Home > Coping, Life in general, Power of Action, prioritizing, stress, Values > Dealing with the “Culture of Time Neglect”

Dealing with the “Culture of Time Neglect”

wait-wallpaperThe other day, my daughter accused me of being the most impatient person she had ever known. I laughed, but later on contemplated her remark. There’s a kernel of truth in what she said. On several occasions, we’d be out together to get things done. We’d take appointments for different services, and when we end up having to wait, what seemed endlessly, I get up and excuse ourselves to leave. She would be so surprised and embarrassed, but to me, the idea of an appointment needs to serve both parties well. And yes, maybe I am impatient to wait too long past my allotted schedule, but patience is relative to my agenda. At times, I could be very tolerant (e.g. my personal goals), but I don’t appreciate others stealing my time. I would rather offer it willingly rather than be coerced into the “culture of time neglect”.

 Yes, we are living in a culture where only a few are time efficient, wise, or are respectful of others’ time. I find myself organizing my life in a structured and systemic way to meet my daily targets. Being time lax has been woven into the fabric of my society. The trend observed is that of “Les homes chic sont toujours en retarde” (excuse my French). Arriving in late to social gathering became deliberate to reflect an image of being in high demand. I am not denying that sometimes we can truly be held back by emerging circumstances, but to adopt it as a life-style irritates me. Sadly, lateness is stretching to various professions and services to reflect some prestige. From repairmen, to bank clerks, to doctors, I feel constantly bombarded with messages that providing the service can wait; they are very busy people; I will have to wait. The truth is: I am as busy (if not more) and time is a precious scarce resource. My conception of time resonates so much with the words of Harvey Mc Kay Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back”.

 I can’t help but feel incongruent with those who take my time so lightly. But what can I do? Such mentality is all over the place. I take a firm standing when I can; yet, it’s beyond my capacity to change the whole world. Whenever the situation permits, at least I make a point and reproach that my time is not being respected. Until things change (and they will), I find myself trying to fit in or accommodate to the culture of time neglect. I can’t always retaliate, so I tolerate by being mentally and physically prepared for the “expected wait”. I became always equipped with a contingency plan for labile scheduling. My purse always includes a planner with ample free pages to scribble on; and a small sized interesting book to read in when there’s no way out but to comply and hang in there. I can say mantra, or engage in my deep breathing exercise. I reassume control by choosing to soothe myself that even that time waiting is still mine. I can spend it by being frustrated, or decide to use it as wisely and productively as I can 🙂

 All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that” (Baltasar Gracian).

  1. November 9, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Hi Coach… have to agree to this cultural slack that we seem to harbor… yet I have been discussing this with a “coachee/friend” of mine lately, and to my interest a third perspective emerged between full time “control” and total “surrender”… she suggested “allowing” and to tell you the truth I was shocked as she is the opposite of that “what you described above will sound quite mild ;)”… she came back to me the following week with a shocking revelation, she said it made her feel “weak” a bit allowing things to happen, yet she started “SLEEPING” better (mind you she always had major sleep problems that got complicated lately)… made me wonder really how much energy do we spend worrying about cramming our lifes the way we do in the name of “efficiency” and “time management”!… I have decided to take her lead this weak… and allow! what do you think 🙂


    • dddania
      November 9, 2009 at 5:17 pm


      How wonderful to hear from you again. “Allowing”…hmmmmmmmm. Thinking about it, eventually, that is what I end up doing in many instances. Sometimes, I feel I’m at the mercy of others giving me some of their time. When I have no alternative, it’s just what I end up doing 😉 It still bothers me to have to constantly expect being put on hold 😦
      I like what you said about “worrying about cramming our lifes the way we do in the name of “efficiency” and “time management”!… ” hehehe …. That’s so very true… I need to take it easy. Thanks for the reminder 🙂 Might as well try “allowing” more often 🙂


