On the 26th of March 1993, I learned a valuable lesson about punctuality. Viv Martella, a DC at Sun Hill, missed a briefing. Later that day, she approached a van to ask it to move out of the way, and got shot by the wobbers sat inside – the target of the op that was the subject of the briefing. DI Burnside was not sympathetic.
We shouldn’t get our training from the media as a rule, but this one is, for reasons I can’t fathom, quite memorable. I haven’t watched The Bill for decades. But if she’d been punctual, she’d still be alive.
Punctuality. We work(ed) in a disciplined service. Yet more and more I saw tardiness excused by supervisors who wanted to be ‘nice’ rather than ‘supervisory’. Of course, occasional lateness can be caused by genuine circumstance – the motorway along which so many of my colleagues travel is prone to traffic-jam causing RTCs. But the colleague whose specific 10-minutes lateness every day had a time named after him – “Dodge-past-9”. Every day, without fail – exactly 10 minutes late.
“It’s no big deal,” you suggest. Merely 10 minutes. Ten minutes after the target passes the stinger? Ten minutes after the Judge cites you for contempt? Ten minutes after the details of the blagger’s van is circulated? Ask Viv.
Jack Canfield, author of ‘The Success Principles’ learned early on from his mentors that ‘If you’re not early, you’re late’. I take that view. Experience tells me that if/when I am early, I get the best seats, the shortest queue, the fastest getaway, the greater opportunities. And what I don’t get is stressed, disciplined, or the last pie.
Sometimes I overdo it, but I plan it that way. This morning I’m leaving for a race circuit so that I can arrive at least 90 minutes before I can play on it. I avoid traffic jams and I allow time to be properly prepared both vehicularly* and mentally. And I get to watch other petrolheads make mistakes from which I can learn.
But perhaps above all, being punctual is a demonstration of respect for those involved, who have an interest in your being on time. When someone is late for you, how do you feel? Let down? Inconvenienced? Angry? And if a loved one is late, do you worry?
If you are going to be late, call and explain why. Tell the truth.
But ideally, plan your life so that you are early.
Be like Jack.
Not Viv. Viv was late, and now she’s late. Permanently.
*Is a word.