Home Opinion and Features My favourite tea … ‘punctuali-tea’

My favourite tea … ‘punctuali-tea’


How many organisations, businesses, or even municipalities and governments are being held back by some individuals who feel they are far too important to be punctual?

Waiting around in a crowd can be pretty frustrating. Picture: Eak K. from Pixabay

WITNESSING a cyclist struggling with the wind can evoke emotions of either mirth, sympathy or envy … I say envy because to be out in the open air on a bicycle, even if the wind is huffing is better than sitting in a motor vehicle, and much better than sitting at a desk.

However, when I saw a cyclist struggling with the wind recently, I can swear that I felt flabbergasted, more than envious, amused or sympathetic.

There I was driving along in my motorised transport and this two-wheeled warrior was at the traffic light – cycling shorts, helmet, the proper spectacles, and cleats. None of the equipment was new either, which means that this oke was a seasoned cyclist.

But there he was, standing at the traffic light, struggling with the wind … yes, standing and struggling. You see, this young gentleman was struggling to light his cigarette and the wind was rather puffy on this particular day.

I scratched my head; wasn’t it defeating the purpose of being out in the open air, exerting oneself, getting a good dose of fresh air, only to fog it all up with clouds of tobacco being drawn into the lungs?

I mean, correct me if I am wrong, but I always believed that one’s forward momentum is hampered if damaging habits are retained. Sure, this bloke was much fitter than I am, but if he doesn’t kick the habit, he’ll never be as fit as he potentially could be.

I mean, for example, that’s like an organisation having all the qualified and skilled staff it needs, regular briefings, report-back meetings, training and more – everything needed to thrive, but most workers are not pulling their weight, arriving late to meetings and falling asleep during briefings and training sessions.

If that seems far-fetched, I have news; a friend told me that this is exactly what happened during an important meeting that would impact service delivery in the province where he works. Five minutes into the vital meeting, one of the senior staff had nodded off and was sawing logs at the boardroom table.

It’s so discouraging.

Another acquaintance was spitting mad recently when he too was supposed to be at a meeting, and another group of bigwigs eventually pitched up an hour late. Laughing and joking they blamed the traffic, and carried on as if it was OK. But just imagine what could have been accomplished in that lost hour! Besides, this person who was punctual and had been waiting for an hour, only had so many hours in his day, and had a few other meetings to attend, so losing an hour was costing him big time.

Author Gbenga Adebambo nails it when he writes: “Anybody that wastes your time has succeeded in wasting a chunk of your life.”

I read an opinion piece by Mr Adebambo, where he comes out swinging against the culture called ‘African time’.

Adebambo writes, “There is a culture of impunity that is ravaging the African nations called ‘African Time.’ This is an attitudinal and unapologetic disregard for other people’s time. It is probably only in Africa and Nigeria that people come an hour late for a programme or meeting and still expect others to welcome them …”

Errr … Mr. Adebambo … for the record, it’s not only in Nigeria.

How many organisations, businesses, or even municipalities and governments are being held back by some individuals who feel they are far too important to be punctual?

By the way, when was the last time you heard of a public event that actually got under way at the scheduled time? Masses frequently wait in the baking Northern Cape sun for hours before a government bigwig arrives.

It’s also interesting that Adebambo suggests that “… the degree of lateness is often directly proportional to the perceived self-importance of the personage in question”. In other words, it’s those who can afford expensive timepieces that seem not to use them.

But think of the downside of learning who’s boss of the clock; let’s take government as an example. First of all, when government officials are tardy, it can lead to a loss of productivity as tasks and projects get delayed. This can result in missed deadlines and backlogs which can have a negative impact on the country’s economic growth.

Secondly, ‘fat cat’ tardiness can erode confidence in the government. This can tarnish a country’s reputation and its ability to attract investment from international organisations.

But here’s the scary part: Researchers have totalled up the figures in Ecuador, a South American nation. Apparently, in Ecuador, more than 50 percent of all public events start late.

Ecaudorians must be as frustrated as South Africans, I imagine. But more than mere frustration, it was found that chronic tardiness, on average, has been costing Ecuador close to R500 billion annually – this according to one set of data. Now sit there for a moment and try to think what a country like that could do with an extra R500 billion ($2.5 billion) in their coffers.

I would be morbidly interested to know how much money is leaking out of South African coffers due to overly important people arriving ‘fashionably late’. That would be interesting.

But I won’t wait for those figures … After all, I am paid to do a job, and so I have work to do.

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