Sorry, but something’s come up

Are people less punctual now than they were twenty or thirty years ago?

When I was a teenager in the 80s, my friends and I would arrange to meet at, say, 11am in front of such and such place and at 11am we’d be there, often arriving at the same time, on our bicycles. If we were late it’d be only by a few minutes, never more than five.

I’m paranoid about being late even now, and would much rather be very early than keep someone waiting even ten minutes. However, I notice that I am less punctual than I used to be and I know that it’s because I end up waiting for people so often that it’s a case of self preservation to show up late myself.   

Not only are people quite careless about being on time for appointments, they also think nothing of cancelling at the last minute. Mobile phones make it easy to send a message at the eleventh hour, saying, ‘Something’s come up! Have to take a raincheck.’

I suspect that, in the past, before mobile phones, things tended to ‘come up’ a lot less than they seem to now. These days, it’s as if a mere change of mood can result in a cancellation. Or perhaps, a better offer is what ‘comes up’ most of the time.

For example, you’ve promised to meet Friend X for coffee at four. At two, Friend Y calls and says that she has an extra ticket to the new Star Wars movie. You think nothing of cancelling your coffee date with X, or postponing it. After all, you can have coffee anytime, right?

The thing is, while you’ve replaced one activity with another, you haven’t thought about what X will do now that you’ve cancelled on her. She now has an empty slot in her schedule and this was a slot that she had reserved to spend time with you. Sure, she could probably fill it easily, with some other activity – nap, read a book, rearrange her sock drawer, build a spaceship – and you were probably polite, asking her if she minded meeting another day, to which she said ‘No problem, let me know’. However, should you have cancelled in the first place?

If you car breaks down en route; if you have an emergency at home, or one that requires you to go back to the office, then cancelling is unavoidable, but in my opinion, you just don’t cancel because something/someone better/more interesting/more profitable has come up, or you realise that HBO is screening your fave rom-com at the exact time of your appointment.

Oversleeping, forgetting and double-booking are also pretty shabby reasons for having to cancel on a friend. On one hand it shows that you suck totally at life. On the other hand, it shows that you suck at being a friend.

I know someone (A) who was recently asked by a friend (B) to extend her stay in KL (she’s from Penang) by one night so that she (A) and the said friend (B) could have brunch the next day. Well, A extended her stay only to be informed by B that her boyfriend had booked a hotel room that night, but she would nevertheless ‘try’ to make it for brunch the next morning.


 ‘Try to make it’? To me, B’s behaviour was rude and inconsiderate, and if she were my friend I would drop her like a hot brick.

If I ever did the same to anyone, they would be perfectly entitled to bitch slap me silly. The thing is, when such things happen, we tend not to confront the person who’s treated us in such a shitty way. Although people should really know when they’re being arseholes, many are totally oblivious of it. So you have people who behave like jerks and know full well that they suck, but carry on being fuckwits because they’ve never had to bear to consequences of their shitty actions; and there are people who have been raised by cockroaches and have no idea how to act. Either way, they should be kicked in the shins and told, in no uncertain terms, that what they’ve done is unacceptable and they must not do it again, on pain of death.

I don’t know. I say this, but I often just hide my irritation and then rant in private. Or now, here.

Well, in any case, this is a reminder, to myself, to say or do something when treated shabbily. And not just here.






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