Waiting time

Beyond Brushstrokes
Maria Victoria Rufino

Posted on March 11, 2016

“I have noticed that people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who wait for them.” -- E.V. Lucas (1868-1938) British writer and poet

Chronic tardiness is a symptom of the grand entrance syndrome (GES). A highly contagious virus. GES afflicts the ego, causing instant inflation. Other side effects are illusions of grandeur, hallucinations, and perspective distortion.

Vulnerable victims are arrivistes who suddenly acquire fame, power, and wealth.

The habitual latecomer is often self-preoccupied. His/he poor sense of timing conceals a deeper problem = attitude: “I’m important. Everybody should wait for me.” The exception would be the person who has multiple responsibilities that 24 hours are not enough in a day. Juggling things to do takes skill and a lot of practice.

In the world of showbiz and fashion, it is de riguer to arrive fashionably late. New comers and celebrity-wannabe’s cultivate an image of flamboyance. Many have attention-grabbing behavior with outrageous antics.

A walk on the red carpet for a premiere or gala event is the celebrity’s chance to show off. Note that this applies to the trying hard (TH) celebrity. The real certified celebrity does not have to do anything but look good. Sheer presence is enough. Paparazzi, reporters, and TV cameras eagerly await the grand entrance and the fashion statement or the faux pas.

The overwhelming attention causes new divas and sudden, shooting stars to become spoiled, temperamental brats. They easily lose their bearings and fly high. They forget the simple rules of good manners such as the importance of punctuality.

In Paris, many decades ago, the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt was getting ready to perform on stage. A timid theatre callboy notified her of the first act curtain with the words: “Madame, it will be eight o’clock when it suits you.” Ms. Bernhardt adopted the phrase thereafter as her cue.

Tardiness is annoying but it is expected in such an artificial environment. Time is not important in the make-believe world. Other people become insignificant, Instant gratification is all that matters. But in the real world -- business, public service, GES is not acceptable behavior. Being late for important functions is a no-no. The grandiose attitude and supercilious manner of the self-important individual are turnoffs. It also reveals unprofessional behavior.

Catapulted to fame, power, or wealth, the afflicted person suddenly finds himself/herself the center of attention. The artificial glare can distort one’s view and upset the delicate balance mechanism. From relative obscurity to the limelight, the change is abrupt and disorienting. Another side effect of fame or power is the appearance of the entourage of satellites. It grows in proportion to (real or imagined) status. The celebrity gets accustomed to having people-in-waiting.

The time of arrival for meetings, conferences, speaking engagements varies from punctual (on the dot) to slightly late but acceptable (15 minutes) to very late (more than an hour). This local scenario has been adjusted due to the horrendous traffic gridlock. Latecomers are no longer social pariahs.

Occasionally, the VIP becomes an emergency “no-show” to the consternation of associates or organizers. Observers note GES may or may not contaminate the VIP spouse. His/her level of immunity depends on the spouse’s sense of identity, level of confidence, and security.

The insecure, self-centered spouse can be spoiled by the elevation in status. She/he demands attention -- by imposing her/his imperious expectations, unpredictable moods, and caprices on others. She/he makes people wait like she/he were the most important person in the world.

Waiting is a prolonged state of expectation. It seems longer for the one who waits.

One of the basic lessons of courtesy and good manners is punctuality. It shows good breeding and a concern for others.

Making someone wait (without a good reason) is like robbing an individual of a very precious ephemeral commodity -- time.

Once spent, time can never be recovered.

Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.