Today I overslept. Actually, I don’t really think over-sleeping is possible. My body just felt like it needed the extra hour and half of sleep uninterrupted by a buzzing device that I forgot to set. So, more accurately, I was an hour late to work this morning. No worries. No one was here to see me walk in late because the other person that was supposed to be here at that time, was, quite interestingly, late also. Maybe they forgot to set the alarm too. I didn’t ask, as I would have expected of them, had they been here when I walked in late.
Getting up late always traumatizes me for some reason. I jump up out of bed knowing I’ve slept too long. The light is streaming through the window, and it shouldn’t be if I’m awake at the right time. I try to remember shutting off the alarm. When did I do it? Did I forget to set the damn thing last night? But nothing comes. I start going through a panic attack, screaming out thinks like, “Shit, I’m going to be late.” Which is, in its own way, stupid, because I am already late. Late getting up.
The rest of the day is just screwed up when you get up late, when you over-sleep. You forget your cell phone on the kitchen counter for example. You feel out of sorts, like something is missing, you’ve forgotten something. No time for breakfast or even that first cup of coffee before heading out into the joy of morning traffic. The sun seems brighter this morning.
When I was a manager, I had a subordinate, a single mom, that was exactly 10 minutes late for work every day. She was up for promotion several times, but was always passed over because being late was on her personnel record. It was company policy to report it, which, being a “good” manager that followed all the rules, I did, most of the time. So we had a discussion after her last rejection, and I agreed to officially change her work schedule to 8:15 to 5:15, thereby eliminating my requirement to show her as tardy.
The first day of the new schedule change, she was exactly 10 minutes late. And the next day and the next. We talked again at the end of the week and agreed to a further schedule change. Her new starting time was 8:30. The following Monday she showed up at 8:40. I’m not making this up. (I know I say that a lot, but sometimes you just can’t make this shit up.)
I have no idea why she was always 10 minutes late every day regardless of her start time, and she didn’t know either. Seriously. She was very upset about it and didn’t have a clear answer. Somehow that mental clock in her head is off by ten minutes. You know, when you estimate how long it will take you get somewhere or do something, and you figure it with a little extra time to spare, she didn’t do that. Her internal clock was just broken, or at least exactly 10 minutes slow.
I found it pretty shocking to discover that U.S. businesses lose more than $3 billion each year in lost productivity due to tardiness. Being late 10 minutes a day translates into an extra week of paid vacation a year. But the really impact may be how the late employee impacts others in the workplace. Waiting in a board meeting for them to show, or waiting for them to boot a program on the computer you need, or a task they have to complete before you can start work. Things like that. These employees are looked on by their peers as problems, lowering morale, and increasing conflict. “Why should they be allowed to get away with it?” “Why are they better than me? I get to work on time every day.” As if that somehow translates into work related skill. Being on time doesn’t make you smarter.
The first place I worked full-time after dropping out of college, had a rule that you had to be at work 10 minutes before your shift started. It was in the company policy manual. I always managed to do it, and since it started at a young age, its kind of stayed with me over the years. I’m always at least 10 minutes early for everything, but more likely 30 minutes early, because I HATE being late.