No one ever got fired for being early

I don’t like people who are late for meetings. And, it seems I’m not alone.Late

Sometimes tardiness simply can’t be avoided. And, yes, sometimes I’m late for a meeting (or two). But, I’m steamed by the people who are habitually late for everything.

We have an employee who always shows up late. Always. He’ll come sauntering in, mumble something about being stuck on a client call and then slip into an empty chair. As a result, we’ll have to recap what’s just been discussed in order to bring him up to speed. It’s rude, an insult to the rest of us and a waste of everyone’s precious time. But, in our passive-aggressive workplace culture, we never directly confront the ‘late guy.’ And that’s a ‘shame on us.’

Truth be told, though, I prefer late people to their rare, but equally annoying, early bird doppelgangers. These oddities insist on getting to airports, meetings or any other appointment way, way too early. When you do follow their advice, you just end up sitting. And sitting.

I once worked for a guy who was absolutely anal
about arriving early (he was absolutely anal about life in general, but
that’s another story). I remember traveling to Pittsburgh with him for
a client meeting. We checked into the hotel, went to dinner and said
goodnight. He told me to meet him in the lobby at 7:15 the following
morning. ‘But Jim,’ I protested. ‘The meeting’s not until 9:00 and the
client’s office is only a block away.’ He repeated the time he wanted
to meet and shuffled off to the elevator.

Sure enough we met at
7:15, arrived at the client’s office at least an hour early and sat in
the lobby reading the newspapers. About 45 minutes later, a security
guard sauntered over to tell us the client contact had called to say he
was sorry, but he’d gotten ill and wouldn’t be coming to work.

boss saw the barely suppressed outrage on my face and sniffed, ‘No one
ever got fired for being early.’ Maybe not, but what’s wrong with being
on time?

Thanks to Debrah Hussey for the idea.

8 thoughts on “No one ever got fired for being early

  1. Great stuff, Brett. Hard to believe, but I believe it nonetheless. I wish I could track down my old boss and show him that, yes indeed, some people do get fired for showing up too early.

  2. Med Guy: You’re 100% right that I should say something. But, tardiness in, and of, itself isn’t an excuse for firing someone (except, perhaps, in the wild and wacky world of medical supplies where all bets are off). This particular employee happens to be gifted. So, in the same way Willie Randolph overlooked David Wright’s poor fielding, I tend to overlook this person’s tardiness.

  3. I’ve been late for a client encounter once but luckily we were on the same subway line. I can understand about an internal meeting being pushed back by a meeting truant, especially if he is on the phone with a client.
    I can’t stand worker bees that jet exactly at the closing bell and on the other side of the fence, those that moan when someone is 10 minutes late for work. That is almost oxymoronic, but I can’t even offer a reason because I am running late…

  4. I’m the kind of guy who firmly believes in being punctual. I have a colleague who often is late and it burns the hell out of me, because we are then often late for a client meeting.
    And, I would not repeat myself in a meeting. It’s not a kid who misses school for a day. It’s up to him to find out what they missed.
    While I don’t agree on being at an office an hour ahead of time, let’s go back to the job interview. What kind of impression would you have of a candidate that showed up late. Meanwhile, you’re sitting there looking at your watch waiting for that person to come in while you could be busy doing something else.
    What irritates me more is going for a doctor’s visit at a specified time and then he’s an hour behind schedule whether it’s because he was late on his morning rounds at the hospital or whatever.
    If someone tells me a meeting starts at 9, I make sure I am there in ample time. And if they are running late, so be it. But I have too many things to do.

  5. you wanna know why that employee never comes on time- b/c you let him. by repeating what he has missed and thereby allowing him to come late, you send the message that it is ok. so apparently you don’t dislike tardiness that much- otherwise that employee would now be a former employee.