got up to go and help her anyway. But I happened to be around, and forbade her to step out of her room, saying, "If she cannot value your time, you need not help her". But she pacified me, and convinced me that she would spend just five minutes on her. She was true to her word, but I also knew she was very irritated. So I brainwashed her a bit before I left, to make sure this does not happen again.


Why are people like that? If they have a genuine reason for being late, then it's fine. But more often than not, most people just take their own sweet time. "I only follow IST - Indian Stretchable Time", they announce, with pride, while laughing expansively. It irritates me no end. I hate to be kept waiting, and so I do not make people wait. So I just cannot understand what gives people this "Chalta Hai" (Anything’s ok) attitude.

I know some people who say "Anyway the other person will be late, so I will also go late". My argument is - don't do that. Remain true to yourself. If each one of us makes an effort, the whole society can change. It is possible. One more reason they give is "Too much traffic". So? Don't you know Bangalore's traffic? Would you take a risk when you need to catch a flight? Wouldn't you leave much earlier? Then do it here.

If you are held up for some valid reason, then call. Communicate. Let the person who is waiting for you know that you are held up, so that s/he can do something else in the meantime. Do not think this is some kind of a formality. Do this when it comes to your loved ones too. When my husband and I need to go out somewhere during weekdays, I travel from my office to my husband's, and then we go out from there together. I give him an estimate of when I will reach his office, so that he can schedule his activities accordingly. Even if I am just fifteen minutes late, I call him and tell him that, so that he won't pack up prematurely, and he can spend that time doing something useful.

I think that we should start young. Inculcate timeliness in your children. I, in fact, got it because my parents were so particular about keeping time. I always recollect going for dinner invitations on the dot. I even remember the time my father was supposed to pick up a colleague at a particular point, and because the colleague was too late, and did not care to inform him either, my father just drove away. And sure enough, the colleague learnt a lesson.

Fortunately for me, my husband is also a stickler for time, which trait, I am sure, he got from his parents too. Recently, a couple of LIC agents who were supposed to come home were almost an hour late, and had not given any explanation either. My father-in-law just called them and asked them to do a right-about-turn and go back, wherever they might be. Needless to say, at the next appointment, they were at our place before time!

It is possible to change other people's way of thinking, if you lead by example. Why do my colleagues go to the conference room ten minutes in advance for the teleconference with the American client, and why do they go ten minutes late to the meeting organized by their manager? It is because they know that the American will start right on time, but their manager will not. If you want to ape the Americans, then ape this trait.

If you create the impression of being prompt, and get labeled as being particular about keeping time, people will have to co-operate, and hopefully, in the process, they will also change. Am I being too optimistic? Well, the world lives on hope, and I thrive on it!

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow! i think i caught this post right "on time", hot off the press! :D

i agree with u 100%. social functions are even worse - if u go right on time, u will be too early!

ano

Abhinav said...

IST has been blown out of proportion, i think these days Indian Railways also tries to do things on time, on the otherhand ppl seems to take 5-10 min delay for granted..I have noticed it has become the habit of ppl to delibrately start late.
It is time for ppl to realize that other ppls time is as precious as theirs and they should honour that.
As per me i have always believed "Punctuality is the key to Success"

Ajith said...

Shruthi.. I used to keep tag of your posts and enjoyed it but first time commenting.I cheked in the morning ( U R 1&1/2 hrs ahed of me in time) and I think I get this fresh from the Press ( or did someone said that before). Anyway you'r right about respecting the value of others time. Like your writing style and the topics. Keep it up. Good luck.

Keshav said...

First time on your blog! :)

I appreciate that there are people who think the way I do! Time is the most vluable asset one has, and people must learn to respect it.

I am a strict follower of punctuality, and have been getting flames for this triat by friends, but to my satisfaction, I have not given up. Instead, a few of them have learnt it, and are now geerally on time.

Things do change, we just need to be persistent.

Raj said...

I hate waiting too!!

And when people give lame excuses for making me wait, I let them have it :)

Supremus said...

Oh, tell me about it - waiting endless ly for others to turn out frustrates me to no end. I often get into fights with my friends over it - now a days, they give me half hour later time than others if they need to meet me else they know I am going to get angry.

