The Journal is an online collection of articles and essays written and curated by Thomas W Coombs, published bi-annually.

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Issue 43; Do not be the White Rabbit

One thing I find most annoying is being late.  I have been late, late to work, late home but it is a very rare occurrence, but what gives me the most amount of stress is if you say a time, move mountains to keep to that time.  It is one of the few manners I believe everyone should have.

When you say to someone, I will be at yours at 7pm, to either have cocktails or pick you up, then be there at 7pm, there is a healthy five minutes which is allowed, I call it the “automatic watch allowance”, the give or take of a few minutes, but any more then no, any earlier, what are you thinking? I would not be quite ready or still doing things, then I would feel rushed, which is a harder feeling than being late.

I am a stickler for time, maybe it is the fact I always have a watch on, or maybe this is where my love for a timepiece has come from, I usually know what the time is throughout the day, give or take a few minutes.

There is always that saying of being fashionably late, it is not fashionable, it is rude.  Parties are always a hard one to judge and can be the exception to the rule, no one wants to be first, however someone always has to be first. Try not to be first though, as you will then spend your whole time getting up and greeting everyone like you are a co host of the shindig.  Never be early of course but a few minutes late is fine, it is always nice to arrive with others you meet on a doorstep.  Never be exceptionally late to any party, when the place is in full swing and the guests have settled in and all maybe on cocktail number two and the plan was now to open a couple of magnums of wine or champagne and reveal the spread of food delights.  Then you appear apologising, giving excuses, everyone looks at you, the latecomer, throwing it all out of sync, so do your best to not be so late you become a burden for the first hour why you are there.

As party season is and has been a little less party-like the last couple of years try to remember this delightful bit of instruction the next time you are invited to someone's gathering whatever the occasion.  And always take something for your host.