Are you incensed when people come late for an appointment? I would say most of us are but are you doing anything about it ? This is a topic that had beaten black and blue in this part of the world and those of us who come here are shocked by the people’s strict adherence to punctuality but the question is – is punctuality valued or that important from where we came from, in other parts of the world ? This article explains the concept of timeliness in other parts of the world and for the most part, punctuality does appears to be related to culture.

Some countries expect punctuality to be part and parcel of a person’s character. Arriving late is an insult to the person you had made an appointment with. Now what if the person who is late is a customer wanting to buy something from you – would you chastise him for being late? or would you offer him a cup of coffee and say – no worries, take your time πŸ™‚

If I have made an appointment with you, I owe you punctuality, I have no right to throw away your time, if I do my own.

Richard Cecil

I might add- not necessarily with a customer, Mr. CecilΒ  πŸ˜‰ Punctuality does speaks of a person’s discipline and commitment. Many countries in the west have punctuality ingrained in their people’s habit. Time is gold and proper use of time is essential.

I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.

Charles Dickens

The article likewise says :

”Some countries consider you to be on time if you arrive less than a half-hour late. Such relatively punctual countries include Norway, Austria, Belgium, France, and much of Asia”.

“Countries that practice moderate punctuality allow someone to arrive an hour late. These include Spain, Portugal, Italy, and most of Latin America”.

“And then there are the nations of the Middle East and Africa, where punctuality is not traditionally valued. In such places, people could show up hours late (or not at all) without conveying an insult.”

A buddy of mine went to Argentina, to a city 2 hours south of Buenos Aires to meet up with a girl he met at the internet ( he’s not crazy but to travel 7 hours with no assurance of anything is weird). Short end of the story is – it was a total waste of time and money. He came back empty handed. The only consolation was he had a camera to take great photos. He told me later on that the punctuality of the folks down there is worse than Pinoys. People come 2 hours late offering no excuses whatsoever. Well, as the article says, if punctuality isn’t valued in the Middle East and Africa, we’re not that bad are we? Besides, are punctual people just so uptight and not taking things easy? πŸ˜†

Punctuality is the virtue of the bored.

Evelyn Waugh

Well said ! Here’s a high-five for you Ms. Waugh πŸ™‚ I am not going to elaborate much on the Pinoy’s score on punctuality – we know how low it is hehe πŸ˜› We often blame the pathetic traffic situation in Manila if we come late for an appointment. Because of the unpredictability of traffic it no one will argue that it “can be” a factor. Sitting idle for an hour waiting for people to arrive is no easy task believe me 😦

Punctuality is one of the cardinal business virtues: always insist on it in your subordinates.

Don Marquis

Duh, no sense really . If the boss ain’t coming because of the frigging traffic jam or what not, why expect the subordinates to come on time ? I might add, ” on yourself and your subordinates” , Mr. Marquis πŸ˜‰

Ah, punctuality. Could it be a barometer of something ?


26 Responses

  1. First time to comment here. First, congrats on a such a great write-up and blog.

    It is remarkable that the poorest regions in the world (Africa) places the lowest premium on punctuality. Punctuality could be a barometer of a people’s level of political and economic development.

  2. I hate people who don’t care if they’re late 😦 like I know I am not perfect either but I don’t get late for hours or don’t show up at all but at least I call and let people know. Oh well, some people just don’t get it I guess 😦

  3. Panaderos – I am surprised too about Africa. It does sound odd when people take punctuality for granted.

    Thanks very much for dropping by. πŸ™‚

  4. Irrealis – things have improved much better with the advent of the cell phone I think. It’s now pretty easy to inform people if you’re coming late πŸ™‚

  5. I consider myself a punctual person, up to the point of being uptight about it. It’s one of the reason why I set my watch fifteen minutes in advance, I hate being late. Hence, I get really really pissed when people come in late for a meeting without proper explanation, or have the decency to call informing us of the delay…

  6. I hate being late for appointments. But in Pinas, there are many reasons why one person arrives late. In most cases, I arrive on time. If I’m late, it’s usually for 15 minutes max unless something major happens. And If I know I’ll be late, I always tell the other person in advance.

