Toss It Up Thursday: CP Time: How important is it to be on time?


So, one of the MOST frustrating things for me to deal with, when it comes to other people, is tardiness. I cannot deal. To me, being late means that you have not taken the other person’s time into consideration and since time is money…well, you fill in the blanks.

I had a conversation with some folks the other day about this subject and there was pretty much a common feeling of disdain around the table. This got me thinking. How many people are actually okay with tardiness?

Being a teacher, I am accustomed to addressing tardiness immediately, First time…warning. Second time…detention. Third time, and every time thereafter…in-school suspension. Why the punishment? Well, think about it. If tardiness is allowed in the classroom, three things are going on: 1) the student is missing out on learning, 2) the student is disrespecting the teacher, and 3) if the student is not punished, the behavior continues. If the behavior continues, the student grows up, gets a job, and then goes to work late. Wait…that would be unacceptable right?

Most people would agree that going to work late is unprofessional and if done regularly, should result in termination. If the respect is given at work, shouldn’t the same respect be given to those who love and care about you? Things that make you go hmmmm…(yes, I’m singing the song out loud! Don’t judge!)

So, why does this happen and does it only happen with certain groups of people? You know me. I’m a research kind of girl. Apparently, the only ethnic group that doesn’t have a name for their tardiness is the Caucasian American. And, maybe they do but, I didn’t find any information on it. Now, I’m about to deal in some stereotypes. If you’re easily offended, you can stop reading now (although there’s no reason to be offended…really).

Since my ethnic background is African American and Caucasian American, I am more familiar with “CP Time”, although I wasn’t exposed to “CP Time” until I got to college (I went to an HBCU). I had to even ask what it was. Of course, that ended with a laugh but really. Why does it even exist?


One would think that “CP Time” would be a fairly recent term, right? Well, it’s not. The term actually dates back to the 60s. And, here’s some black history for you. African Americans decided to be late, at that time, to rebel against society.

Ronald Walcott, who wrote an essay entitled, “Ellison, Gordone and Tolson: Some Notes on the Blues, Style and Space,” stated the following explanation about “CP TIme”:

               “Black people always seem to be late and, in fact, have been late so often and so       predictably that they themselves have coined a term for it: CP Time, Colored People’s    Time. CP time is usually spoken of in tones of the profoundest dismay (by Blacks who    lament their brothers’ “irresponsibility that will hold us all back”) or of outraged complacency (by whites who see this habitual lateness as yet further instance of our don’t-give-a-damn-attitude, “but really, what can you expect?”) or of amused tolerance (by the rest of us who are so accustomed to it we hardly notice it.”

“CP Time actually is an example of Black people’s effort to evade, frustrate and ridicule the value-reinforcing strictures of punctuality that so well serve this coldly impersonal technological society.”

So, what a rebel you are! Being late and all! That’s really nice and all but let’s be real. Sometimes, you’re going to be late. It’s inevitable. And some times, it pays to be late. I’ve missed being in a car accident because I was late. I’m sure those who were late to work on September 11, 2001 are quite thankful. But, that’s not to say that being late should be habitual.

Frankly, it’s disrespectful and inconsiderate to be late. You are basically telling the person that you don’t care about their time or task. You have more important things to tend to.

Most of the time, when we are late, it’s only because we didn’t prepare to be where we are supposed to be when we are supposed to be there. Preparation is the key and that has to start with you.

So, to answer my question: How important is it to be on time? My answer: VERY! Some wise man once told me: To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and if you’re late, don’t bother coming. I concur!

Until next time…


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