The funny thing is, at least here, if the desis have to meet americans they will be on time to the second - but if its a desi meeting a desi, then the "chaltha hain" attitude comes in. Funnily enough, even after living 5 years in US, I find that many desis refuse to pick up at least one good trait of being punctual from Americans.

Good one - very "timely" article hehehe!! And your request on that post will be worked on :d

Suyog

kaushik said...

hi!
well said.....
i always make sure that i am on time. it kinda irritates me when i find myself going late to some place/event etc.....
cant say the same abt my friends though.....got used to waiting now!!

Nirwa said...

Punctuality is one thing we all need.. I absolutely hate it when people don't turn up at agreed time.. 5 - 10 minutes, for a social gathering, I would accept.. but 2-3 hours.. NO WAY!

Problem with most of the people is that they don't communicate.. Sigh.. I could write one whole post on it.. people who are late and those who don't keep promises.. hehehe

Keep writing!!

Nirwa

Sandesh said...

Totally agree with you! Punctuality is something that is very much lacking in a lot of people.
And have to say that you are one who does not make another person wait.
Cant say the same about a few of my close pals ;-)

ram said...

So true. And there is no getting around it. I have tried sweet talking, threats, even walkouts but nothing worked. I even tried the 'they will come late so let me plan accordingly' and still ended up waiting.

So now I have figured a work around - always have some activity planned for the time wasted in waiting. Like reading a book or using the laptop to do some work work. If its some outdoor activity then I carry my camera. More enjoyable than getting frustrated and upset:-D

Shruthi said...

@Ano: Oh yes, could you smell the printing ink? :D You are so right about social functions. If you go on time, it will be totally empty!

@Abhinav: Yes Abhinav, I have observed a great improvement in Indian Railways. And wow, that's a very good and correct motto.

@Ajith: Hey, thanks a lot for commenting :) I now know that I have one more reader :) And Thanks!

Shruthi said...

@Keshav: Great, I am glad you are persistent, and it is good to see that you have indeed been successful in changing a few ppl too! Gives me hope :)

@Raj: You let them have it? Great!! And have they learnt??

@Suyog: That was interesting feedback! About the Chalta hai attitude when Desis meet Desis! Anyway, Suyog, you please don't give up :)

Shruthi said...

@Kaushik: Yes, I have waited too much too, and I can even say "I have got used to waiting", but at each step, I try to reduce it :) Sometimes when making an appointment, I say "If you don't come within so and so time, I will leave" :D

@Nirwa: True!! In a social gathering, nobody is waiting particularly for you, I mean, there are others, and so, being late is acceptable. But not 2-3 hours late! When the hosts are getting ready to pack up :D
And oh yes, communication. If they tell us that they will be late, then it is excusable. Otherwise, No!!

Shruthi said...

@Sandesh: Thanks :) coming from you, that's a huge compliment :D

@Ram: That is cool! And that's the spirit!! Way to go! :)

raj plus said...

I say, Shruthi,don't take life- and your watch- so seriously. If you get a few minutes to yourself at the cafeteria, enjoy the break!

For some reason, I was reminded of this goody-goody girl called Bertha, in one of Saki's short stories ( or rather in a story within a story), who won a medal for her punctuality. Just read it and have a laugh

http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/392/

Madhooo said...

It is my first time on your blog. And I must say that I found it very interesting- especially the Kukkarahalli Kere one. Keep up the good work.:)

Shruthi said...

@Raj Plus: :D Did I really come across as stiff and proper? ;)
I waste a lotttt of time, spend hours staring at space doing nothing :)
But I honour commitments! When I am at work, and when it comes to respecting other peoples' time, I am very particular! :)

@Madhooo: Hey, thanks! :)

Shruthi said...

@Raj Plus: Yes, I have read this story :D Btw, I really appreciate your linking to stories :) Thanks!

chitra said...

Yup Shruthi... I agree with you in this regard. IST has become a matter of fun. "What da... you following IST aa?? :( .

"I value your time. So can't you at least value mine?"

Typical response(s) - "Humph...", "Chill out yaar..." etc etc...

@tom said...

Problem with being punctual is that, usually there is no-one to appreciate it!! :)

Shruthi said...

@Chitra: Exactly!! People just don't seem to understand!

