The Value of Time

Posted on | March 20, 2013 | 9 Comments


My Grandaddy, with my sister and me.

When my Grandaddy was alive, he would tell me the story of how he ran a kitchen at a local restaurant.  One day, one of his cooks showed up thirty minutes late because his car had broken down and the man had walked ten plus miles from his house to the restaurant.  At the end of the story each time, I would cringe, wondering who my Grandfather was that he would proudly announce “And I told him to turn around and walk back home because late is late.” He was proud of sticking to his guns.  When I’d question him for not being more understanding, he’d shrug and say “He should have left thirty minutes earlier and then he would have been on time.”

The older I get, the more precious time becomes to me: my time, your time, time in general.  When I have an appointment, I am always early.  When I’m meeting someone for lunch, I’m early.  When I go anywhere, I always tack on an extra fifteen to twenty minutes for traffic, even if I’m only driving ten miles… because time is a precious thing.

Now that I’m a “professional” with appointments of my own, I’ve become increasingly aware that most people don’t feel the same way about time.  My clients will show up thirty to forty-five minutes late for appointments with no apologies.  Opposing counsels will roll in to depositions fifteen or twenty minutes after we’re supposed to start and even the judges are often late for court times.  It seems that no one understands the basic principle that my grandfather instilled in me:

My time is the most valuable gift I can give you.

When you show up late to lunch or to a meeting, you’re signalling to me that your time is more important than mine.  You’re not so subtly telling me that whatever it was that kept you in the office or on the phone in the parking lot is more important than the fifty thousand things I left unfinished on my own desk so that I could be prepared and ready for our meeting when it starts.  When you disregard your appointment time with me, you tell me that I’m not important… that I’m not valuable to you… that your time means more than mine.

And let me tell you something… we’re all of us working with too limited time as it is.

As a girl, the story my grandfather would tell me rang with injustice… sometimes things happen, sometimes people are late.  As a grown woman, I can appreciate what he was trying to teach me:

Above all else, value time and the time that others give to you.  Value that someone is giving you a portion of their day, a portion of time they could spend on anyone else, in any way.  We all have only 24 hours in each day; if I consent to meet with you for one hour of that time, that’s an hour I don’t get back.  That’s an hour I can’t spend in any other way.  That’s a piece of my life that I’m giving to you.

And you know what? My life is pretty important to me… I don’t just dole out pieces of it for fun.

So I’m teaching my child the lessons my Grandaddy taught me:  if you’re on time, you’re late; if you’re late, don’t bother showing up at all.  And I’m throwing in a third, so the compassionate girl of my youth is satisfied: If you’re going to be late, pick up the phone and give me the option of rescheduling.  My time is just as important as yours, I promise.




9 Responses to “The Value of Time”

  1. Type A Nightmare
    March 20th, 2013 @ 11:27 am

    Ooh. I cringe reading this post. You would hate, loathe, despise me IRL. I have such a hard time with timeliness. My world day begins at 8:30, which means I get here by 9. It’s awful! I try. I soooo try, and I am conscious of people who I may be effecting (so there’s a positive, right?). I calendar things for 15 minutes earlier than I tell other people to meet me (e.g. Let’s have coffee at 8:30… my calendar and my brain focus on 8:15…) I’m trying to be better, and this post will help me, but geez! I’m awful! And practicing law made me worse than I was before….

  2. Law Momma
    March 20th, 2013 @ 11:28 am

    Hahaha! Never would or could I hate you. 🙂 I’d just schedule you for thirty minutes after you told me you’d be there on my own calendar. 😉

  3. Type A Nightmare
    March 20th, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

    That would be completely perfect! Lol.

  4. MaconMom
    March 20th, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

    I’m conflicted in my thoughts about this one. 🙂
    I’m so not Type A and am okay with it. I see both sides. Yes, late is late and time is precious. But, the reality is that life does happen and there are extenuating circumstances, and I believe it’s important to be flexible. That’s why I like guidelines versus rules.
    I’m not going to live by a clock, speed or miss an opportunity because I’m rushing to make it anywhere on time.
    I would preface this by stating I believe there is a difference in being late in one’s professional life versus private life. I am on time professionally and appreciate meetings starting on time, students arriving on time, and meetings ending on time. Again, things happen and people are late. Calling is great, if you aren’t in podunk rural Georgia lost without cell service.
    Personally… my arrival time may on right on the dot, early or late.. you never know. It all depends on the day, the caffeine, the dogs, the husband, the child, and if I have gas in the bus. LOL

    I’m getting so “go with the flow” in my 40’s… it’s all good.

  5. Law Momma
    March 20th, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

    Professionally, I can’t stand it. Personally, I can handle a little more tardy though it depends on the circumstance and whether I’m on a time crunch. If it’s lunch during the week, be on time b/c I have to get back to the office. If it’s a shopping trip on a lazy Saturday? Take your time. 🙂

  6. kryptogirl
    March 23rd, 2013 @ 4:13 am

    Amen sister!! Similarly I get pissed when someone says to me “I didn’t/dont have time to do it”. We all have the same amount of time and can do with it what we will. Saying you don’t have time is just a lazy ass way of saying you have higher priorities. Which is fine, just don’t blame the time.

  7. Law Momma
    March 23rd, 2013 @ 11:37 pm

    Oooh yeah. Never thought about how wretched that saying is!!!

  8. Robbie K
    March 23rd, 2013 @ 10:36 pm

    I think it’s a professional courtesy to be on time or to reschedule etc. I struggle with time management IRL partly because I try to do way too much and miscalculate how long things take.

  9. Law Momma
    March 23rd, 2013 @ 11:38 pm

    I am so ridiculous about it. I should let up a little because I’m always stupid early to everything.

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