Punctuality is a quality, a resource, a value. If “time is money”, being late means being in debt. People who arrive on time allow us to optimizer our trips, to plan ahead and minimize the wait. Minimizing waiting, means cancelling moments spent doing nothing, "unproductive" time. Therefore, one must never be left waiting. Time is wasted it's painful, it's a failure.
Punctuality is a quality, a resource, a value. If “time is money”, being late means being in debt. People who arrive on time allow us to optimize our trips, to plan ahead and minimize the wait. Minimizing waiting, means cancelling moments spent doing nothing, "unproductive" time. Therefore, one must never be left waiting. When time is wasted it's painful, it's a failure.
❝ Arriving early, is a subtle measure of the empty time that separates us from the sharp hour, it's what we are before we're present then. But those who arrive late, most likely, experience a similar feeling, having taken the time to not be there before it being then.❞ Tweet— Jean Baudrillard, Fragments, 1995
In XXth century fables the disappearance of waiting led to the division of labour : the day must be sequenced by consecutive tasks. This daily submission to hours' dividing of time is a founding element of many productivity rationales. People comply, at their own pace, with the rhythm followed by machines, series and objects.
Being on time, in Western societies, is a form of acknowledgement, as you prevent others from waiting, from "wasting their time". However, until the the meeting occurs, our hosts appear to be on hold. They are forbidden from everything except counting the minutes. When we're expecting someone that's late, we spend our time making notes of it. Yet, even while "waiting for Godot" we're not doing nothing.
Starting something without knowing how much time we can dedicate to it
The paradox of waiting makes the first minutes of lateness acceptable, in a lateness of sorts : those are courtesy minutes. Then comes recognition. Then speculations : is this the right place ? Things start to fall into place. We start “stressing out” (R. Barthes, 1977). We get angry. We worry. Upset, we decide to leave, but what if they arrive just as we leave, we'll have waited for nothing ! So we wait. A shift also exists regarding company time one where decide to stay so that are investment doesn't become nul and void (Companies that continue to rely on professions however obsolete they may be follow this logic).
❝ An event's or any kind of decision's sudden deprograming are part of these subtle pleasures that chance can grace us with every now and then.❞ Tweet— Jean Baudrillard, Cool memories IV, 2000
Nevertheless, there is another way to experience time. One in contradiction with a distinction guided by urgency, punctuality and pace, there's a time designed by memory, reverie, absorption. Waiting doesn't occur like a shortage to be fixed, but like a playground for endless possibilities. An enclave. On a train, we look through the window without impatience. Contemplating sceneries freed from delay, is a form of abandonment to the space of transportation.
Without even knowing it, each and every late individual is providing you with a gift : they're offering you a moment outside of time. It's up to us to, rather than filling ourselves up with what we don't have, to consider that this absence is freedom. During urban inhabitants' sequenced days, lateness is a gift of time.