@Tom: Ha ha :))

kaushik said...

hey...
r u from rvce (and the chem eng dept there) by any chance....was browsing thro the frnd list of arjun ganseh and found you there.....

Ajit Chouhan said...

some interesting thoughts...my 1st visit 2 ur blog

Shruthi said...

@Kaushik: From RVCE yes, but Arjun is my junior :)

@Ajit Chouhan: Nope, this is not your first visit to my blog :) You have commented before on my post "Reading in your mother tongue" :))

kaushik said...

oh! i am arjun's junior....
this is the first Rv'ite i have met on the blogosphere....
gr8

ada-paavi!!!! said...

i agree witu u, being on time is important.

but sometimes i am sure tht the other person ll be late, and i need to meet them, so i factor in their expected late arrival time usually round 10 minutes, if they come early (the chances of this happning are really low) i announce tht i follow IST!, but i get there 10 minutes frm the time decided earlier, whch is on time according to me

Shyam said...

I know just what you mean - I'm almost always on time and if I'm not, I try and let people know I've been delayed BEFORE I get there! So I absolutely hate being made to wait. Unpunctual people are rude, inconsiderate and extremely annoying!

Shyam said...

You've been tagged - if you want to follow up, of course :) Check my blog.

Anonymous said...

Good one... going through your posts till now, I was wondering when the punctuality issue would crop up. I am no mindreader or a shrink, but just guessed that this might come up some time or the other :)... Totally agree with you on the matter, hate it when friends show up late and dont have the courtesy to even inform why they are doing so. Its not like I am running a country or something that a few minutes of my time spent in waiting would sink the country and the economy would nosedive ;), but I feel it is just basic courtesy to keep up the time and inform the person if you are running late.

Kishore

Anonymous said...

Smthg u may be interested in
http://www.sampada.net/

Kishore

Kiwilakhs said...

Hi Shruthi,

First time here. I find it interesting, so will be back. Meanwhile, you are welcome to my blog, which, btw, has the same layout!!! Cheers.

Sanjay M said...

wow what an entry! A quick note of thanks for having reminded me of something really important. More later - but for now let me catch the office shuttle on time ;-) ...give me something to think about on the way.

(came to this entry from Kalyan's blog - he's added it to his shortcut bar :-) )

Sanjay M said...

(give = gives)

Shruthi said...

@Kaushik : Yup me too :) Great! ;)

@Vatsan: :) You really have found a way to get round your friends' unpunctual ways, right? :) Cool!

@Shyam: well said, unpunctual ppl are indeed rude and annoying!! Will check out the tag :)

Shruthi said...

@Kishore: I don't believe it! Am I so transparent? :))
And very well said. If I were you, I would start a blog of my own :) going by your comments, your thoughts are very clear and focused! Yes, am aware of that site, but haven't visited it often.

@Kiwimyl: Thank you! will visit you soon :)

@Sanjay: :) Glad that my post was of use :) Btw the link you entered here does not work - is the Kalyan you are talking about Kalyan Krishna?

Kalyan said...

yes.. its the same kalyan :) and the working link doughnut

shruthi, timely post on stopping me from slipping further to the "others" camp. The next time someone makes me wait, I'll link them to this post. :)

Shruthi said...

@Kalyan: Ha ha :) Sure!

Veena Shivanna said...

Worth a read. Very true. I try to be on time many times but sometime gets missed because of other dependancies(need to wait for your parnter to get ready, or wait until somebody come home in case you plan to travel to the venue together etc.,). Unless its a scheduled meeting(somebody specifically waiting for me), I generally don't rush.
For wedding functions etc, I generally go little late than the time on invtiation. One reason is the hosur road traffic and other is to make sure I am not on the first row.
Stephen Hawking's book is read worthy, you must have already read it.

Veena Shivanna said...

I submitted the earlier comment before completing, We just need to understand the difference between 'What is Important and what is urgent' & based on that manage time.
I hope these words are not challenged by anybody!!

Usha said...

Hey, from all the comments here and at my post it seems that everyone is irritated with late comers and are on the side of punctuality. Who IS coming late then? hehehe.
RVCE? Which year? ( My son Siddhartha V passed out in 2003!)

Shruthi said...

Veena, thank you for your comments :) Yes.. I have read Hawking's book!

Usha Ha ha :) The same thing crossed my mind :D

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