21 March 2006

How Do We Deal with the "Punctually-challenged?"

Jay posed the following question on the thread dealing with punctuality at Millennial Star, "I wonder what our response to the punctually challenged should be?" link to comment

That's a great question to ask, and it prompted the following thoughts:

I witnessed how one ward dealt with a wonderful sister who was beloved by all, despite her tendancy to be late to everything. Sister X was bright, faithful, beautiful, active, and had many admirable character qualities. But she was continually late. Always apologetic, but always late.

In a way, looking back on it, Sister X was indeed "punctually challenged;" and she was treated much you might treat someone with a physical or mental disablitiy. You love them, and try to help them to participate as fully as possible in ward activities. You alter arrangements at times to meet their needs, and you encourage everyone in the ward to show appreciation and compassion to the person in question. However, a ward doesn't do away with basketball because some members are in wheel chairs; or cease to use visual aids in classrooms because some members are blind.

The response of most ward members was to simply take her as she was, but, to try to minimize the negative effects of her lateness on others.

For instance, when I, as a new member of the ward, was slated to do something with Sister X, I was warned (with a smile) that she would probably arrive much later than the appointed time, because, despite all her wonderful qualities, she tended to run late. That prepared me to wait in patience, rather than become increasingly irritated. Those she visit taught, knew she would be late, so they scheduled her visits accordingly. If you invited her and her family to dinner, you planned to eat long after the appointed time. When Sister X was hosting a R.S. activity in her home, she was asked to leave her front door open so that sisters could go in even if she was still at the store purchasing items for the salad (which is what she was doing the time I attended the activity). Sometimes, however, there was really no way to accommodate her lateness—if she was giving a lesson, once every other possible part of the meeting had been taken care of, we simply had to wait for her to show up.

As much as possible, individuals made allowances for her. And, although meetings, activities, dinners--in short, any communal activity--always started without her, as far as I could tell, she received no reproach in word or look when she finally arrived. Everyone liked her, and enjoyed being around her.

I find it rather sad, however, that Sister X missed out on so many things, and experienced so much unnecessary stress. And that so many people were so needlessly accommodating. Because being “punctually challenged” is not a real disability. It’s just a bad habit.

1 comment:

JKS said...

I think it is great that people tried to live their lives despite her "bad habit." Many times we can be too concerned with other people's bad habits, and get ourselves upset or angry wishing they would be different. Instead, your ward simply went ahead in the best way possible.
I think that we can learn from this. Usually, someone's bad habit should only affect them, but how often do we spend time and energy being upset about it? Instead, we should accept the bad habit as something we can't change, and manage the things we can change.
Being perpetually late like that can be very rude to others, and I think I will make sure to teach my children that. They are perhaps already learning. They know I get upset when we are late and they hate that!!! I would rather teach them by example to be on time, rather than how to be upset that you are late.