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Friday, May 31, 2013



Why are some people always late?  Psychologists have tried to answer this question.  Some say it is a function of ADD and the person can only concentrate when he is under the gun.  Some say certain people enjoy the adrenaline rush of cutting it close.  I have always been late, late to school, late to work, late to everything. 

People who are late are viewed as being disrespectful.  I can’t respect those people.  People who are late are judged as not caring.  I don’t care.  Experts claim people who are chronically late believe they are better than everyone else.  I think that is ridiculous…I am better than that.

Seriously, I have always been late.  I don’t know why.  It seems there are two types of people when it comes to tardiness, those who are always five minutes early and those who are always five minutes late.  The five minutes early people are incensed by the five minutes late people.  The worst thing in the world is for a five minutes late person to work for a five minutes early person.

When I was a paper pusher for a large brokerage firm, I supervised a unit of about twenty people.  As a supervisor, I was off the clock and my occasional tardiness was not a major issue.  One of my better workers, however, was a five minutes late person every single day and his tardiness was a major issue. 

Work started at 9:00.  Everyone in my unit showed up at 8:55, went for coffee and was ready to work at 9:10.  Lou, Mr. Five-minutes-late, came to work at 9:05, sat down and started his job right away.  My boss was incensed at Lou’s tardiness and was constantly on me to change his behavior or fire him.

I did not want to fire Lou, he was a good worker, and he was a fellow five minutes late person.  I told Lou, I expected him to be at work at 8:55 and that worked for a week or two until he realized that since he was not marked late when he came in at 9:00 he could probably come in at 9:05.  My hands were tied; I was going to have to fire Lou.

Just before I had to pull the trigger on Lou’s employment, my manager approached me with a problem.  He was getting complaints that our department was not staffed to solve customer problems after 5:00.  Could I get someone to volunteer to change his hours from 9:00 to 5:00 to 9:30 to 5:30?  I had just the candidate.

I told Lou he had one more chance before I would have to let him go.  Since he had trouble getting to work by 9:00 I would allow him to come in at 9:15 and work to 5:15, but if he was ever just five minutes late he would have to stay and work till 5:30.

Lou did not come in to work one day before 9:20.   He assumed he was always five minutes late and worked till 5:30 without complaint.  I got an extra ten minutes of coverage without paying for overtime, and my boss was astounded that I was able to turn chronically late Lou into a ten minute early employee.

It takes a five minute late person to solve the problem of another five minute late person.


  1. This is truly brilliant! I loved the humor in the situation of Late Lou coming in at 9:05 and jump right into work. Meanwhile, his 'early' cohorts were still gathering around the coffee pot.

    I would have to interject that there is one other group along with the five minute earlys/five minute laters. The 'squeal in on two wheels right on time.' That would be me. Every time. The adrenaline rush is phenomenal. Sliding into my spot in a meeting and thinking, 'Yes! I made it!'


  2. Smooth move Ex Lax. That's what I call a win-win.

    I was always one of those 5-minute-early types. Hell, 10-minute-early types, but I was also realistic. If you came in a few minutes late BUT still got your job done, I would look the other way. But if you came in late and couldn't keep up, I'd go all postal on you in an instant, and everyone knew it. It was never an issue. I call that win-win, too.


  3. Just perfect. It seems rather unreasonable for the bosses to want to lose the worker if he began work upon arrival even though everyone else took their time and started their work day after he did.

  4. Good save. The real "not a team player" in this scenario is your boss. I tolerated that kind of time slippage all the years I supervised twenty people. They did their jobs, and very well. Beside, I am a five minute early person and would cover for them to the death. My boss told me, always be anywhere before the boss arrives and don't leave until the boss is gone. He had a superior, too.

  5. I'm the same type as CLR--in fact, I may be asking her for a ride!!

  6. And that kind of wisdom makes a good manger. Way to GO!

  7. I don't believe in time. It is an arbitrary creation of man used to measure stress.

  8. Great creative solution on Lou.

    I have always been, alas, a morning person. And, in conjunction, a guy who shows up early for everything. I'm always the first one to the ballpark for games. I was the first one in the office every morning. I am always afraid we will be late for functions involving MY WIFE's side of the family, and we always are, but it doesn't matter because most of them are chronically late and they don't care.

  9. You lied to him!

    My friends do this to me all the time. I have even had one Wedding invitation that had the time half an hour earlier for me than for everyone else. ;-)

  10. I'm an early bird. I used to work for the state unemployment office. The sign-in book was put away at the stroke of 8:00 a.m. was sneaked out from under the desk when the secretary's friends rolled in at 8:15. According to the books, they were never late. Don't get me started on their conversations about such pressing topics as their psychic visits the night before. I don't think they even started working until after lunch.

    Then we got a new secretary. She was friends with MY crew. We were always on time, of course. And so were the others after that. People will get away with what they can get away with.