Thursday, August 25, 2005

Keeping time

When I first started work here, I was always late, almost invariably for meetings. Until one day someone made some snide comment about African time. It was one of those -you know the type- Englishmen who have lived in "Africa" and know all about "Africa" and life there. When he joked about African time, I grit my teeth and slipped into my chair and that day vowed never again to be late for a meeting. And I haven't done too badly. Even though it meant that I permanently set my watch fifteen minutes fast. I know, I know it's weird but it works for me even though I know I set it ahead myself.

Anyway these days I find myself exasperated when people turn up late for meetings or appointments. And right now I'm pissed at someone who's just done that. I wrote him asking for a meeting (work stuff) and gave him a whole raft of dates to pick from. Two weeks later he replied saying he could do only one particular day- today as he was going away on holiday thereafter. So I cancel/shift my other appointments (this meeting is really important- like the rate-limiting step on the project on which I'm working at the moment) and pencil him in for today. Ten minutes after our agreed time he's nowhere to be seen. Now, even I have learnt that if you're running late, it's acceptable to ring and say so, so I ask my secretary if he's called. No way. I phone reception, no way. Should I ring him? Is it acceptable by English standards? I don't want it to seem like I'm hounding him. Anyway I ring him and he says "Oooh something came up! " Then he says he can't meet today and not any other day till three weeks time. I am so exasperated it must have wafted down the phone line, so now he agrees to meet later today.....if he does turn up!!!

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