The Hairpin has raised an important question for debate: is it worse to be late or to be the kind of person who insists that other people’s lateness is a reflection upon their moral turpitude? The answers were surprising!

I had no idea so many people felt so strongly about the concept of punctuality, so I conducted a highly informal poll of the people who happened to be on Gchat at the time. For what it’s worth, there seemed to be about an even split of people self-identifying as “often late but trying to get better” and “always on time.” Most of their answers seemed to fall into one of three camps:

A: Time exists as a discrete series of points that make up our Courtesy System; every living person has a limited number of points that they can give or take away from others in any given social situation. If you are late to an agreed-upon event, you are taking my points away. This is an insult that I take personally, whether this happens in a social or a business setting.

B. Time is a big, disgusting pool we are all swimming in. “Not letting you drown in it” is a sufficient measure of respect. Everyone’s doing their best to get everywhere they have to be. Get here when you get here.

C. Timeliness is a force that exists outside of the human will, like gravity. When you leave your house, you implicitly cede your control over what befalls you to the Universe. You can no more determine in advance how long it will take you to travel from your house to the agreed-upon destination than you could announce to your friends and family exactly when you plan to achieve self-actualization. There is an infinite number of possible futures. Time is something that happens to you, not something you can arrange to use in advance.

Which one are you? This is the most important question you will answer all year, so think carefully. Watch this first; this might help.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]