  2. November 10, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Interesting topic. It is a very common thing in Lebanon (sadly) that people come in late to every appointment or make you wait.
    People usually come in late due to an “emergency” or “other business”, I do not think these are valid reasons, if the meeting has been planned before hand or so, there should be time allocated to that emergency, although I agree that a major emergency that involve events we cannot control and that we cannot recover from in the next 30 minutes is something valid, however most emergencies are usually “traffic jam” or “other businesses” usually these can be accounted for by planning to be there before time. Say a meeting is at 4, and you know you need 10 minutes to get there, begin moving 3:30 or 3:20 just in case something happens, that is usually a rule of thumb, to be able to recover from such “emergencies”. Usually a 10 minutes lateness is tolerable, and arriving earlier is better, to cool down and get ready.
    The other problem could be that one get caught up with more work or is “busy” (assuming that this isn’t the actual snobbish way of showing off). In this case, do not schedule an appointment you will miss, for instance if one knows he/she will be caught with work, then in the first place do not schedule or schedule later. If an appointment has been made at a certain time, then everything will have to wait till after the appointment.
    But then again most probably, this is just late for showing that they have been late, the common perception is that as you mentioned is that they’d look like highly important people but than again we should change this perception to highly disrespectful people and it would work.
    What we can do at the very moment if we are at the receiving end, is to just bare with it, or decide to totally ignore the one we are waiting for.

    As for me, I always have my phone and earphones so that I can catch up with lost time, however the phone battery doesn’t last more than 3 hours with music… so that is a bit of inconvenience most of the time.

    PS: Your starting too use lots of quotes in your posts, that is somewhat familiar :p


    • dddania
      November 11, 2009 at 4:31 am

      Heyy Tony!!! thanks for dropping by and sharing your insights and suggestions. I totally agree. It’s going to be tough to face that “lateness”, but I am trying as much as I can to draw “late comer’s ” attention about respecting my time. Looks like people need to be enducated into “the culture of Time respect”:) Hard; but doable; especially if the message is repeated by multiple sources 🙂 so, help me out there 🙂
      About inserting the quotes, I love quotes. They do add flavor to the writing. They remind me of many people I admire, so why not model behavior I like 😉


  3. Maggieak
    November 11, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Hi, I applaud you. Finally someone who agrees with me. Nothing infuriates me more than the lack of respect i have to endure since i moved back to Lebanon four years ago. It’s a lack of respect to one another. Time is precious. I find myself constantly waiting for appointments. It drives me crazy.


    • dddania
      November 11, 2009 at 4:37 pm

      Many others agree with us too Maggie 🙂
      You know, no matter how hard I try to reframe it (I am exrecising my patience), it still doesn’t feel right. I’ve lived in Lebanon practically most of my life (not just the lasr four years), but I still find “the waiting” so hard. I keep wondering whether things will change (Others or myself) 🙂


  4. Rain
    December 19, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Lol I can’t agree more with you 😛
    My classmate yesterday had an interview for a new work, and at the same time in univ we had an exam, so she had to drop her exam to go to the interview, and 15 mins away from her interview place they called her, saying they are sorry the person interviewing her is so busy today and she has to wait to have another appointment.
    I think it is the most disrespectful thing a person can do… you mentioned doctors, I was always furious about doctors, because rarely I saw a doctor who came on the specific time we agreed on, mum replies that the doctor is always busy and I should know that.
    I always come 5 mins at least before my time so I won’t be late.
    And I always have a book with me or a note book to make notes, I am spending lots of the time nowadays in transportation ( services ) so I read, I used to do that when I was in school after each class, but not to waste time, I was just too curious to read and I couldn’t stop 😛


    • dddania
      December 19, 2009 at 9:04 pm

      I guess we’re coping with having to “wait” the best we can sugar. I am sorry about your friend not sitting for her exam 😦 if only others are more appreciative of our time, the world would have been a better place….


  5. Mireillee Hammal
    January 2, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I totallyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Agreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee !!!!
    U’re so right about it… Unfortunately we do live in a country where people do not know appreciate the time.. they keep nagging time is passing so fast and at the same moment they keep saying we feel bored we don’t know what to do and at the same time they never arrive on time to any appointment or feel able to fix a sharp appointment always 5h 5h30.. 5 to 10 min today or tomorrow…..
    Thank you Dania… 🙂 !!


    • dddania
      January 2, 2011 at 7:36 pm

      yeaaaah Mireille 🙂 The typical Lebanese timing is an hour lapse ( maybe 10 or 11). It really is funny 🙂 I’ve written this post a long time ago & still feel that things hardly change despite my constant efforts 😦 In the end, I always feel that my time is stolen away and can’t but accept & expect that this will remain the case 😦
      distressing ha??
      Thanks for our comment habeebee 🙂 🙂


  1. January 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm

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