  7. Sngl – so you’re uptight about it ? hehe πŸ™‚ I would be uptight when it comes to business meetings but for personal, I’m a little tolerant. Funny we Pinoys have a habit of being late but we demand planes and trains to leave on time !

  8. Abaniko – like me, I’m never perfect and show up a few minutes late for appointments – there’s just too many factors to cause your lateness, like the weather here during winter.

    For Pinoy parties though, no one really comes on time. We all know by now that if we say 6pm it will be 7pm LOL πŸ™‚ It’s really cool to be Pinoy hehe πŸ™‚

  9. Sabi nga ng mga sexually active teenagers…”Better late than pregnant!”..

  10. Noypetes – late is better πŸ˜‰ no wonder why the average marrying age of women here is 33 hehe πŸ™‚

  11. Hi BW,

    Thank you very much for visiting my blog. I hope you won’t mind if I link to your site. I enjoy reading your write-ups. Thanks.

  12. A punctual person honors his word. Lateness is an insult.

  13. I think if it’s business-related like a job interview or meeting a client, then its important to be punctual. AS they say, time is money. IN social situations like parties, i think it’s ok to be late, or fashionably late as they say. hehe

  14. I’ve always valued punctuinality, especially when it means business. But sometimes I also make room for people as well. I read somewhere that there’s an island where people are always late but are living well together. hehe

  15. Panaderos – thanks. I’ve linked you up already πŸ™‚

  16. Sam – agree but to the point of not getting too uptight about it. I leave a little room for friends πŸ™‚

  17. Wil – have to agree with you on fashionable lateness esp with Pinoy gatherings πŸ™‚ Sometimes it is not by design – my wife takes more than an hour to fix herself, if lucky. I only take 10 mins, bathing included hehe πŸ™‚

  18. Ferdz – punctuality business is an absolute must. Sometimes folks coming to my office for a meeting arrive 20 mins early and it can be quite irritating πŸ™‚

    People in that island aren’t uptight – I love to live there hehe :mrgreen:

  19. Hey bro…Bacolod is pretty much the same! hehe Happy New Year.

    Anyway…for business meetings I always see to it that I am on time. For social meetings…I have this habit of being in the area early but I don’t go to the meeting place immediately or on time. I intentionally make myself late for like 10 or 15 minutes or sometimes I would text my friends and ask who’s there already and if they say it’s just her or him or just the two of them, I wouldn’t show myself just yet hehe I don’t know why I’m doing it. I just don’t want to be the very first one to arrive.

  20. i’m punctual and prefer other people who are the same. that’s one reason why i love to travel with people who’re on time so i can explre more…

    in business it’s a must where time of other shouldn’t be wasted

  21. Verns – happy new year to you too πŸ˜›

    You’re into fashionable lateness too with friends eh? So am I πŸ™‚ Pinoys have that notion that if they are being invited, it’s kinda embarrassing to arrive first 😯

  22. Tutubi – I have friends who are terribly punctual, esp the old school guys πŸ™‚ I agree it is great to be with them when you are on a trip – in my case normally a fishing trip. You get right down to business without dilly-dallying πŸ™‚

  23. whoah, i thought pinoys were on top of the list. what a relief that we’re not alone doing this awful practice. wish we could somehow change this. cause i for one have heard comments like “oww you’re right on the dot. are you not running on philippine standard time?” or “why so early, did you guys adjust your time in manila?” and i somehow consider that a slap to brown face. at that time, i wanted to choke the living daylight of that guy who said that (same person). but then again, i can’t blame him. he must have a horrible experience with people on flip time. hahahah πŸ˜€

  24. Nell – isn’t it nice to know that we’re not the worst? Over a period of time I have learned to save my face in learning to be punctual, esp with business commitments πŸ™‚

    Except – if I am with my wife, we never make it on time anywhere. I can never remember a time when we arrived at a church service on time , duh 😦

  25. Thank you,
    very interesting article

  26. This all reminds me of some reading from my college anthropology concerning a part of the world you didn’t yet address: Java/Indonesia. There it was completely normal even for official events (say a town council meting) not to begin until three or more hours after the announced time.

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