The guy was wild; truly wild. First, the encounter began with him sitting down awkwardly after being 15 minutes late. Here’s how I think of timeliness when it comes to meetings. One to three minutes early is perfect. Anything earlier than that is going in the direction of creepy. Four to ten minutes early implies to me that the person is over-zealous about whatever we’re going to talk about. If it’s a business meeting, that’s better than if it’s a personal meeting. In a personal meeting, being 10 minutes early means the person has nothing better to do, or has an over-focused expectation of what the social event will be like. There’s a term for what it means to show up appropriately late to a social event: fashionably late. In my mind, it’s never okay to be late; so, the phrase should be amended to be what is better: fashionably on-time; i.e. exactly at minute zero of when the meeting is supposed to start. Arriving exactly at the minute of the set meeting should be the perfect approach to arrival. It should be the goal for which we all strive. Think about it: you say, in advance, let’s meet somewhere at 7:00 PM. Then, shouldn’t getting there at 7:00 PM be the best performance of punctuality? At a minimum, shouldn’t it be acceptable? You might think so, and, for a long time, I did. But, the world is not so conveniently simple. Being exactly on-time tells me and other time-minded people that anything could have made this person late – an inconvenient traffic light, a sock the person couldn’t find behind the dryer (have I mentioned that I hate socks?), a dog running out the door as you are trying to leave – anything. That tells me that the person is reckless, and maybe lives life too much on the edge to be a safe business confidant or social friend. I have been told that I over-analyze things too much. Perhaps this little diatribe about timeliness is evidence of the justification for that accusation. But, you know what I think when I hear that charge? I think, “What, exactly, does it mean to over-analyze something?”. But, that’s probably over-analyzing it. But, for the sake of follow-through let’s complete the square, and fully comprehend what it means for every minute up-to, at and past the time you’re scheduled to meet someone. Being earlier than 10 minutes early is just simply rude in a very awkward way. It’s not often known if someone shows up that early, unless it’s to a doctor’s, dentist’s, veterinarian’s or stylist’s appointment and you are left sitting in the waiting room for the time until it’s time to meet the experienced professional. If that happens, the person behind the counter (who is one of the wisest people in the building, because he or she has seen a lot of humanity) will look at you politely like you are a valued customer, no matter when you decide to grace the office with your presence, have you sign the appropriate papers and fill out the necessary forms – even though we are now a full twenty years into the commercialized internet phase and it’s the simplest thing in the world to get an iPad or other tablet and let people sign into digital record-keeping, like an electronic medical record that is either houses on hardware in the office or, better yet, on the cloud and could travel with you wherever you happen to choose to go. But, the Health Information Technology and Public Health geek in me digresses. But, deep down – or, perhaps, not so deep-down, he or she would look at you and think “What kind of life does this person live that she or he has the time or the incentive to show up earlier than 10 minutes to this appointment? If it’s not at an appointment with a professional like a doctor, and it’s with a person of an equal or approximate ilk, and you both show up earlier than 10 minutes, then you might have just as well started the meeting 10 minutes or earlier earlier. And, then the whole game begins again. Being one or more minute or minutes late is totally inappropriate, no matter what the situation. And, this guy showed up 15 minutes later. Really, 14 minutes late.
He was coughing which told me he was probably sick, or getting sick. He could have been having allergies – it was early September, and there were many trees beginning to turn a nice Kentucky orange color. I, myself, am allergic to eight different kinds of trees and so have to have a heart for a guy that might have been experiencing some really perverse mix of allergies that typically plagues a great number of those in the Ohio valley region to which Louisville belongs. But, he was also sniffling a bit – still, a possible sign of allergies. But, the deciding factor, in my mind was that he had a generally lethargic attitude about him that I thought made it conclusive that he was experiencing some kind of transmutable virus. Again, I am a Public Health professional, so I think about these things a lot. The respectful thing to do would have been to call or text or send a message on 20Friends.com, that would have been readable on my little 20Friends.com app that I conveniently had on my phone. He should have contacted me at least six hours before the meeting and said that he was not feeling well, and suggested that we meet at another time. He would have respectfully apologized (even though being sick is not something you can usually have control over, and, therefore would not typically need to apologize for) and would have asked if I would like to reschedule (even though nothing would have changed to change the fact that I had wanted to meet with him in the first place, and it would be outright strange thinking to abruptly cancel the set of circumstances that we had going that had put us on a path to meet in the first place).