Punctuality, Vol. 13, Issue 8

"Punctuality is the politeness of kings," often attributed to Louis XVIII*, really lays out the most basic Perfect Propriety for kings and commoners. Arriving on time and prepared, whether it's for a party or a meeting, shows respect to the other participants (whose productivity may depend on one's punctuality) - and also for one's hostess's soufflé, which could be ruined for all. So Etiquetteer read with interest this article about the four habits of punctual people. It really is astonishing how many people don't allow themselves enough time to get from one place to another, allow for delays, or, new to this century, rely on a Global Positioning System that is not 100% accurate en route without checking a map first.

This story also vividly brought to mind an incident from Etiquetteer's early life in the work world, which Etiquetteer has told so often you may have heard it before. A weekly management meeting would routinely begin up to 20 minutes late in this company because managers (who perhaps just didn't want to attend the meeting anyway) couldn't remember the time. Eager Young Etiquetteer, taught courtesy at his mother's knee, was assigned to record the minutes to these meetings, and began listing in the attendance at the top those who had been tardy. Within two weeks, everyone appeared promptly and the productivity and brevity of the meetings improved. But Eager Young Etiquetteer continued to list the tardies, who would occasionally appear for one reason or another.

And then the day came for which, apparently, many people had been waiting. Eager Young Etiquetteer Himself was tardy. It happened very innocently! At lunch with a colleague at a restaurant perhaps too distant from the office, the waitress was too slow with the check, and traffic was encountered returning to the office. Eager Young Etiquetteer and the colleague rushed to the conference room, only to discover that the door was locked! There was nothing to do but knock on the door. And much merriment ensued when Shamefaced Young Etiquetteer had to mark himself down as a tardy.

And the moral is this: good punctuality, like good housekeeping, is what goes unnoticed.

*Etiquetteer somehow prefers to remember him as the Comte de Provence, the younger brother and sometime Dauphin to Louis XVI.