Is habitual tardiness sinful?

Is being habitually tardy – late for things from anywhere from a few minutes to more – sinful? Why or why not? I think it is for several reasons.
*]If you are late, you have lied. Saying you will be someplace implies you will be there on time. If you choose (and I stress the word choose) not to be there on time (barring true emergency) to be late, you are not a person of your word.
*]It is uncharitable and not considerate of the other person’s time. Which is disrespectful of a person, which is sinful.
[/LIST]One friend said her priest said being late is not sinful. Perhaps not mortal sin, but I’d say it probably usually is a venial sin. Your thoughts?

I have the feeling that either the friend you mention or other friends have kept you waiting and you are upset by that. As someone who is habitually early for appointments, I sympathize. But the fact is that people rarely deliberately choose to keep others waiting.

There is a general unwritten expectation by society that a social appointment is fairly flexible and that people can be anywhere from fifteen minutes early to fifteen minutes late. With such an unwritten expectation, there is no sin for taking advantage of that leeway. Certainly you and I would be on the phone apologizing if we were running late, but others do not have the same scruples we do. And while people who are habitually early tend to become steamed the longer they wait, it is not fair to judge other people by our own habits, especially on whether or not they have made a deliberate choice, are lying, or are experiencing what we would consider an “emergency.”

A better plan is to prepare for inevitable waits. Bring a book, play a game on your phone, drive around the block. When it is especially important to meet someone at a particular time, politely emphasize that. (“I need to meet you at 5 PM sharp. If you’re going to be late, will you please call ahead to let me know?”) And with those people who you know are habitually late, take that into account when setting up appointments. If you and a tardy person need to meet no later than 5:30 PM, set the appointment for 5 PM sharp.

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