Don’t Waste My Time

August 16th, 2017

I am so very annoyed – and this is nothing new. I remember a gentleman named Anthony Gomes, a businessman who used to write a newspaper column, often vented about this matter of “Jamaica time.” Since then (years ago now) not much has changed.

Why do Jamaicans waste each other’s time? Is it a lack of “broughtupcy” or simply a habit? For me, it is sheer bad manners.

I went to a breakfast meeting this morning. The start time was 7:30 and I was there at 7:30 (this was a struggle, actually; I am not a “morning person!”) There were three other people in the room and clearly the organisers were expecting around 20 or 25. I sat down, had a much-needed cup of coffee and then for various reasons at 7:50 I had to leave. The event seemed to be nowhere near starting, because the room was still only about one quarter full. The organisers were hovering near the door, looking out for people. I felt sorry for them – it was not their fault. Everything was ready and all beautifully set up. There was a weighty agenda to get through. But most of the invitees were “no shows.”

I think the reason why people organise breakfast meetings is to save time. The invitees can have breakfast, discuss whatever is on the agenda, and then get on to work at a reasonable hour. This makes sense to me, and shows consideration for other people’s schedules; but I have rarely attended a breakfast meeting that started on time. Not for lack of preparedness by the organisers, I must add. The organisers are paying out big bucks for a nice breakfast in a nice venue. These breakfast meetings start late because they are waiting for their guests to show up. When they do, the hosts have to scramble through a curtailed agenda, trying to get through everything. Those who did arrive on time have to put up with all of this. Of course, the value of their time is not taken into account, either.

By coincidence, a Facebook friend of mine posted this morning that she arrived on time for her doctor’s appointment today, only to find that the doctor had not arrived yet. This is a common occurrence, and very often no apology is proffered by the doctor when he or she sails in, to find his/her waiting room filled with people. Yes, we know doctors are busy people; but their patients are busy too, and have better things to do in the morning than stare at a television set perched on the wall for an hour or so. Once when my husband complained about this situation, asking for an apology for the lateness, the doctor looked affronted and simply said, “Well, I have to pick up my child from school.” So?

Of course, the patients are actually paying this doctor, who cannot arrive on time for their appointments. They have to go out to work and earn money to pay the doctor; they may have had to take time off work to go and see him/her. But that is of no consequence to these doctors, who suit themselves. I encountered the same situation with a former dentist, who was always “on her way” to the office, while we were sitting there like mugs. The last time I visited her surgery, I walked out before she arrived…and never returned. I now have a dentist who is more expensive, but never keeps me waiting more than five minutes. I also have a lovely doctor, who always apologies profusely if he is ten minutes late. These are perhaps rare…

This is not only a matter of disrespect, however. We all know the expression “time is money.” How can we be productive if we have to waste so much time in doctor’s offices, in government offices, in banks? Oh yes – banks know how to waste people’s time! There is one insurance company’s office I know that I call “The Sleepy Place.” It has a fairly large waiting area, where at any given time you can find one or two people asleep. They have been waiting so long they are taking the opportunity to catch up on some shut-eye. Might as well. Somehow, we expect long waits in government offices; it’s par for the course. But how can private sector entities that are offering a service be taken seriously if they keep their customers waiting for so long, without so much as an apology?

The thing is, people who waste other people’s time are wasting their own time, too. But that’s not my problem.

Just get your act together, please! This is the 21st century…





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6 Responses to “Don’t Waste My Time”

  1. Onlooker876 says:

    I TOTALLY AGREE! I’m always annoyed that many of the customer care areas in banks and utility companies seem to relish scores of customers sitting on chairs in front of them or standing in long lines. POOR! They have no respect for the customers’ time or any notion that customer care personnel should aim to move their customers along as fast as possible. It’s virtually impossible to do any customer care inquiry/business in under one-hour. Not to digress, but when you finally get to the front of the line many customer care reps are rude and unpleasant, with no notion of what customer care is all about.

  2. EmmaLewis says:

    The poor customer service is another issue – but actually, it is a part of the culture of expecting people to sit down and wait. I hate being told to “sit down”!

  3. Gg says:

    I know you said don’t blame the organizers, but what if those of us who are early actually insisted they begin on time, irrespective of the numbers. After all, it is not a wedding. Those who are coming late do not constitute the bride, the groom or even the marriage officer. Instead of waiting an hour or more after the scheduled time to begin and then rush through the agenda to the disadvantage of the audience, why not simply start on time.

  4. EmmaLewis says:

    Yes – actually I think that is probably the best approach. Just start on time, and all those who come late will be embarrassed at showing up in the middle of a speech or presentation! Actually I have seen that happen a few times, and it works!

  5. Gene b says:

    Plain and simple disrespect for themselves and everyone. I do not go any where late. This respect must be cultivated early, I have grand son who has this dirty habit and he learns the hard way ,when I leave his as-.when you have flight departing at 5.05pm try and get on at 5.15pm.discipline and. self respect

  6. EmmaLewis says:

    Yes! You are right, it is definitely about self-respect, too. And starting early. It’s so easy for young people to slip into these habits…